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European MEPs Team Up To Bust Myths Surrounding Controversial ‘Meme-Killing’ Legislation

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A group of MEPs and European politicians have released a paper aimed at disproving a number of myths related to what they call a ‘False Spam Campaign on Copyright’ currently being undertaken by the “technology sector” to try and tarnish the new EU-wide Copyright Directive.

“It is unfortunately worth noting that the campaign we are under does not originate from genuinely concerned citizens, but is primarily orchestrated and funded by the technology sector. For example, the CREATE.REFRESH campaign is primarily coordinated by technology giants to get individuals to lobby against the Copyright Directive,” the group said in a statement.

“In light of the unprecedented spam campaign flooding our inboxes regarding the Copyright Reform, we thought it wise to explain why all these spam emails are factually incorrect and do not reflect the actual text on Articles 11 and 13 that were voted for in JURI Committee,” they continued.

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Memes have already starting surfacing about the Copyright Directive

The group wanted to make seven points clear

1: Article 13 will not censor users

The group says: “Article 13 imposes no obligation on users. On the contrary, the Article actually enhances the legal certainty for users to post and share things on these platform as it obliges the platforms to get licenses from artists that will cover the acts of all individual users acting in a non–commercial capacity.”

2: Article 13 will not filter the internet

The group says: The measures will not filter the internet. They only concern active platforms that share copyright protected content. This specific copyright protected content will be identified on the basis of information provided by the artists to the platforms (digital fingerprint).

Article 13 clearly states that Member States shall ensure that the implementation of such measures shall be proportionate and strike a balance between fundamental rights of users and right holders and shall in accordance with Article 15 of Directive 2000/31/EC, where applicable, not impose a general monitoring obligation.

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Voss Axel, Rapporteur on Copyrights and proponent of the Copyright Directive

3: Article 13 will not breach consumer privacy/fundamental rights

The group says: “The protection of intellectual property rights is a fundamental right enshrined in Article 17 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Article 13 specifically clarifies that the measures should not require the identification of individual users and the processing of their personal data and should be in full compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation.”

4: In the case of a wrongful deletion, users will have a right to complain

The group says: “Article 13 specifically provides that if any content is wrongfully removed by the platforms, consumers have access to effective and expeditious complaints and redress mechanisms, at a much higher standard compared to what is already currently available for consumers.”

5: Article 13 will not affect the entire internet (including Wikipedia and Open Source Software)

The group says: “Article 13 actually only concerns platforms that host artistic and creative content protected by copyright and that optimise, categorise and curate creative works. This specifically excludes services acting in a non-commercial purpose such as online encyclopaedias, as well as educational and scientific repositories, providers of cloud services (DropBox), open source developing platforms, online market places and all services where content is uploaded with the authorisation of all concerned right holders.”

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6: Article 13 will not kill memes

The group says: “Again, Article 13 only creates an obligation at the level of the services and not on the consumers. People will still be able to access and post their content freely on 9GAG, Facebook or other platforms. It must be noted that in most cases memes and mash-ups are and will continue to be covered by existing copyright exceptions (i.e. parody, criticism, citation, etc.). Therefore, they by definition can be created and posted by citizens on the basis of such exceptions.”

7: The proposal would not impose a link tax

The group says: “Users sharing links to news publications on social media are not affected. All acts of hyperlinking are clearly excluded from the scope of Article 11.”

A video made by Maltese Youtuber Grandayy in response to Article 13, highlighting how his work, which has millions of views and often incorporates famous characters that he then edits in his own style, will be impacted if the law is passed

What is Article 13 and why are content creators wary of it?

Article 13 is one part of a new EU Copyright Directive called the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. It is a proposal that is aimed at harmonising all of member states’ copyright laws. It is designed to update the latest EU copyright law, which was enacted back in 2001, 17 years ago, when few people could foresee what the internet would become.

However, the terms within the new directive have been criticised as too vague and too broad, which may lead to content creators receiving more strikes and takedowns of their content when they attempt to upload it.

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If the legislation is enacted, everything that anyone uploads onto the internet will be scanned for copyright, similar to what already happens on platforms like Soundcloud and Youtube. If you upload content – a meme, an edited photo, etc – that is deemed to have broken copyright law, then you might need to pay someone to upload your edit.

Article 13 has also come under fire by Maltese creators and European creators alike, with critics saying it will change the way the internet as we know it functions at a basic level. Many are saying that the current fair use of copyrighted material system that content creators rely on will be impacted greatly, with others seeing the extension of copyright laws onto the internet, a place where content is often recycled, edited, and built upon, as something that could change the internet for the worse.

What do you think of Article 13?

READ NEXT: Malta’s Most Famous Youtuber Accuses PN MEP Of Threatening Free Internet With His Vote

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