Will Article 13 actually provide creatives with the remuneration they deserve?
Article 13 has created mixed feelings. Its purpose is noble but its deliverance is bullheaded, and Silicon Valley will be quivering in its boots. Moving forward, this legislation could mean massive pay cuts for tech industries as the EU becomes a virtual no-go zone for borrowed artistic creation. That has two major issues for tech companies: 1) they will have to come up with a way to censor posts on their pages and 2) less viewership means less users, which ultimately means less revenue.
If this legislation passes through, it will mean streaming and content platforms (like Youtube) will be held accountable for users’ use of copyrighted work on their channels. It forces platforms to self-police. But the legislation currently drafted leaves a lot to the imagination; it is loosely worded, claiming there needs to be “adequate reporting” done by platforms and “appropriate and proportionate” measures taken. What does that mean?
Will Facebook be blocking the use of my Willy Wonka meme? Will YouTube block a video if there is a fraction of a copyrighted song? If they hum Yellow Submarine? Will a vlogger be censored for having an S-Club 7 poster in their room? Will Ultimate-Guitar, a platform for writing out guitar tablature, be banned for copyright infringement? Just how strictly are we going to be policed? Creatives need space to breathe and tight legislation like this restricts their oxygen.
It also means companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Pinterest (to name but a few) are going to have to cough up more money. Big companies don’t like doing that. They will be forced into creating self-censoring departments. Imagine paying for a department that reduces the amount of money your company makes. What does that mean? Less profit. Less profit means that the content creator’s coin purse is going to be a little lighter. Again, poorly thought out; and once again it’s the artist that’s in the firing line. Whilst Article 13 in it's most literal sense stands to ensure that content creators and artists receive the remuneration they deserve, it is not as simple as that.
It is clearly not the objective to turn platforms into an inordinately monitored space; but in the same breath, to assume organisations will not abuse the situation, and to assume platforms will continue to pay their creators the same (following massive cuts in the last few years) is naïve. Content creators will be the ones who suffer in this situation. It’s fantastic that copyright laws on the internet are being looked into by government – but they fundamentally misunderstand the internet if they think that Article 13, as it stands, is good legislation for artists.
A more nuanced approach could make these legal parameters greatly beneficial. And although we stand by the EU’s attempt to help creatives everywhere, we want to #savetheinternet. But saving the internet should come from good legislation that protects and directly benefits content creators and artists.
For now we don’t what will happen and how the bill will be amended. What we do know, however, is that Brexiteer content creators the world over will have something to talk about for years to come.