Written by Kristýna Hřivnáčová |
Imagine this. You want to watch a new film review by your favourite YouTuber – but their content says: ‘Not available in your country’. Or maybe you’d like to buy a T-shirt with the original Star Wars branding – but Etsy can’t show these examples. Perhaps you wish to dance to Beyoncé’s Single Ladies with your friends and want to Snapchat it to the world – but you can’t upload this snapsterpiece.
As strange as it sounds, this could soon be the case for everybody within the European Union.
What is Article 13?
Article 13 is a part of the EU Parliament and Council’s Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market. As such, it seeks to adjust the law to the online sphere in order to prevent copyright infringement and unlawful usage of other people’s creations. It seems only sensible that works should be protected online, but although it sounds good in theory, it proves to be much more difficult in reality.
What would Article 13 actually do?
If Article 13 were incorporated into the EU law in its current version, the liability for copyright infringement would lie with the host website. In order to protect themselves, big hosting sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Reddit or Twitter might install filters which won’t allow you to publish because doing so would pose too much of a financial risk.
This would reduce the amount of user-generated content drastically. Things such as music covers, parodies, Vine compilations, or gifsets would be caught in a filter.
What do others think?
While some support Article 13 – Sir Paul McCartney among them – many feel that it would stifle creativity, put more power over available information into the hands of political bodies, and limit freedom of expression.
“I remain committed to making sure the web is a free, open, creative space — for everyone,” wrote Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, on the internet’s 29th birthday this March. His belief was shared by 69 other big names in the internet industry in an open letter to the President of the EU Parliament, Antonio Tajani, which was written this June to highlight “an imminent threat to the future of [the] global network”.
What can we do?
For some things, it is too late. Article 13 has been approved to proceed this September, but it will return to the EU Parliament this coming January to face a vote on the final version. This is right before the parliamentary elections in May which means many current MEPs will be searching for ways to appeal to the voters – if you email, call or Tweet your MEPs (information here) to make them aware of your stance on the problem before the final vote in January, you might cause their volte-face.
Another way to help would be to spread awareness – let people know what they might be losing. Film a video, make an Insta story, write a blog entry, share a snapchat, send a link to this article to your friends. Not only because you want to enjoy all the content available, but also because if you work in the creative industry, Article 13 may be eliminating your employment opportunities or harming your business.
The internet- by its very nature- is intricate, hard to grasp, and almost impossible to define. The amount of data produced every day reaches up to 2.5 quintillion bytes, maybe this number is too unimaginable – 4 million videos watched on YouTube or 3.6 million searches on Google every minute may be easier to grasp.
We rely on the free internet, with all its positives and negatives, with a lot and then some. If that is something you want to keep, use your voice to fight for it. #SaveYourInternet.