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By CCN.com: Article 13 was passed in the European Parliament on Tuesday as the World Wide Web fell further into the hands of EU bureaucrats. After multiple revisions, the directive was eventually passed by 348 MEP’s, with 274 against.
Content hosts have always had to police their own platforms for copyright infringements – but now they are being made legally liable for what an individual uploads to their sites.
The clause in Article 13 which has caused all the commotion is as follows:
“Article 13 holds larger technology companies responsible for material posted without a copyright licence. Tech companies already remove music and videos which are copyrighted, but under the new laws they will be more liable for any copyrighted content.”
While the legislation later pays lip service to the idea of protecting fair criticism and satire, the truth is that the people hit hardest by this law will be the meme makers.
The EU is leveraging pressure on (predominantly left-wing) internet platforms in order to tighten the squeeze on political commentators, satirical critics, meme-makers – in other words, the independent wing of the New Media.
If we go by YouTube’s current demographics, most of those being targeted, directly or indirectly, are young, millennial and male. The kind of young men who wouldn’t know much about writing a letter to their local political representative, and who don’t feel very represented by politics at all.
But what they do have are a very particular set of skills – skills which make them a nightmare for people like Hillary Clinton and the left-wing media cabal. Skills which may have helped win an election for one Donald J. Trump. Skills which allow their voices to be amplified louder than any single vote in a political election could possibly muster.
After meeting with representatives of YouTube and other platforms last year, the EU decided to amend Article 13 to make memes allowed for the purposes of ‘quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody and pastiche’.
How this is going to be implemented is anyone’s guess. The algorithms which scan YouTube for instances of copyrighted works are good at identifying replicated content. But how is an algorithm supposed to identify sarcasm, satire, parody or pastiche? How is the algorithm going to understand what amounts to fair criticism or quotation? Furthermore, what is the political bent of the person writing the algorithm?
As for implementing this directive at the national level, the EU has left no instruction for how to enact Article 13. Instead, every nation in the EU must devise their own ways of enforcing it, which could leave us with a different interpretation for countries in Europe.
Member of the European Parliament for London, Mary Honeyball quelled fears for meme-makers, telling the BBC:
“There’s no problem with memes at all. This directive was never intended to stop memes and mashups. I think that’s doom-mongering. People who carry out their business properly have nothing to worry about at all.”
Let’s wait and see.