Article 13: What is it?

3 minute read

Article 13

If you’ve been lurking around the internet recently, you may have seen a lot of drama about this “Article 13” in the EU going around. Since most of the other sites are political action groups that want your money, and many others do a garbage job of explaining this, I’ll try to explain this as briefly and simply as possible.

What is it?

This whole deal is Article 13 of Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on copyright in the Digital Single Market. Essentially, it proposes to the governments of the EU that they should require sites to host bots that check all work uploaded against a database of copyrighted materials.

This would be a requirement for all sites accessible within these countries, like GDPR. Unlike GDPR, this is not in the best interest of users, but rather large corporations with vast amounts of copyright material.

Why is this bad?

Almost the entirety of the internet thrives on a law called Fair Use. This is the rule that says you can reuse copyrighted material in parodies, research sites like Wikipedia (if attributed properly) and adaptations such as memes.

With this law, all of these things that make up internet culture today (think Pepsi man, Tide pods, etc.) will cease to exist since the copyright bots will strike.

This already exists at some scale with YouTube, which has a neural network identify copyrighted works such as TV shows and music. We’ve seen how that works out- frequent errors in judgement with long response times from a company whose business thrives on having content. Imagine how much worse the situation would be if the government ran it, having little-to-no incentive to work to allow incorrectly flagged content.

How does this affect me?

Currently, this proposal exists only within the European Union. That’s all it is, and all it ever will be, even if it passes. This is simply a suggestion, with all the foundations of a law, for the governments residing in the EU. None are required to follow it, but all are encouraged to. Surely, one government will eventually adopt it to “protect their content creators,” and through the effect of globalization it will slowly spread.

Like GDPR, all sites that wish to be accessible within the enforcing countries will need to comply with this requirement, obtaining a license from the private software company that is making the copyright ID software.

This will affects our ‘Muricans in the United States too, since many sites we use on a daily basis are accessible worldwide. Reddit, YouTube (who already complies to an extent), other Google services, and really any mainstream service we have today will need to comply with this law. And, knowing the current FCC, the US may actually adopt this as law too since it has a positive effect on business here.

What can I do to stop this?

If you live in the EU, contact your MEP. saveyourinternet.eu has a great tool for finding and contacting your MEP, and has a few prewritten scripts and talking points for them. Phone calls are generally the most effective method, since you know they actually answer them.

If you don’t, but run a website/subreddit/etc. you can help spread awareness.

  • Blogs: Create a blogpost about this, or link here to tell people what’s going on.
  • Subreddits: We have a couple options for subreddits.
    • Add an AutoModerator rule. This addition to AutoModerator configuration will remove all posts and leave a comment explaining Article 13 and how to take action.
    • Make a sticky. Here is a template sticky for your subreddit. Feel free to modify it as you want and sticky it at the top of your subreddit.
    • Change your CSS. I haven’t spoken to any CSS gurus about this, but changing the CSS of your subreddit will have a massive impact. If you have one on your staff, please have them contact me, /u/jackson1442 and I’ll link it here.
    • Stay tuned in the Reddit Mods Discord. We are planning to organize a day of action, where the AutoMod config all comes together at the same time. This has proven to have a more profound impact on users of reddit, and will result in more people taking action.
  • Other websites: Talk to your viewers! Find some way to spread the word about this, because knowledge and awareness are the most important things we can have to stop this. Every little bit helps.

Here’s some sources with more reading: