The European Parliament’s controversial Article 13, created to prevent copyright infringement within the EU, may not only affect meme culture, but also YouTube content.

According to YouTube’s new “SaveYourInternet” initiative, if Article 13 is passes, it “could have unintended consequences that would dramatically change the framework that allows services like YouTube to host content from creators, and could end up harming the same small creators and artists it is supposed to protect.”

Originally rejected in July by the Parliament, Article 13 was voted on again in September, and this time it passed, with an overwhelming result of 438 to 226 votes. A final vote is scheduled to take place in January 2019; and if passed, would mean that every time someone breaks the law of copyright (for example, posts a video with a copyrighted song playing in the background), the platform would be held responsible. This would monetarily affect companies like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Some of these platforms are not willing to take the risk. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently wrote in a blog post, “The proposal could force platforms, like YouTube, to allow only content from a small number of large companies. It would be too risky for platforms to host content from smaller original content creators, because the platforms would now be directly liable for that content. Article 13 threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs, European creators, businesses, artists and everyone they employ.”

What could this mean for us? Basically, YouTube would be forced to delete many accounts, including makeup, gaming or comedy channels. YouTube would really only be able to feature videos from professional TV channels or TV shows. No original content. Instead, the platform would function more as a media-library.

Of course YouTube has so-called “Content ID”, which detects all sort of copyrights and already blocks or takes down videos, but it’s not enough. The problem with this upload filter is that it does not detect all copyrights in videos, creating a risk for YouTube, of being held responsible.

Creators and viewers are trying to act against the law by signing this petition. Others are sharing their opinions on Social Media with #SaveYourInternet, a campaign that you can learn more about clicking here.

But should we really be worried? Some of the members of the European Parliament, like German Republican Julia Reda, say no. On her personal website, she writes that she can’t imagine that the law will be applied–or at least how it’s written currently–and that only a few, more realistic, changes will be made.

“Big corporate lobbies are demanding these laws,” Reda suggests. “They’re hoping to make additional profits and gain more control over the web, after missing out on much of the digital transformation. Publicly, they insist these laws are necessary to protect European cultural industries from exploitation by foreign internet platforms.”

It sounds like there’s a lot of politics involved and personal interests at stake. Personally, I don’t think that the European Parliament will enforce the law by 2019, as it would have too many unintended consequences, like unemployment or even limiting the right of free speech. Then again, crazier things have happened. Make sure to sign the petition.


Tell us: What do you think of Article 13? Do you think the EU would really take away original YouTube content?


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