When Lies are Told…or How the Meme Illustration Shows its Merits
As one would expect, the intense coverage by serious news outlets of the dangers of the Copyright Directive over the past weeks, with the ‘threat to the meme’ as tagline exemplifying the fact that Article 13 has a far reaching impact stretching into the absurd, has triggered the rightholders camp to spread out their own version of the ‘legal status’ of memes under Article 13. Kudos to the fact that they used an infographic and to the creativity they displayed in dismantling everything everyone ever said about Article 13. Such great effort certainly merits some scrutiny on our part.
|The best way to influence a discussion is to put the conclusion you want your reader to reach at the top. In this case, the conclusion this graphic is aiming for, is to disprove everything academics and experts have written so far and to lure you into believing ‘everything will be fine’ in an EU that adopts Article 13. In the process, it nicely highlights that memes can consist of images, videos of excerpts of texts, which is not unimportant, as we will see further down.|
|So memes are ok because there are exceptions on parody and quotation that would cover them?
This means that memes are often already illegal in many EU Member States currently, but that this has not lead to massive enforcement by rightholders under the current notice & take down procedure set in place by the e-Commerce Directive. There have been quite some take downs in the US however under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, some of which are listed here.
|But look: the good news is that only a few platforms will be covered…
Oh, wait a minute: doesn’t that contradict the fact that even the Rapporteur MEP Axel Voss admitted that he had no clue which platform will actually fall under this Article? And isn’t the extent of the scope illustrated by the continuous addition of half-defined carve outs they have been continuously adding (e.g. encyclopedia because not Wikipedia; online retailers because not eBay; open source platforms because not Github…oh wait they’re not all open source…hmmm).
|And then we haven’t even talked about entrusting all of this to blind algorithms, that block anything that looks like existing works or other subject matters.|
|The claims that there is a ‘safety clause’ and that platforms will have to reinstate content that was wrongfully blocked forgets to explain how complex and uncertain this procedure will be for the users. Moreover, it neglects the fact that the majority of the users will not be aware of their rights, and will thus not ask for their content to reinstated in the first place, or simply won’t bother and will stop sharing that type of content. My teenagers at home would certainly not bother!|
|It also ignores the fact that there is a risk of losing the momentum for your content. A good illustration can be found in this Zeit Online article, which writes about the case of the feminist organization Pinkstinks: one of their videos was automatically suspended by ContentID for an alleged copyright infringement of material from RTL, even though it was not Pinkstinks who had used content from RTL, but RTL who actually used their content in a broadcast without marking the source. The video, which was a crucial part of a recent campaign by Pinkstinks, was offline for 8 hours due to this, making them lose the viral effect it had initially flown on.|
|Ah, but you see, the system is already flawed today: look at the mistakes ContentID makes!
Yes, exactly. And maybe we should curb and frame those excesses instead of encouraging them at a larger Internet-scale? Maybe that is what we should have been talking about, as well as a User-generated content exception that is fit for purpose in the 21st century? Not extending faulty censorship machines in the hands of private corporations?
|OK, so now you’ve officially offended the God of memes and everyone’s intelligence in the process. That deserves a meme:|