Monday, 10 December, 2018

European Union passes controversial copyright law that could mean the end of memes

YouTube logo MEPs will vote on whether to introduce measures to drastically curb tech giants' power over content online. Credit REUTERS
Cecil Davis | 14 September, 2018, 16:09

"We welcome today's vote at the European Parliament".

In the event, it was the supporters who held the day.

The European Parliament voted by 438 to 226 to pass the law, which aims to compensate artists and creators. In this case, in the short term there will be only one victor: large [tech] platforms. It will be a lose, lose situation. This includes two controversial articles that threaten to hand more power to the richest tech companies and generally break the internet. Most contentious were article 13, which would force platforms such as Reddit and Facebook to identify and censor uploaded content that breaches copyright, and article 11 or the so-called "link tax", which would require companies like Google to hold licences for linking to publishers. The problem is that this law would change a fundamental principle of the internet, which is that when you upload something onto a platform, when you upload content, the platform if it doesn't know that the content is infringing any laws it is not responsible for that content.

Artists, too, find themselves on both sides of the issue.

But the Computer and Communications Industry Association said it would "undermine free expression online and access to information". High-profile internet personalities like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales have already voiced their discontent.

Updated proposals were subsequently tabled and have now been approved by MEPs, meaning the Parliament is now ready to open talks on finalising the reforms with the Council of Ministers, the EU's other law making body.

David Wright Will Play His Last Game on Mets Final Homestand
Wright said that he addressed his teammates before coming out for the press conference and joked that he hoped he was done crying. During a press conference on Thursday, Wright announced that it will likely be the last series of his career.

After the vote, European Commission Vice-President for the digital single market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for digital economy and society Mariya Gabriel also welcomed the outcome. It is bad news, not just for United Kingdom digital businesses, but also for the general public who now risk seeing their freedoms online being restricted. Copyright trolls will likely be able to fraudulently claim ownership of intellectual property with little recourse for their victims.

Critics say that would require all internet platforms to filter content put online by users, which many believe would be an excessive restriction on free speech.

There's still one more Parliament vote in January.

If the law is passed, European Union countries would be given up to two years to apply the new rules, which would in turn be enforced by its member countries, The Wall Street Journal reported.

To be clear, the United Kingdom leaving the European Union will not protect United Kingdom businesses from these new requirements. United Kingdom businesses will be watching carefully to see whether the Directive is passed before Brexit.