The Brief: On Monday, the European Parliament voted to pass the EU Copyright Directive which will regulate how copyrighted content is shared online, potentially impacting the spread of memes.
The EU parliament officially passed the Copyright Directive. This has been met with outcry online and from major tech companies. Among other things, the directive is intended to protect intellectual property and to ensure that artists, creators, and journalists are properly compensated for their work. However, critics see articles 11 and 13 of the directive as threats to freedom of speech online.
Article 11, which is known as the “Link Tax” sets rules about the sharing of news articles online. It would require websites and social media platforms to compensate news sources when they share a snippet of an article.
The most controversial element is Article 13, which many tech companies including YouTube have argued is unnecessary and will be harmful to creators. Article 13 states that it will be the responsibility of a platform’s gatekeepers to ensure that “unauthorised protected works or other subject matter are not available on their services.” There is debate as to whether this will require “upload filters” to automatically prevent copyrighted content from being shared without permission.
Is Article 13 A Meme Ban?
The exact implications of Article 13 for the creation and spread of image macro memes depend on how the law will be implemented and enforced. While Article 13 protects parodies and images used for commentary, critics including tech companies have pointed out that it would be difficult if not impossible to distinguish what is a parody versus a copyright violation.
Reactions & Memes
Previously, news on Article 13 has inspired people to post memes about it. In the wake of this news, there has been another upsurge of memes and tweets that both protest the ban and suggest that it could be the end of memes as Europeans know them. Others have been finding creative ways to change-up familiar memes so that they can’t violate Article 13 when its implemented.
everyone: please don’t make #article13 a thing it will destroy the internet and leave millions jobless
— 📕Luciel📕@ BSD April 12th (@Wanderingc0rpse) March 26, 2019
article 13 has passed and memes are doomed pic.twitter.com/iUT0hsYD4u
— hyojin (@squizxy) March 26, 2019
A copyright-free version of the distracted boyfriend meme:
Ok picture ye this, there's a man walking & he's turned around to look at a woman with an "awww yeah I like that" face. He's got "EU" written on him. On the woman is written "Article 13". Another woman glaring at man like "what the hell" & on her is written "the entire internet".
— James Felton (@JimMFelton) March 26, 2019