Mar 28, 2019

Memes and GIF's exempt under new copyright directive

The European Parliament has finally voted in the new European Copyright Directive ("Directive"). The legislation, which was revised several times in its making, will be considered by member states who will now need to approve the decision.

The new Directive has not been without its controversies. In particular, Article 11 and Article 13 of the Directive have caused the most commentary. We have previously commented on Article 13 here. Article 13 is applicable to internet streaming companies, such as Google and YouTube, and will hold such companies more liable for the sharing of copyrighted material without the proper licenses.  Article 11 will force online platforms, such as Google News, to have to pay news organisations for sharing their content.

There are mixed opinions on the new Directive, which was passed by 348 Members of European Parliament.  The consensus amongst many musicians and songwriters, including Paul McCartney and Debbie Hall, is that under the new legislation they will finally be compensated for their creative efforts. Many others, however, are dubious over the changes the Directive will bring. Google has previously commented that it would "harm Europe's creative and digital industries".

A big worry, amongst those skeptical about the changes, was the way in which the Directive would affect the sharing of memes and GIFs (viral images and short videos that transmit cultural concepts and behaviors).  It was thought that Article 13 would make the sharing of memes and GIF's, which often contain copyrighted material in them, impossible. After the Directive was tweaked earlier this year however, the sharing of memes and GIF's is now safe for purposes of "parody and pastiche". How internet streaming companies will deploy the relevant technology to filter out memes and GIF's from other excluded material remains unclear.

The Directive will now be considered by member states, after which, such states will have two years to implement it.

Posted by: in: Copyright, News

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