Outside of Brexit, the European Union has continued to be at the forefront of global headlines in recent weeks as a result of a new, sweeping copyright law known as Article 13. This law was drafted to help hold certain technology firms responsible for the sharing of copyrighted works using their services. This could mean, ultimately, that services such as YouTube – where a number of copyrighted works have slipped through the net over the years – could be faced with a legal bulwark.
Article 13 has this week been backed by the EU. That means all tech companies governed by EU member law will need to abide by the new rules should it be finalised. The next stage in proceedings will be for all member states within the Union to back the decision – and if they agree, it will then be published wi the next two years.
This law has been controversial for some time, even during its drafting, which also led to public protests.
Here's What You Need To Know About The EU's Article 13 [video: HuffPost UK]
This is largely as a result of claims which spread early on as to whether or not memes, which are internet jokes that often use copyrighted stills and characters, would be outlawed under the new legislation.
However, fans of meme-sharing shouldn’t need to worry. This is because the law has, according to BBC News, already been modified to allow for exemptions covering ‘quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody and pastiche’. This means, too, that some online movie and video game reviewers may be safe under the ruling. However, with considerable time to go until the legislation is potentially brought into law, it will remain to be seen just who is and isn’t affected.
The European Parliament has, reportedly, outright stated that memes would not be affected by the sweeping law. “There’s no problem with memes at all,” London MEP Mary Honeyball states. “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.”
Regardless of clarification, the law is still controversial with many. Open Knowledge International, a campaign group, has advised that the new laws could restrict online freedom more so that ever before.
“We now risk the creation of a more closed society at the very time we should be using digital advances to build a more open world where knowledge creates power for the many, not the few,” OKI’s CEO Catherine Stihler advised.
Twitch CEO: Article 13 Is 'Poorly Drafted' and 'Wrong Compromise' On Copyright Reform [video: Fortune]