Yesterday, the EU passed a sweeping and wide-range set of copyright protection laws, most of which were rather uncontroversial. One article of the laws, known as Article 13, however, has come under major fire by not just the global populace, but also tech companies, and social media artists for posing the dangerous impact of severely limiting how media is shared.
The article states that companies like Youtube, Facebook, and Spotify will have to keep track of material that are believed to be “copywritten”, or at least against the compliance of an incredibly vague description of what counts as copyright. Certain services such as Wikipedia are exempt from these laws, as they are non-profits that do not benefit from the purposed violating material.
The new article poses a threat to vibrant internet cultures such as memes, which use unlicensed images as part of the culture. The new article would severely hurt such sub-cultures in the European Union, especially if bots, which cannot detect context, are used to track the violating material.
Another group under threat are European streamers, who may get striked or even shut down for streaming what games they are playing. It could cut the amount of streamers out, as these streamers would be afraid to display their games for fear of getting copyright striked.
Another blow the article poses would be to many tech companies, who argue that it would be a limit to free speech, and lead to possible censorship, which has drawn the harshest criticism. The article will also crush smaller news sites and other smaller companies, as they would have to pay to use information and snippets of information just to create news in a method known as the “link tax”. Only larger companies would be able to afford this “link tax” further crushing free speech and encouraging censorship.
There is still much uncertainty about how the article will even be applied, however, especially as it only applies to those within the EU. VPN poses a great challenge to the application of the article, as those with VPN can simply change their region base and gain access to the censored content, completely circumventing the article. Also, it would be just about impossible to catch every single thing that may violate copyright law, especially as different regions interact with one another.
The article, along with the rest of the laws, are not set to go into full effect for two years. There are already calls to overturn the passing of Article 13 by the European populace, who can implement a referendum to do away with Article 13.