By Joe McNamee

In September 2016, the European Commission proposed legislation that would require the constant monitoring and filtering of virtually everything that is uploaded to the internet in Europe.

Under the extreme rules proposed by the Commission in the Copyright Directive, uploads to the internet would need to be scanned to assess if any photo, video or text that is being uploaded can be “identified” based on information provided by copyright holders. This would block, for example, memes that include copyrighted images or videos, parody, quotation and other perfectly harmless activities.

In order to encourage internet companies to monitor and delete information as thoroughly as possible, it is also proposed that their legal liability for uploads would be increased.

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Remarkably, the measures proposed for copyright are far in excess of what the EU has proposed as measures against terrorism in regard to regulating online content. Under the new Terrorism Directive, the EU did not consider it necessary or proportionate to propose mandatory upload filtering, new monitoring obligations or an increase in liability for internet companies. All three of these measures have been proposed to fight the apparently more serious threat of internet memes being uploaded without copyright holders’ consent.

In the last week of March, the deadline for amendments in the leading European Parliament committees, Legal Affairs (JURI) and Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), will pass. Soon afterwards, the amendments will be tabled, and we will be able to see which Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have proposed to delete or minimise the damage from Commission’s extreme proposals.

So far, there is some good news. The parliamentarian in charge of the file in the JURI Committee, Therese Comodini Cachia partly narrowed the scope of the proposals. Also, the MEP in charge of the file in the IMCO Committee, Catherine Stihler removed the worst elements. However, there is still huge support for the proposal in the Parliament, so much more work is needed to improve it.

If you want to find out how you can help, please visit https://savethememe.net and see the campaign video against the “censorship machine” here.

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EDRi: Civil society urges EU institutions to stop the “censorship machine” in the copyright proposal (13.03.2017)
https://edri.org/civil-society-urges-eu-institutions-to-stop-the-censorship-machine-in-the-copyright-proposal/

EDRi: Copyright reform: Document pool
https://edri.org/copyright-reform-document-pool/

EDRi: Copyright Directive: Lead MEP partly deletes the “censorship machine” (09.03.2017)
https://edri.org/copyright-directive-lead-mep-partly-deletes-censorship-machine/

EDRi: A positive step forward against the “censorship machine” in the Copyright Directive
https://edri.org/positive-step-forward-censorship-machine-copyright-directive/

EDRi: Recklessly unclear Terrorism Directive creates significant risks for citizens’ security (16.02.2017)
https://edri.org/recklessly-unclear-terrorism-directive-creates-significant-risks-citizens-security/

(Contribution by Joe McNamee, EDRi)

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