We all enjoy social media, and creation outlets like YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, and Instagram. Recently on September 14th, a regulation was passed by the European Parliament that looks to change how we use these creation outlets, social media, and the Internet as a whole. If these regulations make it through a majority vote in the EU Parliament Second Reps, the ability to share photo, video, and user-created content online will be limited.
Article 13 is a proposed set of regulations made by a German representative, Axel Voss, that passed through a majority vote in the European Parliament, an organised council to set laws and regulations in Europe. This new article is creating controversy for its legality and warrant, especially among content-creating websites. The CEO of YouTube, in strong support of creators and against the proposed regulations, said in a Twitter post September 12th “The opportunity for anyone to earn a living is core to who we are @YouTube. Today's EU copyright vote undermines the creative economy on the web, and we will continue to advocate in the EU and around the world for creators and artists.” While Article 13 does seem like a bleak outcome for now, it still has to pass through the uppers of European Parliament, with representative influence.
The basics of Article 13 cover already instated copyright law, which Article 13 is attempting to change. This proposed regulation is going after content creators and copyright in general. Any image that contains a copyrighted photo or image, whether or not it is edited, is at risk now. This puts content creators at risk for copyright infringement, and forces websites that publish user-created content to the web to develop a filter for copyrighted material. This may seem like a harmless copyright suit by companies in Europe. However, the way Article 13 is worded, it almost appears as an enforcement to Creative Commons for Europe, which allows content-creators to use copyrighted material by only sighting the creator of the material, instead of paying for the rights. This is what raises the question of legality for Article 13; are content creators allowed to use and distribute copyrighted material under Creative Commons, or other means of public distribution, as if it were their content to use? Or, in other words, should all copyright on any product or image, regardless if that product or image was intended for redistribution, be credited the same as an enforced copyright, such as music or movie piracy? Some agree that copyright is copyright, others however enforce the claim that, if a company licenses a piece of work under Creative Commons, they are knowingly and willingly allowing their work to be used and distributed by content creators or companies.
With the controversy that comes with Article 13 already, there is a whole lot more to discuss. In an interview with BBC, the creator of the proposal, Representative Axel Voss of Germany did not know the full extent of what he was proposing. Apparently, the representative who comprised the proposal with companies, fellow representatives in Parliament, and various other state and governmental authority, did not read the specifics of the proposal to find various errors and abnormalities associated with it. Representatives from Germany’s own government have called Representative Voss’s decision for a proposal “rash” and “forceful.” Several government authorities in Europe have raised concern over the proposal’s passing through Parliament, while private companies have raised concern and have even published official documents stating their position over Article 13, such as the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, who have sighted European law regarding copyright, calling the proposal an “unclear legal situation.”
While there is a lot of unsettled bias over Article 13 and its legality in Europe, as well as the bias content creators have for making their money off of Creative Commons copyright law, it may just be a law that cannot be enforced. Most websites cannot afford a content filter, nevermind a database for large-scale information clusters, and while large-scale content creation corporations like YouTube can pay for the development of filters, it will be easier, and less expensive, to pay fines for violating copyright from the EU. Whatever laws or regulations are passed, the Internet is and always will be a public and private global phenomena, that no nation or group of people can control. The Internet is truly by the people, for the people, regardless of regulation.