Saved by Brexit, the UK will not abide by the European Union’s Copyright Directive, also known as the “meme ban,” Science Minister Chris Skidmore says.
Intellectual property rights and the laws that protect them
In a controversial attempt to benefit rights-holders, the European Union has promoted the EU Copyright Directive. However, Article 13 of the law would represent a great change to how content is shared on the internet, one that many have labeled as destructive for creativity.
The law emerged as a way to protect copyrighted content. The judicial mechanism, however, would make it almost impossible to upload content to platforms (such as YouTube), since it would be necessary to have the permission of the original creator for all aspects of the content, or else, the platform that hosts it could face legal charges.
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This law caused fear among internet users since that meant that contents such as memes, gifs, animations, commentary – among many others, would also be penalized.
Lawmakers were caught lying when they said that the law wouldn’t call for upload filters on the internet: German MEP Axel Voss from the ruling German CDU party – one in charge of the Directive – in August last year posted this tweet, which reads, verbatim:
Only a day after the EP voted in favor of the proposal, the French culture minister, Franck Riester, “admitted to the law requiring filters” and to his hopes that France would implement the legislation as quickly as possible with the consequence of “starting to lock down the internet,” urging introduction of “content recognition technologies.”
Since its conception, this Article has attracted the attention of large companies and creators who see it as a threat. Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, said that thanks to Article 13, it is likely that EU member countries could end up being completely blocked from the platform as it’s impossible to acquire the necessary rights to each of the videos.
The support that the United Kingdom has received
Although the world seems to agree on the negative effects of the law, it has already been approved, and EU member countries have until June 7 of 2021 to implement it.
The United Kingdom has confirmed that they will not be affected, since by that date the nation would not belong to the European Union. The statements are given a day after Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, signed the official UK withdrawal from the EU.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticized the law, siding with internet communities and claiming that it was “terrible for the internet”.
The decision not to adopt the law will be beneficial for UK trade according to lawyer Kathy Berry, who also congratulated the government on the initiative to withdraw.