Article 13: Europe’s Censorship Machine

The Internet’s modern day purpose is to distribute information, thoughts and ideas. Whether we use it to inform, persuade or entertain, the Internet has managed to connect the world in ways we never thought imaginable before.

This vision of the Internet as a force for good, however, is in serious peril in the European Union. Parliament recently pushed a new article, known as Article 13, that changes the directive on copyright. If this is completely implemented, nations like Germany, France, Italy and even Spain will have less freedom of  information, speech and the spread of ideas. Without these factors, the Internet dies without a voice to fight against the article.

For context, according to Wired, the EU Directive on Copyright are the ones responsible for pushing two articles, which may jeopardize free speech for many in Europe. These two articles are Article 11 and Article 13, which are both very similar in the idea of enforcing online companies, like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, to start taking more responsibility on copyrighted material being shared illegally on their respective platforms. However, Article 13 gets most of the controversy as criticizers say it’s the most dangerous to online content creators on multiple platforms.

According to the European Council, 28 members, one for each country, voted on the article’s passing. Six countries voted against the passing of the article, including The Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and a collective few others. Three countries, Belgium, Estonia and Slovenia, abstained from the vote, leaving the remaining 19 to go for the article.

But what concrete evidence do we have for it’s criticism? According to CNET, YouTube already has a software that prohibits illegal copyright usage called Content ID. While Content ID may not be entirely perfect, it shows enough stability and balance with copyrighted material on YouTube.

YouTube at times also tends to copyright free usage videos, and if this article is placed, it will not only take away the idea of free use, but eliminate almost all shared content outside of its main sources. YouTube is not the only one at risk, as other platforms will also have mass amounts of their content wiped out if not used correctly, or if even used at all.

Disallowing the use of content only gains more publicity and revenue for major companies, as they will put far more restrictions towards the content they place online. In short, this article benefits big businesses by putting more copyright restrictions on their content, thus giving users only one way to view it, through them, allowing for more revenue for these companies. Having this also disallows creators to express innovated content and information online, adding less ideas and overall filtering diversity on many platforms.

In order to stop this from getting through, according to Save Your Internet, the main goal is to contact the Members of European Parliament (MEPs) and protest against their choices. For example, if someone from Ireland wishes to vote against Article 11 and Article 13, they must contact the MEP that represents Ireland and voice their displeasure with their vote.

Even so, the EU’s vote to push for this article took a major toll on free content usage and copyright reformation. Because of this vote, the EU will be very firm with the action of placing this article, giving way for mass copyright changes and the exploitation of content by major online media companies. Multiple petitions have started before and after the vote, but very few have managed to get the EU’s attention.

For those who wish to continue having a free Internet throughout the EU, it’s just a matter of hope that something comes along and multiple countries call to overturn their votes. Nobody is sure on how likely that’s bound to happen, but one thing is certain: Article 11 and Article 13 provide an unhealthy dose for the Internet.

The spread of ideas and information have always played a major function in how the Internet works, to disallow this takes a toll on the Internet’s entirety. Both of these articles damage the idea of free speech, content use, and the use of information in Europe, creating a censorship machine that pollutes the web. People must make their voices heard in order to stop their own ideas from being clouded out. But with the vote confirmed, that sense of fear for users may soon become a reality.