On Monday, the European Parliament approved the largest, most controversial changes to copyright legislation in the past 20 years. Once these laws come into effect, this will be the most monumental change to internet regulation since General Data Protection Regulation was made in 2016, which requires organisations to appoint data protection officer services in the UK.
MEPs Approve Extensive Changes To Copyright Laws
These changes are well known because of two clauses, articles 11 and 13, which are very contentious. They have been the reason behind a heated battle between online activists, lobbyists and groups who fight for freedom of expression.
Read on to find out what effect this will have on the internet.
Will It Still Be Possible To Upload Web Content?
While people will still have the right to upload content to the Internet, technology firms, like Google, have made warnings about much more content being removed automatically.
At this point, Facebook and YouTube already delete video and audio files that contain copyrighted content. For instance, YouTube scans files and matches it up with content added by the original owners. The creators are offered the option to block it, make money from it or keep track of it. Once the new laws are in place, tech companies will be liable if any copyrighted content is uploaded, especially if an automated scan has been run.
Why Are Tech Firms Opposed To This Move?
They believe that the changes that are proposed are not realistic and that artists are already being fairly compensated for their work. YouTube is so against this that they have warned about EU users not being allowed to access videos at all.
Are Others Against These Changes As Well?
Yes. Many have argued that this will be detrimental to online freedom of expression since the only way to make sure that people are compliant would be to block any content that references copyright laws at all, and this would include remixes, criticism and quotes.
Some people feel like the law will only be beneficial to big tech companies since they will be the only ones who could afford to be compliant.
How Will This Effect Online News?
While article 13 will make it difficult for companies to release content uploaded by users, article 11 specifically addresses sharing news articles.
Publishers say that it is very hard for news companies to fund journalism and technology firms that monetise news sharing should be required to pay their fair share.
The directive has a new requirement in place that service providers in the information sector have to secure rights to all news articles they share. Facebook and Google News will still be allowed to show snippets of articles and encyclopaedias that are not commercial, like Wikipedia, will be exempt.
How Does This Legislation Affect Memes?
One large argument against the changes is the fact that it could effectively ban all memes. This is because of the fact that copyrighted materials cannot be uploaded without permission and much of the content that is considered shareable contains elements from movie and TV scenes.
Tweaks were made that were supposed to protect this type of content “for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody and pastiche”. Tech companies say there is no way to uphold these laws since there is no automatic filter that can determine if the uploaded material is parody or copyright infringement.
When Will This Come Into Force?
From the date the legislation is enacted, states within the EU will have two years to begin using these new rules. This will likely occur in May or June of this year. This means that the UK will have the option to implement these rules if they have left the EU by that time.
Whether the UK leaves Europe with or without a deal being in place, it is likely they will follow Europe’s lead on this.