If You Thought GDPR Was Annoying, Wait Until You Hear About THESE


Ok, they’ve not got a catchy acronym yet but after the mind-numbing circus that was GDPR, you really need to be aware of the apocalypse that could be coming your way…. Article 13 and Article 11.

User-generated content, links to articles from your website and (be brave) even memes could all be the stuff of memories, say the critics, if these new copyright laws actually progress. In fact, some have gone as far to say it could change the internet as we know it (and not in a good way).

A group of MEPs voted to approve Articles 13 and 11 and it will now go to the wider European Parliament to vote on in July so here’s what we know…

Article 13: puts more onus on websites to enforce copyright and could mean that every online platform allowing users to post content such as text, sounds, code or images, would need a content-recognition system to review all materials uploaded.

In June, 70 influential leaders in tech signed a letter opposing Article 13 which they called “an imminent threat to the future” of the internet.

Let’s just take a second to think how messy this could get for any level of communication channels or engagement we’re seeking with our audiences…. every post, picture or contribution, it really would change the fundamentals of audience engagement and any collaborative/user generated content we integrate into our channels.

Also, the content-recognition systems out there are predominantly US based (cue conspiracy theories over privacy) and are branded “censorship machines” by critics namely as they could allow governments to have greater control over censorship. It’s these machines that would aim to filter just about anything that infringes on copyright, preventing the platform from uploading or push back to seek licenses.

Article 11: requires online platforms to pay publishers a fee if they link to their news content.

Dubbed the Publishers’ Neighbouring Right, or the “link tax” by opponents, it would force the likes of Google, Microsoft and other platforms, to pay publishers for showing news snippets, or linking to news content in any way. It aims to support smaller news publishers and rights owners, driving users to their homepage rather than directly to news stories.

Firstly – is that what’s really going to benefit small publishers and at the same time provide users with a good experience? Secondly, it’s not been clearly defined as to what constitutes a link, which means it could massively be abused to curb freedom of speech and control content. I would hazard a guess that it would be similar to how the NLA constitute sharing news content – but I still struggle with how it works for users versus being another route to add a fee.

What law is it part of?

These fall under the proposed EU Copyright Directive and stem from a drive to prevent online piracy in music and video, shifting responsibility for enforcing copyright law onto websites and platforms and away from individual users.

What will it effect?

The culture of the internet as we know it now, live-streaming, code sharing, samples, remixes, satire videos and memes – could be driven off websites unless sites pay for the use of the copyrighted materials.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, a London-based organisation that supports freedom online told NBC news: “I think without a doubt there will be a threat to the way people use memes. They are clearly reusing copyrighted material, mostly legitimately, but it’s very hard for a machine to know that.”

Who’s Happy about it?

News publishers have welcomed Article 11 and the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association said the committee’s ruling was “a victory for fairness”.

Carol Perrone, the group’s president added “The Publishers’ Neighbouring Right will be key to encouraging further investment in professional, diverse, fact-checked content for the enrichment and enjoyment of everyone, everywhere”.

The Brussels-based Independent Music Companies Association said the committee’s ruling would address issues around licensing that have created a “value gap” in the music industry.

And, musicians have been quick to back this up, after all the digital disruption to the music industry has left an ongoing challenge to how artists actually make money from their music. Paul McCartney has written an open letter to the European Parliament urging them to back this law so that musicians can be fairly paid for their work. This side of the coin seems far easier to understand – but it’s where the surrounding content such as memes, GIFs and other assets which audiences may share, which causes the bigger grey mass which could take a while to unravel.

Will the digital market catch up (and could it?) with this type of copyright law… only time will tell, but I can bet money on a new wave of GDPR-esque ‘experts’ trying to figure it out in the meantime. *disclaimer – I am not such an expert!! However I will be keeping a close eye on this one, who doesn’t love a meme?!

This blog was first published on Comms2point0 – a place where you’ll find some great content for public sector comms and beyond!

Photo by Paulius Dragunas on Unsplash