The BBC has weighed in on the debate over Article 13, a controversial last-minute addition to the EU's new Copyright Directive that will be voted on in 12 days; under Article 13, European sites will have to spy on every word, sound, picture, and video their users post and use a black-box copyright algorithm to decide whether or not to censor it.
These bots — a kind of universal version of YouTube's Content ID, but for everything under the sun — may be able to recognise precise matches of top 40 songs, but they can't understand parody, criticism, reporting or fair dealing. And since there are no penalties for laying claim to things that you didn't create, these bots can be easily tricked into censoring just about anything.
Europeans have until Jun 20 to contact their MEPs and tell them not to vote for this.
Jim Killock, executive director of the UK's Open Rights Group, told the BBC: "Article 13 will create a 'Robo-copyright' regime, where machines zap anything they identify as breaking copyright rules, despite legal bans on laws that require 'general monitoring' of users to protect their privacy.
"Unfortunately, while machines can spot duplicate uploads of Beyonce songs, they can't spot parodies, understand memes that use copyright images, or make any kind of cultural judgement about what creative people are doing. We see this all too often on YouTube already.
"Add to that, the EU wants to apply the Robocop approach to extremism, hate speech, and anything else they think can get away with, once they put it in place for copyright. This would be disastrous."