EU’s Article 13: The Death of YouTube?

In a move that has been criticized by EU online activists unanimously, the European Parliament has recently introduced the Copyright Directive. Part of this directive is the controversial Article 13. This segment of the Directive has far-reaching consequences for all online businesses and their clients across the EU. Let us tell you a little more about it.

EU's Article 13: The Death of YouTube and Memes?

EU’s Article 13: The Death of YouTube and Memes?

What Does the Copyright Directive’s Article 13 Mean for You?

In a nutshell, Article 13 is designed to extend prevalent copyright laws to the internet. This move would have brought all online platforms under the legal radar while also imposing some restrictions on content use. So far, the internet has remained relatively free of regulation but this might change very soon.

Now that Article 13 has been passed by the European Parliament, it will introduce a staggering amount of legal considerations. The copyright laws will make it very hard to freely access and distribute content. Now, for some people, this does not sound like that bad an idea. However, for the majority of internet users, this will literally mean a death sentence to internet culture.

Why Was Article 13 Being Opposed?

The most vocal critics of Article 13 are citing the tremendous restrictions that will be imposed on internet users. Fundamentally, internet content is free for all and without any copyright laws. There is already a fairly robust legal framework for the protection of content and its fair usage. The most common currency of express online, memes would be hit the hardest by Article 13.

According to a leading EU public domain organization, Article 13 is a lopsided take on the actual facts of the matter. The Communia International Association has stated that Article 13 does not recognize the nuance of copyrighted use. Further, it goes against fundamental freedoms and does not account for how the majority of online copyright material is actually used.

The remix culture, a popular part of online culture, would come under unwarranted scrutiny and regulation because of Article 13. Naturally, this would severely curtail free expression and use of creativity online. Further, the growing online markets around EU would also come under considerable restrictions.

Who Supports Article 13?

The biggest support for Article 13 has come from many prominent figures in the music industry. YouTube, run by Google, is cited as a major source of economic loss for artists and composers worldwide. Many music industry influencers like Sir Paul McCartney and CEOs Michael Dugher and Robert Ashcroft have joined the proverbial chorus. They argue that the original creators of music do not get the just monetary rewards they deserve.

Many of these voices have further argued that Google has created quite a lot of misinformation regarding Article 13. They claim this is to further its own interests and retain the current advantage that it enjoys. Further, they have stated that such reforms are a sure way to provide legal protection via copyright laws to artists.

This will, in turn, create a creativity-fostering ecosystem that will ensure digital musical services evolve in the best way. This, they say, is in the best interests of both artists and their fans alike.

Who Is Critical of Article 13?

Recently, a letter was jointly written by major internet figures including Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web and Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Co-founder. The letter was drafted along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and over 70 other internet pioneers. This letter warned of the potential dangers Article 13 posed to online freedoms. According to the letter, this legislation could turn the internet into a tightly regulated cyberspace inimical to innovation.

The letter further cautions against Article 13 stating it will burden new companies with costly regulatory technologies. This would almost certainly inhibit their overall growth and reduce online business viability. As a result, all online industries involving remixed content as well as open-source codes would be hampered.

The letter clearly stated that such a move would compel startups to begin operating in other jurisdictions with relaxed laws. At the same time, venture capitalists would avoid investing in EU companies since growth beyond a certain point would become unprofitable.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki also made her opinion about Article 13 known on Twitter.

Wojcicki recently even claimed the new legislation will limit the number of YouTube videos EU residents will be able to watch.

Article 13 and E-Commerce Domain

Another issue was raised with the Copyright Directive negatively impacting the e-commerce domain. According to the Max Planck Institute of Innovation and Competition, certain aspects of the Directive would deter free expression and information sharing online.

Near the end of last year, as many as 56 academics also stated that Article 13 infringed on several fundamental rights. This open letter was penned by Liberties and EDRi and it was highly critical of the Article’s practical applicability.

The biggest emphasis was put on the curtailment of fundamental rights as a direct result of the Article. All internet companies operating in the EU would have imposed restrictions on their users that would directly contradict such rights. The letter further explained the said violation by quoting Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

What Is Next for Article 13?

Now that Article 13 has been approved, it is set to change the way we use the Internet. Article 13 will also impact Brexit. Currently, the UK is uncertain about whether they want to move forward with Brexit.

Now, Article 13 is certainly going to impact their overall decision as it is set to be instrumental in the growing digital market. Without a doubt, voices from the UK will be on both sides of the debate. This is sure to play a major role in how the reformed Article 13 turns out to be.

The general consensus is that it imposes too many restrictions for the supposed protection of a few rights. As such, you can expect the Copyright Directive and Article 13, in particular, to be a hot topic in the coming months.

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