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The EU : taking your digital freedom

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The EU : taking your digital freedom

Angus Nordlund, Staff Writer

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In the U.S., people have the freedom to create and post things on websites such as Youtube, Tumblr, Reddit, and 4chan, using popular games, movies, and songs to be the basis of their content.

However, recently proposed directives in the EU (European Union) have prevented that from being possible for most of Europe, therefore denying many people digital freedom. The new directives are called Article 13 and Article 11, or as many others call it, “the meme ban,” and the “link tax,” respectively.

Article 13 requires online platforms to filter or just remove copyright material from their websites, while Article 11 gives publishers the right to request paid licenses when their material is shared among other platforms. Though this may seem good to many since it prevents their material from being stolen as well as gives them credit for it, there are obvious flaws and loopholes in these articles–meaning it should be amended– in order to benefit all. 

Initially, when the Articles were revealed to have been passed, there was a substantial amount of outrage, and rightfully so. Since it stated in Article 11, that people can request money from people who share their content, it likely means that people who are simply sharing it with a friend, while doing no harm could potentially be punished for it.

There is also the concern of how big corporations who profit off of sharing could react to this.

Critics have even pointed out that in 2014, a similar law was passed in Spain which, “forced publishers to charge news aggregators for sharing snippets.”

Google soon responded afterward by dropping their website Google News, which led to the traffic to websites falling by 15%, which was a significant problem. So much so that the Spanish government got repealed the law. This also happened in Germany in 2013 (https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/13/17854158/eu-copyright-directive-article-13-11-inte rnet-censorship-google).

What this shows is that the law in the EU might have the same effects on the internet, leading to even more outrage, which, considering the circumstances, could be disastrous. 

As for Article 13, that’s where many people are dissatisfied. Article 13 has been dubbed by many Americans as the meme ban, but to the creators, it’s called the upload filter. It requires website owners to scan all the content, which is posted by users of the website, and clear away any material that is subject to copyright. If they do not do so, they themselves are liable for the infringement committed by users.

Though it may seem that this is again just a harmless law meant to protect other’s material, it has an evident loophole. For one, it is unfair that the website be punished for a crime they did not commit and second this loophole could lead to internet trolls abusing the law in order to get certain websites punished. This affects memes and “memers” alike by making it impossible to make memes out of certain material since that material could possibly be copyrighted. Since this is the way many people express themselves this is a way of denying people their freedom of speech. 

It makes sense for the EU to want to make sure people aren’t stealing or inappropriately using other’s work, but what they don’t realize is that the sharing and spreading of people’s work can bring popularity to it and give the creators the fame and recognition they deserve. 

A solution to this law is to set clear boundaries between those who mean no harm by posting content, and those who have malicious intent. The way it is set right now means that anyone is at fault even though that is not the case. If edits were made then this law could be praised by many and could have major implications on how digital security is. But for the moment it has become a 

The EU should take a step back and reconsider the law as it infringes on people’s rights to post certain things which in a way denying them free speech. Changes must be made in order to benefit everyone. 

About the Writer
Angus Nordlund, Staff Writer

My name is Angus Nordlund, and I am a writer for the Arrow.

I am a avid soccer player and cross country runner as well as a gaming enthusiast.

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