New European Union copyright laws could ban memes on the internet, experts and campaigners warn.
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. 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 will 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.
The law would “destroy the internet as we know it” warn the campaigners, who add it would “allow big companies to control what we see and do online”.
Campaigners VS European Commission
Essentially, the campaigners are arguing the stringent copyright protections of Article 13 would damage the sharing of parody content and memes which, while themselves being original and creative works, are often developed from other people’s original content.
In response to the campaign, a European Commission spokesperson told Sky News: “The idea behind our copyright proposals is that people should be able to make a living from their creative ideas… The proposals to modernise EU copyright provisions will not harm freedom of expression on the internet… They take into account technological developments that have already been introduced by some of the major players and which help in two ways.”
“Firstly, they help to inform authors when their works are used online and to prevent that these works are used by major online platforms without their author’s consent. Secondly, such technological developments help to ensure the author’s fair remuneration for their work.”