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Article 13; unlucky for some? Well it certainly appears that way and it could end up having an impact on more than just “some”. This week, countries in the EU have approved sweeping reforms that will affect European copyright laws – but what exactly are the law changes and how are they going to affect us?


To use it’s full name, the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market will require websites that rely heavily on user generated content; such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram; to become responsible over copyrighted material being shared illegally on their platforms. The most divisive element of the reform is; as previously mentioned: Article 13 and the biggest opponents to this new law are prominent YouTubers who seem set to lose out because of the types of content that they produce. Because of the nature of the law, it is being touted as Hollywood Vs Silicon Valley – with Google and Facebook also opposing the new laws alongside internet freedom campaigners due to worries over censorship.


So, why is Article 13 most focused on?

Article 13 – or 17 as it has now been changed to; would specifically make tech companies the liable parties for copyright breaches. This would mean that they would have to acquire licenses from rights holders allowing them to host copyrighted content in the first instance. The obvious issue with this is the massive task of monitoring and policing this. If Facebook, for example; are now liable for the content that it posts. So, if in the case of this week’s most recent big release – Game Of Thrones Series 8; people create and post “memes” or Gifs of the show without the correct copyright approval or license; it would be Facebook that would get in trouble for being the host of the content.

The main critics of this new legislation are describing that to protect themselves against this; tech companies will simply just block everything before it’s even uploaded. No content, no copyright breach; right? The EU have said that this won’t necessarily be the case, however; because people will still be able to share that content freely.


So how will it really affect us on a day to day basis?

Revisiting the recognition issue will be the biggest challenge to tech companies that host this content. One of the earlier version of this law suggested that they use “proportionated content recognition technologies” which would basically mean there’s an underlying expectation to use automated scanners and filters to check every single piece of content that is uploaded and stop any potential copyright violations from passing through.

Another issue, to use the Game Of Thrones analogy again; one of the most successful pieces of marketing for the TV series is through viral marketing including the huge number of “memes” and gifs that have been created and shared in their millions by anticipating fans across the world. While things such as Game Of Thrones or even TV programmes such as Love Island or I’m A Celebrity could lose their cohesion with online audiences because of the lack of ability to create “fan-generated content” which undoubtedly helps conversation pushing impressions across the internet to new audiences.

The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said after the EU vote:

“With today’s agreement, we are making copyright rules fit for the digital age,”

“Europe will now have clear rules that guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users and responsibility for platforms.”

It is unlikely that Brexit would affect this legislative change as the majority of laws that come in before the UK’s exit from the EU are most likely to be kept; and that being said: the UK was one of the key member states in getting the legislation passed through anyway.

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