Law threatens web

A year ago, net neutrality was everywhere in the news, as the Federal Communications Commission pushed to roll back Title II—a law which prohibits Internet Service Providers from regulating how consumers use the internet. Most consumers felt this change from the FCC would negatively impact how Americans accessed and used the internet.

Now, Europeans are faced with a similar dilemma—Article 13. While this law will only pass in Europe, Article 13 will change the way everyone uses the internet, regardless of location. The main objective of Article 13 is to help creators online by enforcing more effective copyright laws. Many approve of this primary objective, however some feel Article 13 borders on censorship.

The biggest problem people have with the law is how it enforces copyright. Right now, if someone on YouTube infringes on copyright laws, the individual user will be punished. With Article 13, the platforms themselves will be punished for users committing copyright infringement. Because of this, popular websites, like YouTube and Twitch, have said they will heavily restrict users in Europe which generates massive problems for creators and their audiences.

In the past, copyright infringement is scanned for after a video is uploaded or once a live stream has ended. If websites are to avoid punishments in Europe, the platforms must ensure users own the rights to publish before a video is uploaded or a livestream begins. This means content focused on commentary, criticism, parodies and reactions will be ruled out of Europe. If you do not own it, you will not be able to use it with Article 13. While YouTubers and Twitch streamers in Europe will take the brunt of Article 13, everyone around the world will still suffer the consequences.

YouTubers who reside outside of Europe will still be able to publish content without being restricted by Article 13, however European audience members will be restricted. Content creators whose audience is primarily made up of European’s will see viewership numbers drastically decrease.

Right now, Article 13 is not in place. The Copyright Directive text is under negotiation between the European Parliament and the Council. Once this concludes, the final text will be put up for a plenary vote from all members of the European Parliament. This final vote will most likely take place sometime between March or April. If the vote passes, so will Article 13.

At the root, Article 13 is needed for content creators. Copyright infringement runs rampant in many different areas across the internet without heavy consequences. However, the way in which Article 13 will enforce its policies could cause more harm than good. While the text is being negotiated, change in the favor of content creators and their audiences is still possible. Even if you are not from Europe, it is important you understand how Article 13 works and how it might impact the way in which you use the internet. Already, there are many different petitions online asking for Article 13 to be reworked. If you disagree with Article 13, it is important to act on it.