Is the controversial Article 13 stifling online creativity?

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Author: Rob Ward

There are new rules designed to protect the authors of copyrighted content that is posted online. Many have been calling for new laws, as with the rise of the internet, copyright laws have become outdated. However, one section of the guidance, known as Article 13, is proving controversial for many innovative brands.

In short, sites hosting user-generated content, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and Twitter, are now legally liable for the copyrighted material they host. Article 13 compels these websites to remove infringing content and show that they prohibited the upload of anything protected by copyright.

The directive forbids altering work that is owned by someone else for the purpose of republishing it to the web. This effectively bans the process of creating ‘memes’. Memes are images or songs that are edited for humorous purposes that are often created for satirical reasons or by brands to build upon a rival’s campaign. Under the new directive, creating a meme is prohibited, as would the remix of any song, unless there was written consent from the author.

The simplest and most likely response to the directive is for these sites to block all EU user-generated content at the point of upload. This is because as soon as copyrighted work has been published to the world, it immediately breaks the law and the site becomes legally liable for breaking copyright law. This is why many are concerned as they believe that creativity will be stifled.

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