Lawmakers in the EU passed a bill 438-226 passing through Articles 11 and 13, which are Copyright Directives sweeping across the European Union. Within these directives lies a host of Draconian Regulations which revolve around Internet Freedom.
This is a huge decision that will affect the world.
The issue with this Copyright Directive is the impact it will have not only on the sharing of information, but of free speech itself. This stems across all copyrighted material, videos, songs, headlines, etc.
Creators of Memes without the proper licensing will be subject to fines and penalties as well. The fines and penalties are subject to each country who must enforce these changes.
If I were to quote this exact sentence below in the EU, under this directive, I would be required to have a license to do so (from Gizmodo):
Article 11 has been variously called the link tax or the snippet tax. Designed to mitigate the power over publishers that Google and Facebook have amassed in the last decade. It codifies a new copyright rule for linking to news organizations and quoting text from their stories. Online platforms will have to pay for a license to link out to news publishers. This will theoretically help support organizations that are vital for public information and drive users to their homepages.
That all sounds decent in principle, but Article 11 doesn’t bother to even define what constitutes a link. Details will be left to the 28 individual countries in the EU to figure that out. That opens the door for political abuse of how news is spread in each country, and it will likely have the opposite of its intended effect.
Attempting to make sense of this legislation, supporters of the bill dubbed the day of the passing “’… a great day for Europe’s creators,’ said Helen Smith, executive chair of European music body Impala,”, found at the Guardian.
The result of these two Articles? The opening of The Onion Router (link to its description found here). In short, the Onion Router is an encrypted browser which allows people to navigate through the internet undetected through the use of relays and encryption.
Some people say it was developed by the Navy, some say it was developed as a nonprofit (I’m talking about the prestigious Dingledine, who’s work and advocacy on the TOR Project has helped it remain an attractive browser for people seeking anonymity). Anonymity in and of itself is objective, the word should not have a negative connotation. Merely wishing to be left alone, as long as you don’t harm anyone else in the process shouldn’t be stigmatized. Using anonymity to commit violent and fraudulent acts should.
Tangent aside, this browser would help people evade copyright, because it is very difficult for law enforcement to track down people using TOR unless they’re using other systems on their computer while operating TOR (having Google Chrome open while logged onto Facebook for example). This would be a perfect conduit for Meme Makers who have a passion for creating work using what would now be Copyrighted material.
One thing is for sure: thank your creator if you live elsewhere. Imagine needing a license to create memes? Crazy times in the EU.
Will we see this increase in State Power over the regular meme maker push European Memesters into Anonymity? Or will this regulation be a net positive over the long term?
I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
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