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Reddit warns US Copyright Office internet upload filters would harm memes

And hurt free expression.
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Reddit has warned the US Copyright Office against internet upload filters, arguing the technology will harm free expression.

The US has been looking to update the DMCA to keep up with the copyright issues found online. Many proposals have come and gone, but the US Copyright Office is now looking into automated tools that can prevent content from being re-uploaded, aka upload filters.

In a submission to the US Copyright Office, Reddit, a platform known for user-submitted content, warned against Standard Technical Measures (STMs), including upload filters.

We obtained a copy of the submission for you here.

“Filtering technologies and STMs ill-suited to the variety of content on Reddit would limit the vitality of some of our platform’s most active communities,” Reddit said.

In its subreddits users post copyrighted content, taking advantage of the fair use principles to create memes and more. An upload filter would substantially harm the free flow of thought.

“Filtering technologies have difficulty merely identifying copyrighted material, let alone assessing the specific context the content was found. They cannot make nuanced judgments about fair use or transformative works,” the platform said.

The automated filters and the false positives they would bring will significantly harm free speech, Reddit argues.

“As a result, standardized measures are likely to remove non-infringing content and suffer from false positives. Worse, these over-removals would strike at the heart of the transformative user-generated content that makes Reddit communities unique,” Reddit explained.

“That is a severe, unnecessary, and unacceptable cost to the free expression of our users and the communities they build.”

has implemented such a measure through ’s Content ID system, which is notorious. According to Reddit, Content ID cannot work for every type of platform or site.

“Despite being crafted internally for YouTube’s specific purposes, complaints abound about the unfairness of the program from user advocacy groups regarding the rate of false positives. Content ID has even been weaponized by bad actors to remove videos that provide newsworthy, non-infringing content of vital civic importance,” Reddit notes.

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