"I understand everyone's burned out over #netneutrality, SOPA, and other battles, but this has a more dire impact on how we use the web than anything else--and unlike laws in the US, it can't be challenged or reversed easily."— Ian Miles Cheong
The EU Copyright Directive Article 17 is a controversial anti-online piracy law that has been proposed and approved by the European Parliament in March 2019 that requires anyone with ability to publish content to maintain a database of copyrighted works that were claimed by right's holders.
Much like the infamous SOPA, it's in essential a mass censorship law that can potentially put memes, remixes and user generated content to an end in Europe, as it requires online platforms such as Google, Facebook, YouTube (post-2013) and Twitter to automatically censor copyrighted content uploaded by anyone who isn’t licensed to share it.
It was planned to be voted in on July 5th, only to be voted against successfully. It was pushed back to September and back to the concept board, where it was then passed. In March 2019, it was passed for the last time by the EU.
Why It's Rotten
- Much like SOPA, some of Article 17 (previously 13)'s requirements are rather vague, such as the usage of "appropriate measures" and "effective content recognition technologies" which it never clearly defined. Vague and poorly-defined laws means that it can easily be misinterpreted (intentionally or not) and abused.
- Speaking of "content recognition technologies", anyone who's familiar with YouTube's notorious copyright strike system knows that these algorithms never work properly. Meaning that many people on major online platforms can be framed for nothing.
- Human monitors, while far more reliable, may prove to be too costly for companies to deploy, so its more likely that they will relay on the shoddier but cheaper method.
- The strict copyright management makes it far easier for trolls and online hate mobs to silence people.
- While it's passed its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law, internet users from other nations can also be negatively effected, depending on if the website wants to keep running in the EU.
- What's worse is that the musicians praise this act, because they believe it's helping against piracy and copyright infringement because of AI algorithms.
- Once the law is to be executed strictly, many major online platforms or media outlets may as well pull out from Europe because platforms that can’t handle monitoring may loose millions in penalties and simply go bankrupt, restricting online resources for people of the EU even further.
- Not only the robust meme culture, but also pop culture-based media such as Let's Plays, trailer reactions, live streaming, reviews, critiques or fan art sharing can be severely impacted.
- Other laws that are just as terrible would also be started as well:
- Article 3 would create a copyright exception when used for Text and Data Mining research methods for research institution and only for the purpose of scientific research. This pretty much prevents independent researchers, journalists and companies to use the technique for products and services.
- Article 15 would require extra copyrights for news or media outlets, requiring anyone who would like to link to a news site must first get a license from the publisher (in other words, pay a fee). This can deliver a fatal blow to smaller and newer publishers, and can even boost the spread of fake news due to restricted channels. For example, Spain tried that once, and as a result, Google News was forced to pull out of Spain, because nobody wants "link tax".
- The law itself bans memes altogether (since parodies infringe on copyright in this law). EU once tweeted that it does the opposite: embraces memes.
- They want YouTube dead so the world can be "a better place."
The Only Redeeming Quality
- It doesn't apply to every country or even the United States of America (only in the European countries that are in the European Union), so as with the Great Firewall, you can bypass it with a VPN.
The European Parliament has voted to reject a new copyright directive, which includes the particularly controversial Article 13. The proposed law was rejected by 318 votes to 278, with 31 abstentions. The EU's copyright reforms has been debated in September and successfully passed. Finally, on March 26, 2019, the European Parliament voted on Article 17, 348 in favor and 274 against.