Why your favorite memes might be dead soon


The current crackdown on European internet traffic has been brought to the doorstep of the European Union (EU). Public officials have constructed Article 13, a bill designed to implement a new set of copyright laws. All websites reliant on the laws of Fair Use and Safe Harbor with the intent of education, entertainment, journalism, and research, as well website hosts under copyright infringement, will be subjected to the restrictive use of all copyrighted material.

Fair Use means that all copyrighted works can be altered, used, referenced and recreated, as long as that material is not shown or used within its entirety. For example, a film reviewer would be allowed to show short clips of the film/trailers, promotional material and other related content, as long as it’s not the entirety of the film.

Safe Harbor is set under the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (USDMCA). If a YouTube channel were to air an entire episode of a television show with no added/altered content or commentary, then the channel itself could be sued or punished under this act. YouTube would be solely responsible for taking down the content.

The EU has many different policies regarding copyright, and the passing of Article 13 could turn up the heat on those laws tenfold. In Europe, users must abide by Permitted Use and not Fair Use.

Permitted Use is just that: one must have permission to use copyrighted material within very specific guidelines issued by the material’s owner. According to the 2001 Copyright In The Information Society Directive, all forms of private copying, education, quotation and parody are permissible.

In the United States, bills regarding copyright were made flimsy and amenable so the given list could be revamped for the sake of technological or social progression. The EU simply stopped there for the legal basis of content usage, and it will only be getting worse for internet users from there.

The implementation of Article 13 will eventually spill into the United States. The fine print of the article suggests that the idea of Safe Harbor will be under attack and removed. The passing of this bill could fundamentally destroy the ability to share any copyrighted material in all forms. People will not be able to post vlogs or share memes on certain websites again when these websites don’t allow the content to be uploaded in the first place. Only those with explicit approval from these mainstream outlets will be allowed to generate content.

This passing could also lead to the lack of Proportionate Content Recognition Properties (PCRPs) that already exist on mundane websites. PCRPs are the computers that automatically scan and approve all uploaded content to assure Fair Use and Safe Harbor.

The PCRPs that were instilled on the passing of Article 13 have been thoroughly kept vague for the sake of legal document manipulation. The music industry especially has been at the throats of internet users since the rise and fall of the music streaming service Napster in 2006.

The biggest losers for the bills passing are all internet users. While studios in the movie or music industry will be fine under the use of their own rights and content, the entire internet community will be facing the full-frontal force.

All content made in Europe will consequently be entrapped inside the continent, and all other content will be kept from coming in. The European internet will be put in a legal chokehold where only licensed content creators will be allowed to use their creativity for content ever again.

Thousands of jobs at these internet media outlets could be lost. It would become too risky for anyone to post anything possessing copyrighted material under the fears that they could be sued out of existence.

The deconstruction of Fair Use and Safe Harbor laws could also break every site on the internet. No longer would the individual account be targeted for infringement, rather the site hosting them would fall into legal troubles. Internet sites will end up having to do away with personal accounts because the risks will just be too high for them.

Who will be left on these sites? Only those whom platforms are certain have ownerships of IP rights, but the only users capable of having them are big corporations.

Even though Americans will eventually be affected by Article 13, the companies that operate out of the EU will be immediately. When countries have different laws, international businesses must abide by those laws. Even if the European internet is driven into darkness, that won’t equate to how badly it will spill over into every other region on the planet.

This could mean the eradication of a user’s remixes, parodies, jobs and even memes. The best thing the public can do is contact members of European Parliament to alert them of the incoming vote. As for now, all one can do is wait.