What is Article 13?
As you may have already guessed from the title, Article 13 is an article, part of bigger legislative initiative passed by EU parliament as recently as 15th April 2019.
Article 13 is a part of regulations that EU is implying to adjust the copyright rules to the digital age and is named Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. This initiative is aimed at setting up rules and regulating internet within the European Union and is amongst first of its kind in the world to make such an attempt.
What is Article 13 and What does it Mean for Internet?
In simple terms, Article 13 is trying to regulate content sharing platforms and keep them accountable for the content users put online. It is mainly stressing the use of copyrighted material in these platforms by its users. This will eventually push the platforms to implement tougher filters to fight copyright infringements. But there are some potential negative outcomes that make users and even governments around the world cautious about this initiative and especially the Article 13 which internet users wasted no time to name “The Memekiller”.
To highlight just 2 of these potential problems:
- If the platforms implement tougher filters, it will push out all the potential good content that is genuinely created without copyright infringements. This happens because current filters implemented by these platforms don’t perform well and penalise even genuine content creators. And YouTube is notorious for this. Just ask content creators such as SmellyOctopus or Kenzo and ObbyRaidz or Glenn Fricker. These are just few of many more examples where either the filters of YouTube have gone wrong or the copyrights claiming system has gone wrong.
- This problem is one of the most discussed about and refers to memes, remakes and “opinion” or “reaction” videos. These types of content are not clearly defined and there is a thin line and strong discussion about whether they infringe copyright or they are a separate and unique content that has right to be in the internet and, most importantly, is much loved by internet users. If content sharing platforms are to implement these far from perfect filters we probably might see the end of memes, at least for those of us who live in Europe.
The Fight Goes on for the Internet Freedom
The fight is still going on and lots of prominent people and organisations have already picked their sides. It appears that content creators and their unions are for the article 13 but have some reservations for some aspects of its implementation. The supporters of the Directive are Society of Authors, and the UK-based Alliance for Intellectual Property and Proponents.
In June 2018, 84 European music and media organisations, including Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group publicly declared their support for the Directive. In the European Parliament, the lead MEP presenting the directive to Parliament is Axel Voss, a German MEP and member of the European People’s Party.
On the other side of the trenches, there are lobbying group from Silicon Valley the CCIA, whose members include Google, Facebook, eBay, Amazon and Netflix. On June 12 a large group of internet grandees including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Tim Berners-Lee signed an open letter arguing against the Directive. And YouTube is by far the most vocal and active critic of this Directive as it will probably be affected most by it.