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What Is Article 13?

 

In this digital age, new technical innovations and advents have made it possible for relatively anything to be considered plausible. However, the legal system has still maintained its autonomy and governance of matters that hold precedence in its regard. With each country formulating their cyber laws, EU has a new copyright plan in place for digital platforms operating within the realm of the internet.

 

This new decisive plan requires platforms and tech giants such as Facebook, YouTube & Google, to take responsibility for any unlicensed content that appears on their platform, thus pushing them to face the brunt of any activity that comprises illegal copyrighted material sharing. If they fail to adhere or if they fail to make an effort to license copyright-protected material from the rights holders, then these content-sharing services will be held liable.

 

However, services can safeguard themselves if they establish they have done the following:

 

  • The platform made its foremost effort to get permission from the copyright holder.
  • The platform made its foremost effort to ensure that the content identified by right holders was not made available.
  • The platform made its foremost effort and took due notice of removing any infringing content from their platform.

 

Moreover, the laws mentioned above and rules apply to services that have been operating within the EU for more than three years, paired with having an annual turnover of more than €10m ($11.2m, £8.8m). Additionally, this law doesn’t aim to reduce the engagement ratio of a consumer or viewer with the content they view, as Article 13 encourages and promotes viewers to view copyrighted material to review, criticise, or utilising for parody.

 

With the release of Article 13, tech giants haven’t allowed this matter to be brushed under the carpet. Instead, they have explicitly vocalised their opinion. Google stated how this shift in the rules governing the digital space would ‘change the web as we know it’. The following weeks will decide the fate of these content sharing platforms, as MEP’s will vote and decide whether it should be mandated into law.

 

There are, however, certain exceptions, as this directive doesn’t employ the use of an all-inclusive approach. Instead, it excludes entities that they deem befitting, such as the following:

 

  • Cloud storage services
  • Non-profit online encyclopaedias (Wikipedia)
  • Online marketplaces
  • Communication services
  • Open-source software development platforms

 

In the wake of the controversial Article 13, the onus on tech firms’ trebles by a considerable amount, as the presence of infringed material on their sharing platform is directly correlated to their operational capacity; this, therefore, pushes and urges tech companies to filter content prior to it being uploaded, shared and circulated on their sharing platforms. Even though the directive doesn’t directly encourage or coerce firms into filtering the content that is published, firms will be left with no other choice once the directive is implemented comprehensively.

 

YouTube currently has a system ‘Content ID’, which utilises the use of an algorithm to remove copyright violations from its platform. However, freedom of speech contesters and habitual internet users themselves are concerned about further stringency, as extensive filtering and limiting could change the landscape of content production and sharing.

 

Artistic Freedom & Protection

 

Before the agreement of the final directive, there were three different versions, one by the Council of the EU, one by the European Parliament and one by the European Commission.

 

The amalgamation of these documents had led to the creation of a final directive, which doesn’t take memes and GIFS into its fold, thus providing an outlet for content creators to push their content to the forefront, without worrying about utilising copyrighted scenes from films and TV series. Despite the criticism panned by critics, specific ‘alterations’ in the directive made it easy for memes to be used and shared to review, quotations or other social media activity.

 

However, this might be cumbersome and troublesome for tech firms, as a blanket filter implemented by them will take all copyrighted content into its fold, hence including memes and GIFS.

 

This is precisely where the criticism and backlash balloons to a considerable amount, as the Chief Executive of Open Knowledge ‘Catherine Stihler’, spoke about how this directive leads to the genesis of a closed society, where instead of sharing and evolving through the knowledge shared through the internet, few people will become empowered.

 

If the law is passed, the respective national governments will implement the directive over the course of the next two years, which in turn will shift how content creators interact and engage with the content they curate and thus publish onto sharing platforms such as Twitter, YouTube & Facebook.

 

On the whole, with the emergence of Article 13, artists and media publications are the ones to most likely gain, as they are currently concerned about the unrestrained circulation of their intellectual property on online domains, which shall be curbed with the introduction of Article 13.

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