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The Infamous Article 13

March 27, 2019

If you’re somewhat interested in digital media, you’ve probably heard about Article 13. If you haven’t, it’s time to lend an ear. So, let’s discuss what Article 13 is all about and why it was passed by EU parliament.

Modernised law or censorship?

Article 17 is a component of the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market and is all about copyright and how to protect it in a media landscape that is unrecognizable compared to 20 years ago. Modern technologies have changed and the law needs to keep up. Why all of a sudden mention Article 17? Because the number has recently changed, but the subject remains the same. It aims to curb the amount of copyrighted material shared on social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. According to the article, this monitoring and deleting process should be managed by the social media platforms themselves.

However, many are worried that the law would bring a form of censorship by restricting the freedom of expression and creativity. The article seems to encourage social media platforms to use automated technologies or bots to remove copyrighted content. Unless they can show that they have official rights. This means that huge amounts of content might just be deleted without the users having any say in it. Article 17 has also been dubbed the ‘meme-ban’. This is because many people are concerned about whether or not these automated tools will see memes as parodies (which is legal) or as copyrighted content and therefore deletes them.


For a long time before the vote, there was strong criticism. Not only from memelovers or the instafamous, but also from major online media platforms such as YouTube. A huge campaign called #SaveYourInternet was launched. The goal of this campaign was to encourage people to contact their local government to vote against Article 17. It seems however, parliament chose to go through with this proposal anyway as it was passed on the 26th of March.

Now what?

Member states of the European Union will now have 2 years to integrate a version of the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market into their local laws. A lot will depend on how strict the automated bot that needs to enforce the new law will work. Will it be enough to delete content that is certainly copyrighted? Or are digital media platforms expected to truly delete any content that ‘might’ be copyrighted? How will violations be punished?

In short; there’s still a lot of practical details and guidelines that need to be worked out. It will take a while to do this. So for now we’ll just have to wait and see. Let’s all cross our fingers and hope that we can find a perfect balance between protecting original creators and having the freedom to share damn funny content.

Elise De Bock Elise De Bock
Content Developer

Social media, Online Marketing