Ok, so something absurd is happening right now and you really have to be from the EU or on Reddit to have noticed. Earlier this week (March 26, 2019), the European Parliament voted in favor of a highly contested law that made it illegal for you to post memes (or any media you didn't personally create) on places like Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and so on. So, if you ever re-post anything and currently live in the EU, copyright cops could soon be on the way to your house.
‘Wait really!? There is no way I can get in trouble for posting screenshots of Spongebob onto my meme page’
Oh, I wish it weren’t true. But one of the sections of the proposal passed - Article 13 - adjusts the ways in which governance for copyrighted content uploaded to the internet will be regulated. Under the law, platforms will be liable for content users upload - so content hosting sites (most social media sites - Google included) are now responsible for what gets posted onto their platform. So what does this mean for me? - I am but a small meme dealer who is mostly looking to garner fake internet points as a way to build my ever decreasing self-esteem.
It is unclear as of now. On one side, Axel Voss (such a cool name wasted on such a lame person *see memes at end of page for reference ) of the European Parliament said, “The 'meme', the 'gif', the 'snippet' are now protected more than ever before.” That sounds really good for small content creators. Voss is in favor of the article because tech companies are getting too much money for content they are not creating and would like to redistribute that income to the folks who actually make the material. Sounds great! Google, YouTube, and Facebook essentially have created monopolies and so the people who actually fill their sites with amazing content have very little power to monetize the attention they demand. This massive disparity has led to many creators relying on Patreon - subscription-based crowdsourcing of funds - to pay the bills.
So while Voss makes it sound like this will be good for the little guy, the actual repercussions on popular meme platforms are not promising. Yesterday (March 27, 2019) a moderator of a hugely popular meme page on Reddit, r/dankmemes, pinned a post explaining why “ALL EU BASED USERS WILL BE BANNED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE”.
To summarize the post:
Previously the UK banned all hardcore bondage porn and some Redditors were interviewed by the police. People who knew about the law, and honestly thought they were within it, still got knocks on the door. So now with the introduction of Article 13, users are again nervous. One of the chief points of Article 13 is that the person posting content and the website hosting it are liable for damages. After trying to contact “legit legal type people who don’t mind being paid in bits of string”, they were unable to find any straight answer on if someone who posts on r/dankmemes would be personally liable for re-posting copyriged material. Rather than waiting to see what happens, they decided to take the safe route and ban all posts coming from the EU and all users based in the EU.
Damn, so a law meant to protect creators has already resulted in the censorship of many creators. For all of the millions of creators based in the EU, it is advised that you refrain from using any copyrighted material until further notice. In an era where most content made includes references to other popular content - this could have massive repercussions.
Will this be like the pirating of illegal music - something illegal that mostly gets ignored if you have a VPN - or will it bring about harsher consequences? Only time will tell. What do y’all think about this? Do you trust the European Parliament who claims to be redistributing power back to the creators? Or do you think it’s another way to censor the free speech of citizens?
The response of the meme community is clear - the passing of article 13 is a heinous act. In the few days in-between the passing of Article 13 and the banning of EU users, many a meme were made bashing the law. Below are some of my favorites, all of which would now be illegal in the EU under Article 13.