Privacy activists have warned of the chilling implications of new adjustments to copyright law approved in the European Union – which could effectively ‘ban’ memes.
Article 13 and Article 11 of the Copyright Directive mean that ‘user-generated content’ (including memes, text audio and video) have to be screened by websites to see if they violate copyright.
That means that things such as memes – which use pictures lifted from films, photoshoots and comics – would be in violation of the law.
Musicians have also warned that it could spell an end to DIY remixes.
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Privacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation posted a letter signed by 70 internet experts including inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wale warning of the dangers of the law.
The EFF letter said, ‘By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.’
German MEP Axel Voss said: ‘This vote marks the first step of the parliamentary procedure to adopt copyright laws fit to meet the challenges of the internet.
‘The last laws to address copyright in the information society date back 17 years and the internet of today is fundamentally different to what it was in 2001.’