EU’s ‘Robocop’ proposals for copyright law in the firing line



Online memes could disappear if copyright rules proposed by the EU come to fruition, an expert has warned.

The Copyright Directive, which the European Parliament will vote on this month, has incurred the ire of digital rights groups.

The legislation is intended to protect rights holders but critics say it fails to understand how people engage with web content.

Article 13 of the directive details that platform providers should “take measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rights-holders for the use of their works”.

But critics say that this will mean all internet platforms will have to filter content uploaded by users, which many think is an excessive restriction on free speech.

Copyright 4 Creativity, a campaign against Article 13, claims that the proposed law could “destroy the internet as we know it”.

“Should Article 13 of the Copyright Directive be adopted, it will impose widespread censorship of all the content you share online,” it said.

Jim Killock, executive director of the UK’s Open Rights Group, told the BBC: “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 judgement 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. This would be disastrous.”