The European Parliament has passed Article 13 and Article 11, the controversial update to Europe’s copyright law, drawing widespread condemnation from technology experts and internet users.

Article 13 shifts the onus onto platforms to remove infringements on copyright, which is currently the responsibility of the individual.

This would have to be done by automatic filtering technology, which critics argue will be unaffordable for smaller platforms.

While the European Parliament said that parodies of content, such as memes, are not the target of Article 13, many are sceptical how these filters will be able to make the distinction.

Proponents say it will help compensate creatives for their work, such as musicians and photographers.

Article 11, known as the ‘link tax’, makes search engines and news aggregate platforms pay to use links from news websites.

The Copyright Directive was backed by 348 MEPs, with 278 voting against. Article 13 will be fully implemented in 2021, if member states approve it.

Read more: What is the EU Article 13? Is it really going to ‘ruin the internet’?

Article 13 passed: Industry and expert reaction

Founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales said on Twitter that internet users “lost a huge battle today in Internet parliament”, adding that the Copyright Directive is “about empowering monopolistic practices”. Wales was one of the many signatories of an open letter to the President of the European Union warning about the potential impact of Article 13.

3 Things That Will Change the World Today

Tom Warren, senior editor at The Verge, tweeted that while “these laws have good intentions” they “will have grave consequences for the internet”.

In a statement, YouTube said that the “final version of the EU Directive is an improvement, but we remain concerned. Article 13 could still have unintended consequences that may harm Europe’s creative and digital economy.”

Meanwhile, Raffaella De Santis, associate at law firm Harbottle & Lewis, said:

“Artists and creators will hail the passing of the directive as a real victory for their right to be fairly paid for their creations. However, the effect of the text of the directive as passed could at the same time have very concerning and unintended consequences for vast swathes of online services, not simply those operating in music or news.

“This outcome is unpopular with digital services and importantly, many European voters. The key focus now will be on how the directive is implemented across the EU over the next two years, and care will need to be taken to ensure that smaller services are not disproportionately disadvantaged by measures which are in reality designed to curtail the formerly unchecked power of the tech giants.”

Simon Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN.com, warned that Article 13’s “well-intended” laws could see the online creation community “severely stifled”.

“The reality is that a generation that has been brought up on memes and video platforms like YouTube is hardly likely to take this unprecedentedly far-reaching legislation lying down. It will not come as a surprise to see millions of European web users turning to anti-censorship tools like VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) in a bid to retain their internet freedoms,” he said.

However, Frances Moore, CEO of The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry – which represents the interests of the recording industry worldwide – welcomed the passing of the Copyright Directive.

“We thank lawmakers for their efforts in navigating a complex environment to pass a Directive with noteworthy implications for the content community. This world-first legislation confirms that User-Upload Content platforms perform an act of communication to the public and must either seek authorisation from rightsholders or ensure no unauthorised content is available on their platforms.

“The Directive also includes a ‘stay down’ provision requiring platforms to keep unlicensed content down – another global first.”

Article 13 passed: The response on Twitter

Twitter users reacted with a mixture of anger and humour. Unsurprisingly, many of the responses to the ‘meme ban’ were… memes.

Some described it as the ‘death of the internet’:

Others urged caution:

Many also voiced their frustration that the law had been passed by an older generation, with long-term consequences for younger people.


Read more: European Parliament approves Copyright Directive meme law, so when does Article 13 start?