The history of EU Copyright has taken an interesting twist recently which is probably why you’re reading this article. With so many resources out there giving conflicting opinions I thought it was about time I had my two cents. Here’s everything you need to know condensed down into 5 minutes or less.
What’s All the Fuss About EU Copyright?
The new EU copyright directive has recently been voted through, bringing with it the controversial piece of legislation that is Article 13. Known rather evocatively as ‘The Meme Killer’ this is one page of the EU rulebook that every tech-head really needs to know about: starting with you.
The changes that have recently been made to EU law may sound like they’re far removed from everyday life, but that’s where you’d be mistaken. They actually get to the very heart of what we can freely post and how news can be disseminated right the way across the world. When you put it like that, it’s perhaps no surprise that the lobbying efforts, on both sides, have been intense, to say the least.
The Changes to the Way We Get Our News
It’s clear that the vast majority of us now get our news online — when was the last time you walked out in the rain first thing in the morning to buy a newspaper?
Another piece of new legislation, known as Article 11, has changed the way we receive our news forever. By forcing Internet platforms like Google and Facebook to pay a fee to news outlets for posting their content, it’s designed to redress the balance. The downside of this is that merely hyperlinking a two-word message to a news source that interests you may now cost you money.
While this may have been done with the best of intentions, it’s not without its problems. The precise wording involves the phrase: ‘insubstantial content,’ to exempt certain posts from having to pay. The problem we have here is that there’s no concrete definition as to what this term actually means. Do we take a hyper-link, a phrase, or a one-line quote to be ‘insubstantial content’? We just don’t know, and that’s why people have been lobbying hard for months now.
Still, due to the size of the companies and Internet platforms involved it may be the case that a series of legal workarounds are enacted that render the changes null and void. But we can’t necessarily think the same about ‘The Meme Killer’…
Time to Wave Goodbye to Memes?
Everyone loves a good meme, don’t they? They’re priceless nuggets of information that make their way around the world in an instant. They make us laugh, cry, smile, think; you name it they’ll have done it at some point.
What the new landscape will look like in time is anyone’s guess, but here are the key bits of info you need to know.
You, Will, Be Filtered Out of Search Results
If you breach copyright, then your post will not be allowed to appear in search results thanks to Article 13. That applies to literally every type of content you can think of: songs, memes, videos, images; they’re all included. Plus, if you post them, you won’t be visible too!
While the idea is to protect creators from having work misappropriated or used without consent, the fallout is much wider. So many of us post in this manner that it will have a profound impact on the way we all behave online. What was natural one day, will be invisible in search the next. That could also mean retrospective delisting of content that posted copyright materials before the legislation came into effect. Watch this space for more on that one.
So, is there any way you can get around it?
You’ll Need a License to Post
The directive will now require every user to acquire a suitable license before posting copyrighted materials. The important thing to know here is, this is not a, one size covers all deal like a driving license. That would be great, but it’s not the reality we’re facing my digital friends.
You’ll need a license for every individual piece of content you post. What form that will take and what the application process will look like remains to be seen. One thing is for sure though: if you want to spontaneously retweet but have to apply for a license manually, then this could kill off large swathes of the Internet.
It may be that you can consent when posting much like you can opt in or out with cookies. However, we’ll have to wait and see.
It’s clearly a new era online, so let’s all cross our fingers that these restrictions don’t limit us too much.