VSM & Article 17 (previously 13) update


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VSM Update

Before I get into the elephant in the room of Article 17 I wanted to talk about a quick update with @PeachClamNine Valentime at Shibo Mansion. As a majority of you may know we here at Weight Gaming is trying to invest more into promising projects in our community and as part of this we worked with Peach to give him a dev server hosted by us for his use.

If you look at our upcoming income statement you will see we paid less this month for that server then we did in the past. This is because Peach contacted us and requested the dev server be shutdown temporarily. This is because he is waiting on the next update of the engine he used as it fixes some bugs that have been causing him issues. So if anyone starts to wonder why no more money or less money is going to the VSM server for the next couple of months that is why.

Article 17 (previously 13)

So before I go into anything WE ARE STILL REVIEWING THE DIRECTIVE. This update is more to answer some FAQs we have been getting and some updates on what we have looked at so far.

Does this directive really apply to Weight Gaming?

Yes, with our current understanding of the directive under Article 2 section 6 we are classified as an “online content-sharing service provider”

Does that apply to the forum or is this an issue just because Weight Gaming is planning on setting up a market place?

Funny enough, after reviewing the directive the market place we have planned might be exempt from the directive under Article 2 section 6 so it is actually the forum that would fall under this directive.

But you dont run ads

Yes but we have a patreon and this is just enough that we feel it pushes Weigh Gaming (in its current form) into the definition of an “online content-sharing service provider”.

Aren’t Small Sites Exempt?

No, here is a list from the directive of what is exempt from Article 2 section 6:

  • not-for-profit online encyclopedias
  • not-for-profit educational and scientific repositories
  • open source software-developing and-sharing platforms
  • electronic communication service providers as defined in Directive (EU) 2018/1972
  • online marketplaces
  • business-to-business cloud services and cloud services that allow users to upload content for their own use

What about the startup exceptions?

Weight Gaming will not qualify under the startup exceptions under Article 17 section 6 as Weight Gaming has been available in the EU for more than 3 years. To be exempt under this we would have to have been available in the EU for less than 3 years and have less then 10 million euros annual turn over and less than 5 million unique visitors per month.

As you can see we meet 2 of the 3 requirements but since we don’t meet all 3 we would not qualify.

Why is this so bad?

The main issue with this directive is it makes us liable for any copyrighted content that our users post unless we can show that we are doing everything in our power according to the “high industry standards of professional diligence” to prevent the posting of the said content as according to Article 17 section 4b. In short we can be sued directly if one of our users post something with copyrighted content in it.

Also, what makes this even more dangerous for us, is Weight Gaming currently is a Sole Proprietorship at best and a Partnership at worst. So this directive will open my self and possibly @kilif open to having to bear any legal repercussions putting our livelihoods at risk.

From the user perspective this can severely limit what users will be allowed to post or see as we would have to be very cautious about violating copyright due to it opening us up to legal repercussions.

Weight Gaming is to small to be sued

While this is true for larger companies we are more worried for lawsuits that come from copyright trolls or those who may be looking at just getting Weight Gaming shut down. The problem is while we are to small to attract attention from the large guys we are so small we could be seen as an easy target by copyright trolls that are looking to force us into an easy settlement (most likely) or some person or organization that just wants to bleed us dry in an attempt to shut us down (less likely but plausible).

I live outside of the EU, will this affect me in any way?

Depends on how we choose to attempt to comply with the directive. In general we are going to try to contain the consequences of this directive to our EU users as much as possible as it is not fair for our non EU users to have deal with restrictions put on them for a directive they had no say in. That being said our limited resources could cause some bleed through and will at least effect if content created by non EU users will actually be seen in the EU.

How is Weight Gaming trying to deal with this directive?

We are still evaluating our options but here is an incomplete list on what is being considered so far:

  • Moving up our plans to form a LLC
  • Using the marketplace to shield the forum
  • The evaluation of manually screening content
  • The evaluation of restricting some content/features for EU users only
  • Selective IP Blacklisting
  • Blacklisting all EU IP address - We really dont want to do this if we can

How is it fair to blacklist the entire EU?

To be frank it is not and it not fair that we even have to consider doing that to our user base, but if we cant comply with what the directive asked and we feel it exposes Weight Gaming to too much risk we really have no other choice. Keep in mind though black listing EU IPs is ONLY A LAST RESORT and we will only use that option if we feel any other options we have will not work or will not work effectively enough.

But you can comply with the directive

Whether or not we can comply with the directive depends on if it is feasible for us to do so. Article 17 section 4a requires us to buy a license for all possible copyrighted content that our users could post so that is instantly not feasible. 4b requires us to prevent the posting of copyrighted material which is generally accepted to be some form of manual or automatic content filtering which will require more manpower and resources on our side to comply which may also not be feasible.

What about adding don’t post copy righted content to your ToS/Rules

Already in there, and most sites already have that in place in their rules/tos but it will not work with Article 17. Article 17 requires sites to prevent the posting of copyrighted content in a more proactive manner so just modifying ToS or site rules will not work.

https://forum.weightgaming.com/faq#stealing
https://forum.weightgaming.com/tos#6

If worse comes to worse what will the black list effect?

At best only the forum at worst everything but the discord.

Is there any possibility Article 17 might be removed/overturned?

There is a possibility that some EU nations may refuse to implement Article 17 or implement a very reduced version of it but this is not guaranteed. Also, article 30 section 1 states that article 17 will not come back under review no sooner than 5 years though significant push back from the EU populace may change that.

There is a legal option that is currently being explored a bit by I believe the EFF where they think they may be able to get the courts to strike it down as it works in contradiction to an existing EU directive but none of the above can be guaranteed so we must treat the directive as it will not be overturned until it happens.

How long does Weight Gaming have to attempt to comply with the directive?

This is a tricky question as there is actually no defined transition time frame. The directive states that the member nations have up to 24 months to implement this directive into law so for all we know the first implementation of this directive could pop up within a month or 24 months from now so we really dont know how much time we have. I think it is safe to assume though we have at least 6 months but that is just a guess.

I think I found a loophole you can use

If you think you found a loop hole or something in the directive that may be of interest to us please feel free to send me a DM through the forum with the article and section you found it in so we can evaluate it. Please don’t suggest anything in Article 17 as we have already evaluated those and they will not work or applies to right holders.

I would like to learn more/read the directive itself

Here is a link to the most recent version of the directive I can find from the EU if anyone wants to look at it:
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CONSIL:ST_7717_2019_INIT&qid=1553917808068&from=EN

For most of those who don’t want to read the full directive here are a few videos that actually do a good job explaining some of the issues. Keep in mind that these are from YouTube and they are not guaranteed to be impartial but to our understanding they are about right on point with the information on Article 17.



Also, while many of these videos deal with YouTube many of the same issues can affect us as well.


March 2019 Income Statement