The UK has decided that it will no longer implement Article 13 – a controversial EU copyright directive known affectionately as ‘the meme ban’ – due to its departure from the EU.
The minister for communities and science, Chris Skidmore, confirmed last week that the UK would play no part in the legislation. Responding to a written question in parliament, he said: “The United Kingdom will not be required to implement the directive, and the government has no plans to do so. Any future changes to the UK copyright framework will be considered as part of the usual domestic policy process.”
‘The meme ban’ intends to limit how copyrighted material is shared online, although companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter were heavily opposed to its implementation as it would mean they’d have to police their enormous amounts of user-generated content more closely. YouTube even launched the hashtag #SaveYourInternet in protest.
The unique brand of Silicon Valley libertarianism that underpins organisations like Facebook can have disastrous consequences; earlier this month, the platform said it won’t be removing lies in political advertising on the basis that the electorate “should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all”. An alarming admission given that the US will vote in a general election this November.
Unfortunately, though, when it comes to Article 13, you might have to side with the tech giants if you want to continue deep-frying memes into oblivion. The directive would require companies to use automatic filters that they claim would not be able to distinguish between a genuine copyright infringement and content that is merely “for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody and pastiche”, AKA, a meme. The other EU nations will have until June 7 2021 to implement the reforms.
Read our investigation into how memes became a coping mechanism for our chaotic times in the 2010s here.