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Copyright
Are Curtains Soon Falling On Memes?
e all enjoy memes and
W
other jokes parcularly
w h e n t h e y c o n c e r n
policians and other high ranking members
of society. Such memes always go viral in a
maer of seconds, thanks to the borderless
nature of the internet.
The European Parliament recently
deliberated on some “controversial
arcles of the EU Copyright Direcve in the
D i g i t a l S i n g l e M a r ke t ( D i r e c v e
2001/29/EC). These were Arcles 11 which
proposes to introduce what is to be known
as “Google tax” or “link tax”. As the name
suggests, the arcle intends to compel
G o o g l e a n d o t h e r w e b s i t e s t h a t
disseminate rightsholders' content to be
liable to payment of an amount of money to
the creators of content shared by them.
This means that they will have to “obtain a
license before linking to news stories.
Arcle 13 on the other hand seeks to
see to it that Google and others, screen
content to ascertain its copyright status
before allowing a user to upload it. This
Arcle has acqui red the nick name
content-filter or “meme-ban” on the
basis that it goes against the established
fair dealing excepons to copyright.
Inially, when the European Parliament
voted, the two arcles were rejected. That
was around May/June this year. The vote
was cast again in September and tables
changed.
Thanks to pro-rightsholders' acvists
who campaigned earnestly in favor of the
two Arcles. The same Parliament will vote
for the third and final me in January 2019
in some sort of conciliatory seng, to get
both pares on the same page. Depending
on how the vote turns out, content creators
may be singing all the way to the bank.
Analysts say it is very unlikely that the vote
will signicantly change from what
happened in September.
By Faith Amaka
The following are some of the
implicaons of the proposed arcles:
Ÿ Tech Giants to share revenues with
performers, arsts, journalists etc.
- under the new arcle, content
creators are entled to some
revenue when their works are used
on shared plaorms such as Google
news, Facebook, Twier, Youtube
etc.
Ÿ Freedom of expression- merely
sharing hyperlinks to arcles, plus
individual words to describe
them will be free of copyright
restricons [as it has always been].
Ÿ Wikipedia and other open source
websites will not be affected - the
fear of the pro-excepons and
l i m i t a  o n s o f c o p y r i g h t
protagonists was that the new
arcles would be the end of the
open movement. However, this is
not the case. Legislang on such a
point would be going against the
already established internaonal
laws on limitaons and excepons
of copyright. Fair dealing/use is not
in any way under threat, therefore
memes and other parodies can sll
be created. As long as content is
no t u s e d fo r co m m e rc i a l
purposes, it would not be
affected by the new legislaon.
There are those who did not vote
for the direcve in September and it
therefore follows that there are
disagreements between the two camps.
Despite these disagreements, the
wring is on the wall. If the law receives
the nal node by the European
Parliament early next year, there will be
a huge impact on the internet. The
impact will be felt not just in Europe but
in the whole world. The onus of
interpreng the new legislaon will be
on individual naons but the die has
been cast. The once powerful dynasty of
the internet kings is now standing on
shaky ground. In the meanme, we
have to wait for the final vote next year.
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