New EU copyright law could mean a clampdown on social media images

The way This Site – and others – uses images may have to change radically after the European Parliament approved new laws on copyright.

The European Copyright Directive requires organisations to pay licence fees to publications like newspapers for linking to their material (Article 11) and demands that websites that host user-generated content prevent copyrighted material from being uploaded without permission, or be held liable for their users’ copyright infringement (Article 13).

It means you can wave goodbye to that old, trusty meme based on a line from a movie – the line and the image are copyright material and your host, including Facebook, Twitter and the other social media platforms, will have to pay for its use. The combined bill could equal the GDP of a small – or indeed large – country and nobody in business is likely to accept that kind of risk.

And it means I’ll need to rethink the images I use here. I experimented with ‘cartoonising’ images of political figures as illustrations, about a year ago, but some readers complained. It may be that I’ll have to stop using images for a while, although that would certainly harm the number of visits to the site; people are attracted by appropriate imagery.

It seems, thanks to the European Parliament, the future is blank.

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15 thoughts on “New EU copyright law could mean a clampdown on social media images

  1. K Morris Poet

    Thanks for the heads-up on this. I assume that merely linking to an article on, say The Guardian’s website (without copying any of it’s contents) is still allowable, as one is not infringing anyone’s work by so doing? There is an interesting question as regards reblogs (I.E. if someone places the reblog button on their site and someone reblogs part of an article, the person with the reblog button is, I assume deemed to have given permission for a part of the material to be shared.

  2. SteveH

    There are other parts of this that may have more impact. See highlighted section in the ‘WHAT’S WRONG WITH ARTICLE 11 paragraph.

    The European Copyright Directive: What Is It, and Why Has It Drawn More Controversy Than Any Other Directive In EU History?

    What is Article 11 (The “Link Tax”)?
    Article 11 seeks to give news companies a negotiating edge with Google, Facebook and a few other Big Tech platforms that aggregate headlines and brief excerpts from news stories and refer users to the news companies’ sites. Under Article 11, text that contains more than a “snippet” from an article are covered by a new form of copyright, and must be licensed and paid by whoever quotes the text, and while each country can define “snippet” however it wants, the Directive does not stop countries from making laws that pass using as little as three words from a news story.

    What’s wrong with Article 11/The Link Tax?
    Article 11 has a lot of worrying ambiguity: it has a very vague definition of “news site” and leaves the definition of “snippet” up to each EU country’s legislature. Worse, the final draft of Article 11 has no exceptions to protect small and noncommercial services, including Wikipedia but also your personal blog. The draft doesn’t just give news companies the right to charge for links to their articles—it also gives them the right to ban linking to those articles altogether, (where such a link includes a quote from the article) so sites can threaten critics writing about their articles. Article 11 will also accelerate market concentration in news media because giant companies will license the right to link to each other but not to smaller sites, who will not be able to point out deficiencies and contradictions in the big companies’ stories.

    What is Article 13 (“Censorship Machines”)?
    Article 13 is a fundamental reworking of how copyright works on the Internet. Today, online services are not required to check everything that their users post to prevent copyright infringement, and rightsholders don’t have to get a court order to remove something they view as a copyright infringement—they just have to send a “takedown notice” and the services have to remove the post or face legal jeopardy. Article 13 removes the protection for online services and relieves rightsholders of the need to check the Internet for infringement and send out notices. Instead, it says that online platforms have a duty to ensure that none of their users infringe copyright, period. Article 13 is the most controversial part of the Copyright Directive.

    1. Colin Taylor

      Article 13 is just SO wrong on so many levels; it is a typical ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’ It effectively means the end of Transformative works.
      Had this typical kneejerk response been in force back in the 1960’s , you could say goodbye to such films as The Magnificent Seven or even Star Wars, both of which are, effectivley, reworks of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai of 1954.
      Even the classic ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, by Procol Harum, is based on melodies by Bach. Under Article 13, this too would be automatically taken down.
      This has nothing to do with ‘Ensuring Artists are properly rewarded for their efforst’ and everything to do with keeping the Entertainment Industry’s Business Model running

      1. SteveH

        To be honest Colin I’m far more concerned about the possible impact on the ability of the ‘independent media’ being able to hold MSM to account. The implications of the section above in bold print are quite scary.

  3. SteveH

    I’ve just realised that my comment (awaiting moderation) may be a bit long. If you wish to edit it down then that’s OK with me.

  4. Rik

    Oh woe is me . . the pain, the pain of it all . .
    Dr. Zachary Smith : circa 1960s

    I voted to remain & now it doesn’t look very appetizing
    for the near future . .
    I hope we do get another chance of a snap election
    anytime soon . . .

  5. Meryl Davids

    Well saying anything has probably been said before so plagiarism could be the accusation so best not say anything thanks for more junk legislation unelected failed politicians in Brussels

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      All the politicians who supported this law were elected. You have undermined your own comment with that single false allegation alone.

      1. Colin Taylor

        Which will have been drafted by OUR Civil Servants, then Debated and voted on by OUR Elected MPs

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        No – we’ll still be subject to THIS law as it has been passed while the UK is still a member of the EU. OUR MEPs debated it and OUR elected MEPs voted on it.

      3. Colin Taylor

        The EU issues Directives which are then sent to individual nations to enact through bills which are Drafted by those nations’ Civil Servants, then debated and voted on by their Legislature

  6. Kevin Fitzmaurice-Brown

    I have lost large sums of revenue due to copyright thieves and people thinking they can simply do as they please with my pictures. That goes for newspapers also. Facebook is been trawling images for years and its another reason the USA wants UK out of the EU and the EU destroyed.

Comments are closed.