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Memes Could Be Banned Under New EU Copyright Law

Memes Could Be Banned Under New EU Copyright Law

Experts warn that our beloved memes could be no more if the European Union enforces revamped copyright laws

Rebecca Shepherd

Rebecca Shepherd

In some circumstances, the only thing capable of brightening up an otherwise miserable day is a good ol' meme. Although they're still a relatively recent invention, it's difficult to imagine a world without them - in fact, we never thought we'd have to think about it, at all.

Until now, that is.

Because experts have warned that memes could soon vanish from the Internet if new copyright laws come into place.

According to the Sun, if the European Union puts its revamped copyright legislation - Article 13 - into practice, it could mean that websites are forced to filter out text, audio, photos and video shared by users against an ever-expanding database.


And taking memes out of the equation, the law could also impact still or moving images that contain copyrighted music or posters in the background.

Discussion platforms could be under threat, creatives and independent businesses might lose control of their work and democratised information could become a thing of the past.

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 also place everything we love in the firing line.

A campaign against the law says the proposals could 'destroy the internet as we know it'.

The Save Your Internet campaign website says: "Should Article 13 of the Copyright Directive be adopted, it will impose widespread censorship of all the content you share online."

The duty to police this will be on the platforms that allow users to upload material - for example, social media or video platforms such as YouTube. What a pain in the backside.

The EU suggests that these sites will need to adopt technology that can recognise and block work that belongs to someone other than the person sharing it.

YouTube already has a Content ID system designed to flag copyrighted work, but entertainment companies claim that not enough is being done to protect their content.


The Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition has previously warned that: "Some requirements contained in Article 13 can enable abusive behaviour, thereby threatening freedom of expression and information".

Non-profit The Electronic Frontier Foundation and 56 other rights organisations sent an open letter to lawmakers back in October highlighting their issues with Article 13.

It said: "Article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens' communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business."

Save Your Internet is calling for people to email, ring or tweet their MEP and provide a draft message to send.

Part of the message reads: "I'm calling on you to work with your colleagues to ensure that Article 13 is deleted, as I do not want my uploads to be monitored and blocked by filtering technologies, nor do I want big businesses to decide what content I can see or not.

"My fundamental freedoms are at stake and I expect you to defend them."

So June is starting to look pretty savage indeed.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: memes, Phones and Gadgets, Internet, Europe, technology news, european union, Technology, Community