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The EU is one step closer to banning memes and ‘destroying the internet’

The European Union (EU) is pressing ahead with efforts to ban online memes under new digital copyright laws, with the controversial rules – Article 11 and Article 13 – now having successfully passed through an EU committee. 

In what might be the first justifiable reason to actually support Brexit, the EU’s JURI commission voted in favour of the Copyright Directive on June 20. This means they will now be put forward to the European Parliament with a view to being passed into law.

The pair of regulations stand to introduce new restrictions on remixes and other user-generated content, with Article 13 of the Directive compelling online platform providers to “take measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rights-holders for the use of their works.”

That means popular memes inspired by copyrighted images, such as the timeless “One Does Not Simply…” from Lord of the Rings, could be deleted from the web under a “Robo-copyright regime” according to campaigners.

Those demanding Article 13 be struck down say it will “destroy the internet as we know it” and lead to bots censoring and deleting online content with no understanding of the context.

It means the likes of Facebook or Twitter could simply scan a single version of an image, video or song and simply drop the block hammer on anything that somewhat duplicates that piece of media. So, the parodies that often tickle us on lunch breaks or during the morning commute could be removed too.

Executive director Kim Killock told the BBC: “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.”

There’s currently an online campaign encouraging meme fans to email, call or tweet their MEP to have the plans struck down. They Save Your Internet campaign says Article 13 also threatens gamers who live stream, blogging platforms, discussion forums and more.

Would you leave the EU to save the humble meme? Or will Britain’s draconian ways eliminate the celebrated craze anyway? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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