Copyright killed the GIF star

By Lee Peacock, Content Executive
28/01/2019

The world of GIFs and memes might be about to change forever. Late in 2018, the EU Parliament voted in favour of a reform to copyright laws. Basically, it will push Google, Facebook and other digital giants to share their revenue with online content creators.

Article 13 has been designed to implement ‘upload filters’. Controversially, this would prevent the use of digital content, namely memes and GIFs, without permission from the intellectual owner – in a similar way to the pre-existing laws behind music usage. It would mean additional responsibility for platforms to root out material that’s been uploaded without the permission of the copyright owners. Widespread criticism has focused primarily on the eradication of online expression. Without the use of pop culture, social media platforms could quickly lose that connective feel.

Another potential shift for our world online is Article 11, also known as ‘link tax’. This would affect companies of all sizes, one of the most notable being tech giant, Google. A shift in copyright law would require publishers and aggregate websites to pay a tax to sites they link to – meaning Google would need to act like traditional media and pay to list on its search engine.

If, like me, you’re an avid GIF and meme user, you’ll be happy to hear that as of this week, both Articles 11 and 13 have been put on hold due to the European Council failing to reach a fair compromise. However, questions have now been raised regarding the intellectual rights of online content, so we’re likely to see a shift in the near future.

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