What is Article 13 and why do YouTubers hate it?

15 January 2019, 14:24 | Updated: 15 January 2019, 16:43

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Picture: Unsplash
Benedict Townsend

By Benedict Townsend

The situation that many YouTubers warned about has just happened

You may have heard a lot of people online talking about Article 13

The European Union has voted in favour of a new series of laws that will dramatically affect online content.

The Copyright Directive is designed to help protect creators of all kinds and to give them more control over how their content is used and shared, particularly online. But there are two Articles within the directive - Articles 11 and 13, which have been widely criticised by YouTubers and and even YouTube itself.

The Directive was passed with 438 votes in favour, 226 against and 39 abstentions.

What is Article 11?

It has been dubbed a 'link tax' by critics because it adds a barrier into the free flow of news and information. This will affect publishers and platforms more than individual creators.

What is Article 13?

Article 13 will more directly affect online creators and YouTubers.

Under Article 13, platforms like YouTube will be held directly responsible when someone violates copyright on their platform. This means that any copyright violation that is committed by users is then held as the fault of the company.

When you consider how much copyrighted material is uploaded to YouTube and Twitter, this will be devastating for YouTube... meaning YouTube will have to clamp the hell down on all copyrighted uploads, or face massive fines.

Why do people not like Article 13?

The prospect of YouTube and Twitter doing massive copyright sweeps in order to avoid being fined presents a dire prospect for creators, who will find their resources very much cut down. Right now you can post a meme'd image on Twitter, but if there is a copyright claim on the original image, that meme will be taken down instantly.

YouTubers tried to rally people to protest the directive ahead of the initial vote

Is this the end of the road?

Not quite yet.

Here's the current timeline of how things are currently planned to go:

January 18 — National governments vote on the Council’s position before the final negotiations.

January 21 — Parliament and Council negotiate and try to finalise the text of the bill.

March/April — Final vote by the Council.

Sometime between March and April — Final vote in the European Parliament.

How are nations likely to vote?

Nations are pretty divided on Article 13, but most experts expect it to pass anyway.

Italy has promised to vote against the bill. Germany has also said it will vote against, unless small businesses are excluded. Every single Polish MEP (Member of The European Parliament) of the governing party voted against it, and yet Poland officially supports the bill.

But then again, these are just words, we'll see have to wait and see how everyone actually votes when the chips are down.

One sliver of hope is that once the Bill passes, individual EU countries then get to decide exactly how they want to implement it, meaning different countries may experience different levels of fallout from this.