Column: What Article 13 is, why it’s important, and what we can do

Article 13 was intended to protect creators against copyright infringement — but it could have an effect on the entire Internet as we know it.

Madi Baughman is a sophomore journalism and political science major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about political and civil rights issues for The Maneater.

The Internet as we know it, despite many changes, remains a relatively free and fair place. However, that might be something that changes soon. On Sept. 12, the European Union parliament voted to approve copyright reforms in the form of Article 11 and Article 13. Article 11 would put a so-called “link tax” in place, which aims to give publishers the right to ask for paid licences when online platforms share their stories. Far more people are talking about Article 13, and for good reason: it could change the way we interact on the Internet.

Article 13 would force websites to create upload filters, which would scan every piece of uploaded material and check it against a database of copyrighted material. This sounds beneficial in terms of protecting some content creators like musicians, but it could hurt many others. Creators that base their content on things such as parodies, gaming, or reaction videos would pretty much get screwed over by Article 13. It would automatically eliminate their content from being displayed at all.

Ordinary users of internet platforms like Twitter or YouTube would also be affected, since Article 13 ignores the fair-use clause of copyright limitations. This could even affect students by limiting the amount of media they can research or use, since fair-use is ignored. Things as simple as the use of memes and reaction gifs could be affected, since those are technically copyrighted material.

This is a drastic decrease in freedom on the web, and is taking censorship to a whole new level. To save money, companies may not implement filters that are strictly region-based and try to keep the filtering to certain countries in Europe that adopt the articles — they may do one or a few simple filters, which would affect the US as well.

Even though this is a decision that took place in the EU rather than The United States, this could still have a massive impact on the internet as a whole. However, this law is not yet set in stone, so there are things we can still do about it. Individual EU member states must vote on the law at home before returning to vote in late 2018 or early 2019. There are many websites where you can petition and spread the word about getting individual European governments to vote against implementing Article 13.

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