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Will memes really be censored?

You may be dubious, but the current proposals in Article 13 of the EU’s proposed Copyright Directive are worrying. If Article 13 passes, Internet platforms rather than Internet users will be liable for copyright, which means most will resort to automatically censoring content with upload filters. Safeguards put in place for memes are voluntary in each EU Member state, and in many Member states, memes are already illegal because they are not considered parody. But that has not led to massive enforcement so far. It would under Article 13.

Is it just memes?

Memes are just the beginning. Theoretically, any content that can be copyrighted could be filtered. That includes music, videos, journalism, code, photographs, illustrations, and of course - memes. So with a ridiculous amount of content being uploaded to the Internet every second, there is a huge potential for automated content filters to wrongly censor content through ‘false positives’ (as proven by the faults in ContentID).

How will Article 13 affect me?

Whether a creator or a consumer, everyone who uses the internet will be affected by this law — which is why we all need to speak out against it.

Online platforms required to implement complex filtering systems will be held liable for copyright infringement, potentially incurring fines that threaten their economic viability.

If you are a creator or independent business, the content that you upload to share with your audience might be deleted without your consent.

Article 13 would restrict the ability of internet users to consume content – meaning they won’t be able to find and enjoy diverse kinds of cultural expressions that they have grown accustomed to. The days of communicating through gifs and memes, listening to our favourite remixes online, or even sharing videos of our friends singing at karaoke might be coming to an end.

Ultimately, the internet culture that has emerged in recent years – a culture that enables connections and democratises information – will become bureaucratic and restrictive.