“severe blow to the free and open internet.” She stated that by “endorsing new legal and technical limits on what we can post and share online, the European Parliament is putting corporate profits over freedom of speech and abandoning long-standing principles that made the internet what it is today.”
The Directive’s goal is to change the balance of power in the internet – weakening the positions of platforms such as Google which aggregate information and news without paying for it, while also strengthening the position of European publishers and their content generators. “Huge American platforms make money whilst our creatives die out,” said Voss. Politically speaking, it was probably better for Voss to speak about creatives and artistic types than the publishers that employ them.
Article 11 follows on the attempts of Germany and Spain to have a “link tax” which gives publishers the right to licensing fee if a platform uses their content. Again, Parliament has stressed that this concept of a “link tax” is not quite right – platforms will still be able to freely use the hyperlink and their own produced copy – they just can’t draw text from the article as is done now.
The new Directive will likely not impact the ability of individuals to create their own variants of copyrighted materials such as memes, but it certainly could influence how or if these memes can be shared. In an interesting bit of Orwellian doublespeak, Parliament has said that memes will remain covered by a copyright exemption, but that the platforms will be held more responsible for filtering posted content. This seems to imply that people will still be able to create all the funny memes they want – they just might not be able to share them via an internet platform.
Exactly how all of this will work in practice remains unseen. However, what is clear is that a disruptive change is coming, the position of the largely American platforms such as Google and Facebook is being challenged, and that this change will go far beyond the borders of the European.