Article 13: #SaveYourInternet from EU's New Copyright Law

All over the world, internet lovers have joined hands to fight against one of the most controversial directives: The EU Copyright Directive.

All over the world, internet lovers have joined hands to fight against one of the most controversial directives: the EU Copyright Directive. On the 20th of June, 2018, the European Parliament of Legal Affairs introduced the 24 articles, two of which caught our attention - Articles 11 and 13 - The Link Tax and The Upload Filter, otherwise known as "The Meme Ban". 

Article 11 states that publishers "may obtain fair and proportionate remuneration for the digital use of their press publications by information society service providers", meaning that it allows creators to place a "tax" on their products, giving them the right to ask for payment in return for the right to publish even parts of their creation online, whether it be artwork, writing, or other forms of media. This, in turn, explains the name "Link Tax", as the tax is placed only when both the creator and the publisher are associated. 

Article 13 states that "online content sharing service providers and right holders shall cooperate in good faith to ensure that unauthorized protected works or another subject- matter are not available on their services." Broken down, that means that websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube, all of which are platforms that thrive due to UGC (User-Generated-Content) will be responsible for taking care of copyright infringement, taking down any mediums that even slightly do so. 

In the past, these responsibilities didn't exist and were only provided if the valid owner of the piece claimed copyright. However, this will no longer be the case if the articles pass. Not only does the cyber world disagree with this law, but so do the aforementioned big corporations. Even YouTube's CEO Susan Wojcicki announced her opinion: "Article 13 could put the creative economy of creators and artists around the world at risk". 

So why is Article 13 known as "The Meme Ban"? First of all, if you don't know already, "memes", to quote the dictionary, are "an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations". The main concern here is that these images or videos, including the new article, would be held under a copyright claim. This would mean that only the original photographer, director, or writer would have the right to use their image, video, or text. 

Some may say that memes will not be affected by the law due to their parodic nature; however, when thinking about the methods that corporations will use to filter what is and isn't under copy strike, which will most likely be some form of automatic system, which would have a higher chance of filtering memes under copyright law rather than not. 

Seems Relatively Fair. What's The Big Deal? 

In Europe, there is something known as "Permitted Use," which allows only mediums that classify under "parody", "quotation", and "classroom use" to be withheld from copy strikes.

Article 13 is what threatens to make a bad thing worse. In the rest of the world, there is something known as "Safe Harbour", which is the idea that it isn't the platform's (i.e., Youtube, Facebook) job to initiate the copyright strike, but it is only their job to pass on the claim from the owner. This is the idea that Article 13 is targeting. 

The big deal isn't in what the article does but how the piece is phrased. In the original amendment, the report stated that there would be "automatic detection of recognized content upon upload", which is similar to the existing processes on UGC sites. However, that phrase didn't cut into the newest edition. "The people behind Article 13, which is mostly the music industry, want to keep the language vague because they can demand basically anything they want" (Mathew Patrick, Film Theory, YouTube). In the end, the real goal of Article 13 is to find anything borderline infringing the copyright laws and stop it from happening BEFORE it is even published. 

How Does Article 13 Affect Me? 

Now that the law has passed, it very well means the end of user-generated content. Videos that we make and place onto YouTube, remixes, and covers of songs from abroad, and even Facebook posts that have images of a movie poster will all be under the copy strike of Article 13, making it so that we wouldn't be able to create what we are creating right now. 

It also means the end of some very famous content creators from Europe. With the introduction of this law, Europe would become a digital force field. Nothing from outside can come inside, and everything inside STAYS inside. Famous European creators such as Zoella, KSI, Dan & Phil, and the most prominent YouTuber of all, Pewdiepie, would all only be able to reach audience members within Europe. 

And then, imagine the tragic loss that would be struck within the hearts of many faithful followers of these YouTubers, and then multiply that by the many UGC-providing platforms in our world. The amount of sadness and despair would be on an otherworldly scale. Like taking candy from a baby, the new law would take away one fundamental way of self-expression.

With this newfound knowledge, I hope I have convinced all of you to at least spread the word on this horrific article that may be passed in 2019, which would eradicate not only online memes and YouTube accounts but entire lives and ways to express ourselves at the worst. 

Isolating Europe is a Bad Idea

"As a person that uses the internet daily, I believe that the introduction of articles 13 and 11 would hugely affect the way of which I go through my day, and I disagree with the EU introducing these two articles to ensure that the internet would be free for all to use. 

First of all, if Article 13 were to be introduced, it would separate the entirety of Europe's content from ours. How would I, a fellow 9-year-old, be able to watch PewDiePie on LWIAY? How could I look at memes while in transit to school? How we surf the internet would not be the same; virtually everything ever posted would become copyrighted by big companies for profit, and there would be no way to help stop this. 

Even if we use VPNs to access the European side of the internet, it does not dismiss the fact that the two articles would be avoided, as both rules are more than just blocking off a part of the internet, it restricts content and copyrights it. Though a VPN could let us access more of the internet, it provides more problems for us, making us susceptible to the jurisdiction of articles 11 and 13. 

The message should be said that articles 11 and 13 are terrible ideas for the internet; not only will they separate Europe from the rest of the world, but they will also wipe the concept of memes off the face of the earth and evoke the idea of censorship. Gamers must rise and fight this crisis we are facing in this day and age". 

What's Next?

Article 13 was passed. And yet, our memes are not gone, are they? 

The conditions produced by the now-infamous article of the European Union's Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market were supposed to help in "implementing effective and proportionate measures to prevent the availability of specific unlicensed works identified by rightsholders from acting expeditiously in removing them". In layman's terms, to prevent non-copyright-holders from infringing on copyright and producing "new" user material based on pre-existing products or internet materials. Sounds fair enough, right? 

But yet, if we call back to the time before the article was passed and the environment on the internet around that time, what was all about how Article 13 was bound to cause some internet apocalypse to spell the end of freedom on the net? Several sources, including this original editorial, said that the age of user-generated content ended, that Facebook posts with movie posters would be taken down, and that content creation on Youtube from Europe would be crippled. 

Now, though, when we look at the facts of what happened after the article was passed, Article 13 didn't come anywhere near to having the effects that concerned internet citizens predicted or called out. It's hardly like those outside of Europe haven't been able to produce memes due to copyright concerns, one backlash that specific individuals claimed would hit the entire global online community. And even within Europe, memes are still viable, not having been restricted to anywhere near the extent that was claimed—Pewdiepie and other European meme channels still produce their content regularly, and those outside the EU can still consume meme-filled content from within. 

At this point, it's clear that, despite all the noise made about Article 13, its actual effects were nowhere near the doom and gloom whinged about by memesters worldwide. And I think that, just maybe, instead of blowing the "loss" of our ability to produce memes out of proportion, we should be fighting for the issues that will truly define the current generation: how well we treat refugees, whether or not we will genuinely recover the global economy from long-term effects of the recession of 08, and, of course, most of all, our ability to come together and confront the existential threat posed by the current climate crisis. But that's just some food for thought.