Tomorrow, on June 20th, the EU will set in motion a process that could force online platforms like Facebook, Reddit and even 4chan to censor their users’ content before it gets online.
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The proposed new European copyright law wants websites to use “content recognition technologies” that will scan for copyrighted videos, music, photos, text and code in a move that that will impact internet users’ ability to do the following:
- Create and/or share memes
- Create remixes
And basically any other form of transformative work under the guise of copyright protection.
In an open letter to the President of the European Parliament, some of the world’s most prominent technologists warn against the proposed EU Copyright Directive:
Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.
It’s a direct threat to the established legal notion that individual users, rather than platforms, are responsible for the content they put online.
Could it also be an attempt to control the political narrative and censor the flow of ideas?
Security specialist Bruce Schneirer says:
Article 13 effectively deputizes social media and other Internet companies as copyright police, forcing them to implement a highly invasive surveillance infrastructure across their entire service offerings.
Aside from the harm from the provisions of Article 13, this infrastructure can be easily repurposed by government and corporations – and further entrenches ubiquitous surveillance into the fabric of the Internet.
Wired wrote the following on the law’s effect on memes in particular:
Although it’s primarily intended to prevent the online streaming of pirated music and video, the scope of Article 13 covers all and any copyrightable material, including images, audio, video, compiled software, code and the written word.
Internet memes— which most commonly take the form of viral images, endlessly copied, repeated and riffed on— could fall into a number of those categories, creating an improbable scenario in which one of the internet’s most distinctive and commonplace forms of communication is banned.
The first Legislative Committee votes on the final form of the proposal this Wednesday, June 20th. Their vote will be referred to the parliamentary plenary session, to be – almost definitely – voted into European law on the week of July 4 or, failing that, after the European parliament returns from its summer recess in late September.
Well that sucks, doesn’t it? The most annoying thing is that with this vote taking place when the World Cup is at fever pitch, the media is ignoring the whole thing and most people don’t have a clue that they’re about to lose their rights. If you’re in Europe and concerned about this, you might want to call or e-mail your MEP and let them know you’re not happy about it.
Do you really want to live in a world where these Danny Dyer memes don’t exist? We sure don’t.