In September 2018, the EU voted in favour of passing Article 13. Article 13 is a controversial directive, which relates to copyright laws. The vote will undoubtedly influence the way businesses and consumers in the European Union use the Internet. If you’re unfamiliar with Article 13, or you’re unsure how it will impact you or the company you work for or manage, here’s everything you need to know about Article 13.
What Exactly is Article 13?
Article 13 is part of a broader copyright directive, which was designed to modernise copyright laws in line with the rise of digital platforms and the growing popularity of the Internet. It was thought that existing measures were no longer relevant to modern society in light of technological advances, and Article 13 was proposed as part of a plan to make laws more applicable to the 21st century.
The European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market was introduced to update laws and guidelines for the digital era, but it has proven to be a controversial directive. Having previously been rebuffed, a second vote revealed a margin of 438 votes in favour to 226 votes against.
In the most basic terms, Article 13 places more responsibility on sites that post and share content, for example, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. These sites are now required to assume responsibility for making sure that the content they publish does not breach copyright regulations. In the past, this mantle fell to the people or companies in charge of producing, sharing or creating the content.
The Impact of Article 13
Article 13 focuses on platforms that publish digital content, and essentially shifts responsibility from the content creator and the individual, organisation or business that shares the content to the platform itself. The aim is to ensure that copyrighted materials are not shared on sites like Google, YouTube, and Facebook without the required licenses and permissions.
While this might be good news for people and organisations that own content, for example, authors, there is a huge amount of concern about the impact on smaller content creators and also on the platforms that share and promote content and make it accessible to a wider audience. Here are some of the most significant problems with Article 13:
In essence, Article 13 may not appear such a negative concept. Many would agree that more needs to be done to protect and enforce copyright in the digital world. However, people are worried that the new directive, particularly Article 13, will stifle creativity and dilute the range and diversity of content available on the web.
Article 13 has been labelled ‘the meme ban’ by some because it is uncertain whether or not memes will be banned, as they are often derived from copyright materials, most commonly images.
YouTube is expected to be impacted more significantly than other sites, and chief product officer, Neal Mohan, said that the ruling was “disappointing.” YouTube is worried that the directive will not only contribute to a dilution of content, but also that non-copyright materials and digital products will be blocked accidentally.
YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, published an article following the September vote, in which she wrote, “Article 13 as written threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people – from creators like you to everyday users – to upload content to platforms like YouTube.” She also raised questions about the loss of creative jobs as a result of the new directive.
Another concern is that smaller businesses and sites won’t be able to afford the kind of filtering software that will be used by larger sites like Google and Facebook. This will either result in them narrowing down the range of content they share significantly, or involve then working with an element of risk of non-compliance.
There’s also a worry that small businesses will not be able to cope with the added burden of having to vet content, and that they won’t be able to adapt to changes as quickly as the EU requires. Startups working on a tight budget are simply not equipped to deal with the modifications, and this is likely to pose another problem at a time when it’s already incredibly difficult for new businesses to survive and thrive.
Article 13 urges sites to implement content blocking systems and technologies to filter copyrighted materials, but research suggests that there is a lack of effective technology in this area. Industry experts have warned that content blocking technology is unreliable and sometimes, this results in legal content being filtered out.
How Will Article 13 Affect Digital Marketing?
There are two key elements of the EU directive, which are of particular interest to digital marketers and businesses that employ or are looking to invest in modern marketing strategies: Article 11 and Article 13
The truth of the matter is that at the moment, there’s no need to panic and start worrying about removing every link or scrutinising every single piece of content you publish. There is still a great deal of uncertainty about how digital marketing will be affected, for example, how the rule will apply to memes and whether long tail phrases with links will be taxed.
Brexit may also play a role. If the UK does leave the EU, it is not known whether legislation will impact content creators, marketers, businesses, and site owners based in the UK. As more information about the directive becomes available, and more discussions take place, it will become clearer just how Article 13 will affect digital marketing in the future.
Although the directive aims to modernise copyrighting laws to cater for the digital era, there has been a great deal of objection to the vote, and many site owners aren’t happy with the new guidelines. For now, there seems to be a lack of clarity, but discussions are ongoing, and site owners and marketers may still have a glimmer of hope that a more attractive compromise can be reached.
If you haven’t done so already then head over to Change.org and join over 3,500,000 people who have voted against Article 13