The crackdown on free speech and humor in the UK is beginning to rear its ugly head again, this time the political beast is after internet memes. Memes, remixes, and other user-generated content could soon be banned from online if the newly proposed rules on copyright are signed into law. Experts warn this could be a catastrophic blow for freedom of speech and other rights.
The legislation would protect right-holders to content in the age of the internet, doesn't seem so unreasonable, does it? Well, critics say it misunderstands the way people engage with content online and could end up being a form of overly excessive censorship. The new legislation goes by the name The Copyright Directive and its a pure and simple attempt to re-engineer the copyright itself to bring it into the internet age.
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Article 13 says that platform providers should "take measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rights-holders for the use of their works". This brings to mind a platform called Spotify which has long been criticized for making money off of artists songs without paying them their fair share if anything at all.
The net effect, according to critics, will require all internet platforms to filter all content put online by users, that means YouTube would have to manually screen your video being it goes live. Critics call the move an excessive restriction on free speech. There are also algorithms which have been employed in the past by major social media websites that can be programmed to fit a certain political ideology or bias which might "destroy the internet as we know it".
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A recent example of this fear set in motion is the targeting of conservative Christians on Twitter who have been banned simply for talking too much about God, Guns, and Country. A campaign against the new law said, "Should Article 13 of the Copyright Directive be adopted, it will impose widespread censorship of all the content you share online."
Executive Director of the UK's Open Rights Group Jim Killock said, "Article 13 will create a 'Robo-copyright' regime, where machines zap anything they identify as breaking copyright rules, despite legal bans on laws that require 'general monitoring' of users to protect their privacy. Unfortunately, while machines can spot duplicate uploads of Beyonce songs, they can't spot parodies, understand memes that use copyright images, or make any kind of cultural judgment about what creative people are doing. We see this all too often on YouTube already."
"Add to that, the EU wants to apply the Robocop approach to extremism, hate speech, and anything else they think can get away with, once they put it in place for copyright." Killock continued. "This would be disastrous."
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