The EU Commission has responded to Twitter users concerned that new copyright rules meaning the end of ‘memes’ on the internet – by using a meme.
The Commission’s Twitter account began sporadically responding to tweets about ‘Article 13’, a controversial new addition to the EU Copyright Directive which will make it harder to share content which includes copyrighted material.
The updates to the Directive, the first since 2001, will mean that content-sharing channels such as Twitter and Reddit have more responsibility to stop users from uploading copyrighted material.
This is particularly threatening to memes and ‘reaction gifs’ which typically use images and video taken directly from copyrighted films and television shows.
The Twitter account for the EU Comission used a well-known and copyrighted image of Patrick Stewart in the role of Star Trek’s Captain Jean Luc-Piccard to reply to the tweets.
— European Commission ???? (@EU_Commission) June 22, 2018
Critics of the new measures include World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales.
In total, 70 technology leaders have signed an open letter addressed to the President of the European Parliament which urges him to oppose the measures.
“The damage that this may do to the free and open Internet as we know it is hard to predict, but in our opinions could be substantial,” said the letter.
Twitter users have been quick to criticise the Commission’s use of memes, with one user pointing out that the Commission itself might be in breach of the new rules.
Because you (parliament) put it in a new directive #article13. Which requires people to filter for copyrighted content. And that picture of Jean Luc Picard is copyrighted, though its use might be fair use. Except nobody knows until after the lawsuit, so platforms will block it!
— Rudolf van der Berg (@internetthought) June 22, 2018