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EU lawmakers decide to not ruin the internet

Published Jul 5th, 2018 5:46PM EDT
EU Copyright Law Meme
Image: Shutterstock

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The future of the beloved meme is in danger, reports revealed a few days ago, and it was all because of a proposed law in the European Union. Lawmakers were considering legislation that would make it impossible for all those cute/annoying memes we see everywhere online these days to exist. That’s because the EU was looking to reform copyright laws and force websites to remove any images that would feature unlicensed content. Most memes are created with blatant disregard for copyright, not that anyone is really complaining.

Thankfully, EU lawmakers thought twice before killing the meme, and saved it, albeit narrowly.

Some 40 votes separated meme-killers (278 members of the European Parliament) from meme fans (that’s 318 votes), according to VentureBeat, but the matter might not have been settled for good. The law will be revised, and a new vote will occur in September.

Hopefully, the controversial articles in the law, 13 and 11, will be changed to take into account the way the internet actually works.

Various companies including Mozilla and Wikipedia have voiced their concerns online ever since the proposed “Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market” copyright laws became public, and it looks like some of the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have heard those complaints.

Article 13 would make digital platforms, like social networks, liable for copyright-infringing content such as memes. Article 11, meanwhile, would force websites to pay publishers a fee if they showed any copyrighted content or link to it. In other words, Article 13 and 11 would cripple the web as we know it, at least in Europe.

Let’s hope MEPs keep up the memes protections in place come September, regardless of what changes the law receives.

Hours before the crucial vote, local Wikipedia pages went dark in multiple markets, including Italy, Spain, and Poland, in protest to the proposed regulation.

Mozilla’s head of EU public policy Raegan MacDonald applauded the vote, saying that the company will continue to fight “to make sure this proposal serves its purpose of modernizing copyright in Europe:”

The European Parliament has today heard the voice of European citizens and voted against proposals that would have dealt a hammer blow to the open internet in Europe.

By a clear majority, MEPs have rejected rubber stamping proposals that would have forced internet companies to filter the web, and would have introduced an unprecedented tax on linking online.

This is great news for Europe’s citizens, its SMEs and startups, especially those in the creative sectors as, while the proposed rules were supposed to protect and support them, they would have been the ones to suffer most under the new regime.

The last few weeks have seen a massive mobilisation of public opinion in Europe – as the impact of this regressive law upon everything from memes to news articles online became clear. The momentum is growing and Mozilla will go on fighting to make sure this proposal serves its purpose of modernising copyright in Europe.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.