26 March 2019
A protester in front of the European Parliament as MEPs debate on modifications to EU copyright reforms in Strasbourg. © Reuters
The European Parliament has voted to adopt the highly controversial Article 13 provision which would govern the production and distribution of content online under the auspices of increasing copyright protections.
Tuesday’s move will update the EU’s 20-year-old copyright rules and will govern audiovisual content, much to the dismay of many social media users who have already begun outpouring their grief online.
However the parliament said in a statement that sharing memes and gifs has been protected “even more than it was before” and they will continue to be available and shareable on online platforms.
MEPs passed the legislation by 348 votes to 274 Tuesday. Opponents had hoped for last-minute amendments to be made but their efforts were in vain.View image on Twitter
Dark day for internet freedom: The @Europarl_EN has rubber-stamped copyright reform including #Article13 and #Article11. MEPs refused to even consider amendments. The results of the final vote: 348 in favor, 274 against #SaveYourInternet12.6K12:53 AM – Mar 27, 201910.8K people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy
European Parliament adopted the text and we did not have a chance to vote on articles 11&13 again. 4 votes difference on allowing for the amendments to be voted. New controversial copyright law underway for Europe Marietje Schaake✔@MarietjeSchaakeReady to roll #copyright vote 13312:54 AM – Mar 27, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy156 people are talking about this
Just in: Memes are now illegalAdam Fleming✔@adamflemingThe European Parliament has passed the EU’s new Copyright Directive.46112:53 AM – Mar 27, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy359 people are talking about this
Julia Reda, a German MEP with the Pirate Party, described it as a “dark day for internet freedom.”
Article 13 or ‘The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market’ makes all platforms legally responsible for the content hosted and shared on their platforms.
The process of updating the bloc’s copyright laws began in the European Commission two years ago, ostensibly to protect Europe’s publishers, broadcasters and artists and guarantee fair compensation from big tech companies.
EU member states now have two years to pass their own laws putting Article 13 into effect.What is Article 13? Controversial EU copyright law faces final vote
The law will require anyone sharing copyrighted content to obtain permission from rights owners, even if the content is just an animated GIF on Twitter. To protect their platforms from legal trouble, sites such as Facebook and Wikipedia will now be forced to implement “upload filters” to ensure that user-generated content doesn’t violate copyright.
Expensive to implement, vulnerable to bugs, and prone to inadvertently censoring lawful content, such filters have been slammed by critics as an existential threat to free expression on the internet.
Tens of thousands marched in protest across Germany ahead of the vote, decrying what they viewed as severe online censorship.
Tech giant Google said that while the directive is “improved” it will still lead to legal uncertainty and will damage Europe’s creative and digital economies.
Critics have argued that the only way for Article 13 to be effectively enforced would be through the use of upload filters which automatically check content to see if it’s copyrighted or not, at least in theory. However, the exact mechanics of such a system have yet to be fully debated and the potential for abuse is immediately clear.
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