Revamped EU copyright law could mean the death of memes

Revamped EU copyright law could mean the death of memes

By Saqib Shah, The Sun June 8, 2018 | 2:14pm

Memes could be about to vanish from the web if the EU enforces its revamped copyright laws, say experts.

The proposed regulation will force websites to filter out text, audio, photos and video shared by users against an ever-expanding database of copyrighted works.

Beyond memes, the law could — for example — impact still or moving images that contain copyrighted music or posters in the background.

The regulation is the EU’s stab at restructuring copyright law for the internet age in an effort to protect digital rights holders like record labels, photo agencies and film studios.

But privacy advocates warn the rules — which will be debated this month — violate the fundamental rights of internet users and could be used to excessively censor the web.

They also inevitably place memes and remixes in the firing line.

For those unfamiliar with the online phenomenon, memes consist of photos, illustrations or film stills edited by users to put a funny, new spin on their origins.

And now they’re at threat from Article 13 (as it’s known), along with other forms of user-generated content, claim experts.

A campaign against the law says the proposals could “destroy the internet as we know it.”

“Should Article 13 of the Copyright Directive be adopted, it will impose widespread censorship of all the content you share online,” it said.

The onus will be on the platforms that let users upload material (think social media, Wikipedia and video platforms like YouTube) to “prevent the availability” of protected works.

The EU suggests that these sites will need to adopt technology that can recognize and block work that belongs to someone other than the person sharing it.

YouTube, for example, already has a Content ID system designed to flag copyrighted works, but entertainment companies claim the tech isn’t doing enough to protect their content.

The Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition has previously warned that: “Some requirements contained in Article 13 can enable abusive behavior, thereby threatening freedom of expression and information.”

Meanwhile, non-profit The Electronic Frontier Foundation and 56 other rights organizations sent an open letter to European lawmakers in October highlighting their issues with Article 13.

“Article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business,” it read.


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