Posted on June 27, 2018 by staff

Fears over the end of memes ‘exaggerated’ says legal expert


A new regulation, soon to be introduced in the UK, has left some internet users in fear that it could mean the end of memes and gifs.

Critics fear that memes, which often use screenshots or clips from copyrighted material, will no longer be allowed on content-sharing platforms.

The new section, Article 13, is part of the reformed EU Copyright Directive, and requires that platforms to do more to avoid copyright infringement.

The new rules have garnered critics including World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales.

But Ron Moscona, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney in London, believes that these fears are unfounded.

“It is naïve to suggest that just because the law requires platforms to take measure against unlawful materials, the internet will cease to be an open forum,” Moscona told BusinessCloud.

“If it turns out (as campaigners seem to fear) that some platform operators are going to be clumsy in dealing with suspected infringements and that they would block out a great deal of legitimate content posted by their users, competition should drive forward other platforms.”

The legal expert points out that platforms such as Twitter and Reddit already have to take steps to remove infringing content from their services when asked to do so.

Article 13 requires the platforms to be more pro-active in taking these infringements down, which campaigners fear will lead platforms to take a heavy-handed approach.

“This seems to be an exaggerated concern,” explains Moscona. “It should not be impossible to handle unlawful materials without throwing the baby with the washing water.

“In the UK, the law already allows for copyrighted content to be used provided it is a ‘caricature, parody or pastiche’ – which many of the internet’s most prolific memes could fall under.

“Campaigners are concerned that online giants will overreact to the statutory requirement by aggressively censoring the internet and removing legitimate content from their platforms.

“Tech giants have all the technology they need and ample resources to deal with the issue of infringing content in a nuanced and responsible way without wielding a sledgehammer.”