If you’re not on YouTube very often and don’t always have the time to read the newspapers, the whole furore regarding Article 13 may have escaped your attention.

But for many Redbox customers – and others who make or use content on their eCommerce sites or social media feeds – it could be a gamechanger.

While the hashtag being promoted by those opposing the new legislation -#SaveYourInternet  – might seem a little over the top, the premise behind the issue could have very real repercussions around the world.

Here’s all you need to know.

So what exactly is Article 13?

In a nutshell, it’s a new copyright directive voted in by the European Parliament last September that is designed to update copyright laws for the internet age. You can read it here

Two articles – Article 11 and Article 13 – are the most contentious part of the legislation entitled The European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

Its main purpose is to limit how copyrighted content is shared online. Article 11 aims to make anyone who uses snippets of journalistic online content to pay for a licence beforehand.  Article 13 would force internet platforms that host huge amounts of user-uploaded content to monitor and filter the content to prevent copyright infringement.

But this all sounds like a long-awaited update, doesn’t it?

Yes and no. While many supporters such as musicians and creators claim the reforms are necessary to fairly compensate them for their work, others believe it is leading to censorship and will transform the internet as we know it.

In fact, Article 11 and Article 13 have been given the nicknames ‘link tax’ and ‘meme ban’, respectively, with opponents fearing the plans could destroy user-generated content, parodies and memes completely.

Meme ban? I don’t even like memes! I don’t think this is going to affect how I use the internet!

Maybe, maybe not. Article 13 aims to place more responsibility on websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to ensure copyrighted material isn’t being illegally shared on their platforms.

Today, claims on copyright lie with the company or artists who produce the content and it has been up to them to enforce it. Article 13 means online platforms would have to filter or take down copyrighted material from websites.

It’s likely to impact the normal routine of many web and social media users.

Internet platforms would need to employ upload filters that are likely to filter legitimate content, while also leading to censorship and regular legal rows.

Individuals or businesses could risk being banned from sites such as Facebook and YouTube for posting or sharing content these sites deem copyrighted, or for using meme-based adverts for instance.

However, there is much more to this, including the effect on small businesses and start-ups that couldn’t use such complex filters and the mass surveillance that would come with every piece of content being scrutinised and logged in such detail.

So who is supporting Article 13?

Plenty of big hitters in the music industry have backed the reforms, including former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney. In a letter to Members of the European Parliament he said: “Music and culture matter. They are our heart and soul.

“…today some User Upload Content platforms refuse to compensate artists and all music creators fairly for their work, while they exploit it for their own profit.The value gap is that gulf between the value these platforms derive from music and the value they pay creators. The proposed Copyright Directive and its Article 13 would address the value gap and help assure a sustainable future for the music ecosystem and its creators…”

And in the ‘against’ corner?

A host of leading tech figures put together a letter warning of the dangers of Article 13. Among the signatories was Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. The letter said that the legislation: “takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”

OK, so what now?

Opposition against the articles seem to be growing. In fact, even music rights companies that were behind the move, have come out to say the Directive does “not meet the original objective.”

Last Friday (Jan 18), the EU Parliament and Council were due to agree on the final draft of the Directive. However, 11 countries voted against a compromise position, many raising concerns over Article 13. The Directive’s scheduled-approval meeting was therefore cancelled.

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web

What does all this mean for Redbox customers?

With the British Government concerned with Brexit, the new regulations may not even affect websites in Britain when it leaves the EU. The same applies for websites and social media accounts run across the majority of the world.

But, for those in the EU, it could really hamper how businesses use content and engage with other customers. Sharing posts or creating content to help with engagement could easily become a thing of the past as companies become wary over what is owned by who.

At the same time, it could lead to different laws for different parts of the world, which would also see huge changes in the way content is used and shared from country to country. Or, it may lead to companies having to put new structures in place to ensure adherence – much in the way they did with GDPR.

However, the truth is, no one really knows what it means. With the approval meeting cancelled, German MEP Julia Reda believes it becomes difficult to get the Directive, as it is now, through before the European elections in May.

On her blog she added: “The Romanian Council presidency will have the chance to come up with a new text to try to find a qualified majority, but with opposition mounting on both sides of the debate, this is going to be a difficult task indeed.”

The world awaits what happens next….

Follow this linkto discover ways to support the movement against the Directive.