Wednesday

30th Nov 2022

'Meme ban' still on table in EU copyright bill, says MEP

  • Protesters campaigning against article 13 of the proposed new EU copyright directive. They fear it could lead to online platforms filtering what they upload (Photo: epicenter .works)

A centre-left British MEP involved in the EU institutional negotiations over a reformed copyright bill said on Monday (21 January) that the text as it stands could still lead to a ban on memes.

Memes are creative expressions - for example text, photo or video - that are often used as online jokes, and are popular among younger generations.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Since the reformed EU rules on copyright were proposed in September 2016, one of the biggest fears from the internet community was that the wording of the bill could effectively lead to a ban on memes.

The proposal's article 13 could require online platforms like Google or Facebook to police copyrighted material, with fears of them having to install so-called upload filters.

"There's great truth to that argument, that we could be banning memes," Catherine Stihler told fellow MEPs on Monday.

Stihler informed her colleagues at the parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection (Imco) committee about negotiations with the EU's national governments.

Those talks are led on behalf of the EU parliament by centre-right German Axel Voss, with Stihler following the talks for the Imco committee.

National governments are currently represented by Romania, which holds the six-month EU presidency.

The last negotiating round was scheduled for Monday evening, but cancelled after Romania reportedly was unable to get a majority of member states behind a new negotiating mandate.

A spokesman for the European Commission, which also attends the talks, confirmed on Monday the meeting had been cancelled.

"We take note that the council needs more time to finalise its position," said the spokesman, referring to the EU institution where national governments meet.

There were already four rounds of political talks last year, with Austria at the helm of the EU presidency.

Stihler, a Labour MEP, said her committee had not been properly consulted.

"I have never seen a negotiation quite like this in my 20 years of being in the parliament," she said, adding that there had been little progress recently.

"The way things are going does not bode well for this to be concluded in any shape or form at the end of this mandate," said Stihler.

Elections coming

If an agreement is reached, it would still need to be approved by the plenary of the EU parliament.

Since there are European Parliament elections in May 2019, there is a possibility that there is simply not enough time to wrap up the legislative work on the copyright file.

"That may not be a bad thing," Stihler added, because of the potential meme ban.

"My kids look at that and think: how can you possibly even thinking about banning memes," she said.

The copyright debate has seen immense lobbying, from internet companies on one side and publishers on the other side.

The Romanian presidency could not immediately be reached for comment.

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

Political groups in the European Parliament are split about how to vote for a directive that would reform the EU's copyright regime - amid warnings that freedom of expression and creators' rights are at risk.

MEPs side with Fry over McCartney on copyright

The European Parliament decided to take more time studying proposed changes to the EU's copyright regime, amidst fears of 'upload filters' - and accusations of scaremongering.

Copyright: Anatomy of a controversial report

The EU parliament's text on copyright has sailed through committee, but only after a long fight by its author, including on prejudice against her political colours.

EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants

After marathon talks, EU negotiators agree on provisional copyright reform, requiring companies to filter content to prevent unauthorized work on their platform. Online platforms and open-internet advocates warn it will hurt the free flow of information.

Investigation

Asbestos — two to three times more deadly than known

Where once working men in heavy industry were diagnosed with cancers related to a more direct exposure to asbestos, now women in professions such as teaching, nursing and other occupations are being diagnosed, as well as young people.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  2. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  3. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs
  4. Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?
  5. Why the EU asbestos directive revision ... needs revising
  6. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  7. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  8. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us