The controversial bill, the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, was protested around the world, with websites sending up an alarm over one portion of the proposed law, Article 13.
Article 13 would require users to gain permission of copyright holders, likely through licensing, to upload anything that was copyrighted onto the internet. If they did not have permission, the website would have to block the content. This might seem like a good thing, and was argued by Paul McCartney and 1,300 other musicians that is would protect people from having their work stolen and uploaded illegally. Critics have argued that this law would be so strict it would prevent anyone on sites like YouTube from playing cover songs – which is how the Beatles got their start.
People argued that the article would also stifle fan creations – like fanart and fanfiction – because the law applies to not only music, but all audio, video, and text uploaded onto the internet. Including memes.
While the idea of protecting copyright is noble, to have everything uploaded onto the internet by a human being is literally impossible. The BBC notes that 400 hours of content are uploaded onto YouTube every 60 seconds. Because of this, YouTube has an automatic system that flags and demonetizes videos that thought to be in violation of copyright. Things as innocuous as birds chirping in the background of videos have flagged copyright claims, so to have such a policy not only beefed up, but spread across the entire internet, it is argued, would be detrimental.
In voting this bill down, EU policy-makers have given themselves more time to review and rework these proposed laws, as another vote will happen in September.