But... what else will we do online?
The fun police, also known as the European Parliament, are clamping down on YouTube and social media sites in a new piece of legislation called the EU Copyright Directive, which was passed today.
Commentators have spent the last few months expressing fears about Article 13 in particular, which would require YouTube and Twitter to automatically filter out any copyrighted content, in a move that some fear could bring an end to memes and parody music videos. Back in June, campaigners from the tech industry wrote an open letter that called the move “catastrophic”. “We cannot support Article 13... For the sake of the internet's future, we urge you to vote for the deletion of this proposal,” they wrote. It’s an unprecedented move from the European Parliament to limit the more innovative and sharing aspects of the internet.
There is also concern about Article 11, which has been dubbed a “hyperlink tax”, as it would require sites like Google and Facebook to pay news organisations to link back to their content and use their headlines. If Google chooses not to pay to display your content, it locks you out of the most popular search engine online, and limit your audience.
Members of European Parliament voted massively in favour of both Article 11 and 13, with 438 of them supporting the tighter restriction, versus only 226 who voted against it.
Some argue that this is a victory for creativity – after all, the whole purpose of the legislation is to ensure that creators are in control of where their work is shared. The Society of Authors argued on August 30 that the new legislation would actually be a beneficial move, as it will get creatives paid (and we definitely need to see more of that). “Not allowing creators to make a living from their work is the real threat to everyone’s digital creativity,” they claimed in a blog post.
But others counter that the only people set to really benefit from these new laws are the big corporations. “Today, MEPs have decided to support the filtering of the internet to the benefit of big businesses in the music and publishing industries, despite huge public outcry,” Siada El Ramly told The Independent. She is the director general of EDiMA, the trade association representing the online platforms. “We hope that governments of the EU will hear their citizens’ concerns in the next stage of negotiations.”
However, with Brexit on the horizon, these new laws may not impact the UK after all. Watch this space.