Over the course of the next few paragraphs, I’m going to discuss Article 13, YouTube, Modding and the Death of the Internet as we know it….However, first I want to just say a big “Thank You” to all my readers and friends who read my articles (even though I may not always post on a consistent basis). Life has been busy and it’s kept me from writing.
I’ve been working on this article for a few days as I wanted to try to understand the issues behind this proposed legislation and also understand what the impacts potentially are. While I’ll be the first to admit that we do have issues with copyright and intellectual property theft on a large scale and I certainly believe more should be done to control, limit and outright prosecute those who violate these laws…I feel Article 13 is far too overreaching.
Trust me when I say that I still know very little about all the fine details regarding this possible piece of EU Legislation which is being planned, discussed and has a very strong possibility of becoming actual law. But before we get too deep into the weeds here, allow me to first attempt to explain exactly what Article 13 is and how it could unravel YouTube, our favorite video game modding community and essentially cause the death of the Internet as we know it.
What is Article 13?
Article 13 is simply a shortcut term to describe a much larger piece of European Union (EU) legislation titled Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (or EU Copyright Directive for short). Primarily the largest impact to us fall into the individual articles being Article 11 (link tax), Article 13 (meme ban) and Article 13b (copyright-protected visual works). Again, most of the discussions taking place on the interwebz just lump everything in this harmful legislation into the single name of Article 13.
How exactly will Article 13 impact us?
From what I understand after watching several videos (some produced by YouTube), reading text of articles written by Google, Reddit and other sources is Article 13 will force an over-cautious approach to how social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Google, Reddit, Twitter, WordPress etc. will be able to provide content to individuals residing within the 28 member state of the European Union. Allow me to further break down the lengthy subject line I used to title this piece.
Impact to YouTube
The impact of Article 13 to both YouTube and many other online content sharing services can be summarized in the following clause which reads as follows:
“Online content sharing service providers and right holders shall cooperate in good faith in order to ensure that unauthorized protected works or other subject matter are not available on their services.”
This “good faith” effort could force YouTube to essentially block a large portion of content to the EU and also prevent any content creators residing in the EU from uploading to the platform. After all, the Article 13 legislation will make YouTube (and others) responsible for the copyright material that appears on these services.
While YouTube and other online services currently have systems in place to assist with detecting certain copyright material, these systems are not perfect and do from time to time place blocks on non-copyright material and allow other copyrighted material to slip through. As this new legislation will make YouTube responsible, the end result might just be a complete block of certain content to these EU nations.
Impact to Modding
For very much the same reason I mentioned above, the impact to our favorite video game modding communities could also be severely impacted. The modding communities for many of my favorite simulation based games are the heart and very soul of the overall gaming community for these titles. They are the reason these gaming titles stay relevant for so long and allow us as gamers to spend hundreds and thousands of hours enjoying the game. As a few of my favorite simulation based games are actually developed within the EU, these developers might be forced to lock down the use of mods within the game.
Death of the Internet As We Known It
There’s a lot more to the Article 13 legislation than just how it can impact the gaming piece of it. As an example, there is a component within the legislation (Article 12a) which proposes granting sports event organizers copyright over recordings of their events. While in principle this might sound like a good idea to prevent the unauthorized re-broadcast of sporting events. It could have an impact on (as an example) on any media captured at a sporting event even including pictures and videos taken of the crowd.
But of course, social media is a big thing in the 21st Century and as companies like YouTube, Twitch, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, WordPress etc. distribute a variety of the impacted content I’ve been talking about, the very face of the internet could be changed forever.
I’m generally the “Less is More” type when it comes to government legislation. It seems like every time we turn around we seem to be confronted with more and more rules impacting many of the freedoms we’ve enjoyed for a long time. I need to be careful as I tip-toe here as I could easily find myself climbing on my political soapbox and I have always tried to keep politics out of my blogging and YouTube content.
Of course, I don’t live in the EU. But that really doesn’t matter. If the Article 13 legislation becomes reality we could see it rolled out on a larger scale. But as I pointed out, anyone who typically reads my content here and has an interest in some of the same simulation based games could certainly see an impact regardless where I live.
Finally, for me it’s not about the impact I might experience in my YouTube content creation. While I make a few dollars a year via advertising revenue on YouTube, this is not and never will be my full-time job. But there are others who have been able to transition to full-time content creators as a result of monetizing their content. Regardless of where these individuals live, I can see Article 13 impacting their ability to continue.
What can we do?
There is a Change.org petition which currently has over 3.6 million supporters. I have signed this petition and I encourage each and every one of my readers to do the same. It took me all of about 30 seconds to sign and join my fellow supporters who are against this legislation. Please consider visiting the Change.Org website and signing the petition. The very internet you save, might just be your very own.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I encourage you to also conduct your own research into Article 13.