[Osmf-talk] Taking a stand against EU directive "Copyright in the Digital Single Market" (upload filters etc.)

Michael Reichert osm-ml at michreichert.de
Thu Sep 6 20:47:12 UTC 2018


on 12 September, the plenary of the European Parliament will vote on the
new EU directive "Copyright in the Digital Single Market". The directive
will introduce upload filters requiring internet platforms to scan
contributions of their users for potential copyright violations
automatically. The original proposal has passed the Committee on Legal
Affairs on 20 June and failed in the plenary vote a few days later. If
the plenary accepts the slightly modified proposal on 12 September, the
trialogue negotiations between the European Parliament, the European
Commission and the Council of the European Union will start. See also
https://saveyourinternet.eu/ for more information in your language.

The press reported that there is some kind of exception for Wikipedia,
open source software development platforms and online marketplaces.
However, OpenStreetMap data is not only used by the non-profit
OpenStreetMap Foundation but also by various other data consumers, most
of them for-profit businesses.

FOSSGIS e.V., the OSMF local chapter in Germany, takes a stand
against it by responding to every tenth tile requests to
tile.openstreetmap.de with a special black error tile.


See it in action on any page using our tile server, e.g.

The tiles are distributed randomly over the map.

*Why does this affect the OSMF?*
The UK will leave the European Union but it is likely that many EU rules
will nonetheless apply in the UK as well, depending on how the
negotiations continue.

*What should the OSMF do?*
I myself think that the OSMF should show at least a banner on
openstreetmap.org instead of the usual conference banners – ideally
ignoring cookie settings and showing it to every visitor for about three

*What more could the OSMF do?*
The OSMF could go even further and answer one of ten requests to its
European (or all) tile caches with a black or grey error tile showing a
short URL of a page containing more information about the bad side of
upload filters.

*What could other local chapters and operators of free to use tile
servers in Europe do?*
They could join the initiative of FOSSGIS and also show error tiles.

Our error tile can be found at:

Our special page about the black tiles is
https://www.openstreetmap.de/uf/ (only in German but an automatic
translation will help to understand the structure)

*The downside*
I don't want to keep the downside secret as it has already been
discussed on the German OSM forum. Showing black tiles on third-party
websites can be perceived by their operators as an intervention into
their website. They will not like it when the always neutral, reliable
and free of charge tile provider inserts political statements into their
site. However, they should keep in mind that they use a free service and
that we have to defend our project and our idea of a free and open
collaborative map to be able to provide this service in future. Given
that there are multiple tile providers and the tile server of FOSSGIS
e.V. uses an open source map style, the board of FOSSGIS e.V. decided to
show the black tiles even if it could drive away some users.

On the other hand, any banner can be hidden by adblockers, a problem we
already face with our promotional banners for conferences and donation
drives on openstreetmap.org. If a tile server responds with an
"advertisement", the ad blocker has no chance to replace it with a real
map. It can only hide it and leave a grey/rose gap.

*The technical part*
The German tile server uses Apache and mod_tile without an additional
cache server like Squid or Varnish to deliver its tiles. It is possible
to answer randomly every n-th request with this black tile. This means,
reloading the a page might result in different tiles being replaced by
the error tile.

If you use mod_tile, add following to your VirtualHost configuration
before any mod_tile related statements:

    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteMap filtered "rnd:/etc/apache2/filtered.txt"
    RewriteCond "${filtered:0}" "1"
    RewriteRule "^/(.*)(\d).png" "/saveyourinternet.png" [PT]

/etc/apache2/filtered.txt has following content:

0 0|0|0|0|0|0|0|1

The space as second character is correct. The number of zeros determines
the probability to receive a normal tile.

saveyourinternet.png has to be located in the DocumentRoot of the
virtual host.

Best regards

Michael (Nakaner)
FOSSGIS e.V. – OpenStreetMap Deutschland

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