26 March 2019

Article 13 meme

The latest meme doing the rounds on social media about Article 13.

Memes and gifs have become an enormous part of communicating online. You can’t scroll through any of the big social networks without seeing one or the other within a few clicks. Equally, straight after any popular culture event, you’re guaranteed to see a meme in some shape or form popping up online in the moments after.

Beyonce’s SuperBowl, any of Trump’s speeches, and even regular folk who post a picture that catches the eye of the internet population are prime examples.

They’re an almost integral part of being an internet citizen these days. Which is why so many people are open-mouthed to hear that the European politicians have backed the controversial Copyright Directive. The group of legislation, specifically Article 11 and Article 13, have the potential to change the way we use the internet as we know it.

More than five million people signed a petition opposing the legislation, and many protested against the directive. Yet MEPs passed the legislation by 348 votes to 274. EU member states now have two years to implement their own laws to put the directive into effect.

Of course, it makes sense to distribute the wealth generated by content more fairly to content creators, rather than the big international platforms reaping the lion’s share of any reward. However, commenters are remarking on how vague this legislation is and how it could easily infringe upon freedom of speech.

Filtering our world

From a business point of view, the impact on the creative and digital industries could be enormous.

In a statement, YouTube said the final version of the directive was “an improvement” but that it remained “concerned” that Article 13 could have “unintended consequences that may harm Europe’s creative and digital economy”.

Does this mean we’ll be seeing more upload filters, like those in use on YouTube, that scan user-uploaded content? If so, I am not sure that the technology is ready for that yet. It would be a huge undertaking and immensely difficult when you consider the sheer amount of content uploaded every day. These filters could easily remove content that doesn’t infringe upon any of the rules, therefore bringing the debate around freedom of speech into the equation.

I absolutely support a fair market for creators to reap the rewards of their own content; time will tell if this is the right route toward that.

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