One does not simply upload a meme anymore
The death of memes?

The EU seems hellbent on trying to justify its existence with greater and greater desperation. It is almost as if they feel threatened, but I cannot think why that might be the case.

The recent GDPR implementation is a good example of meddling as a justification for their existence, at least it does to me.

GDPR is a joke, in my humble opinion. It has left institutions, here in the UK, applying serious restrictions where commonsense once prevailed. To the point that a local educational institution of my acquaintance is now encrypting ALL their emails because they think it’s required under GDPR legislation. Even the most innocuous communications have to be laboriously decrypted via the Microsoft website – when it works! The poor staff are not at fault. They are carrying out what they genuinely believe is required by legislation that appears to be poorly thought out, poorly defined and designed (laughter) to battle the rapacious data hungry monsters like Facebook and Google.

The threat of severe financial penalties for those who transgress GDPR are enough to put the willies up anyone who wishes to do business in the EU. To the point some major non-EU news outlets now block EU visitors to their websites. (The LA Times is just one example).

Talk about stifling the free flow of information….

But that was just for starters. Now we have the EU’s Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. A part of which threatens the idea of “fair use” of content in such things as the ever popular memes. Content hosting services (Twitter and Facebook amongst others) will be required to scan everything that’s uploaded to ensure that no copyright infringement takes place. Now that is what I call a Herculean task. I understand that YouTube do have scanning technology but that it took more than a decade to develop and, I’m going out on a limb here, I suspect that it’s not as effective as the EU legal wonks would like.

I suspect that the businesses which will be most effected will feel forced to adopt a very heavy handed approach to this requirement. They have received a lot of negative press of late and will be anxious to avoid any further bad publicity. So I expect that if this new set of regulations are adopted by all the EU states then we’ll see either of two things.

  1. Draconian restrictions on the content posted to the likes of social media just in case it might breach the new guidelines.
  2. A ban on people inside the EU from using such services to protect the  content hosters from breaching the new guidelines.

Of course, you can take the view that such things are open to legal challenge. But that’s just another way of saying “I’d like to line the pockets of an army of lawyers during a long and drawn out legal case that I’m not certain to win”. Strangely enough, I’ve found that lawyers are more than happy to fight such cases. I don’t know why.

A tweet from an EU agency responding to someone’s fears about all this did mention the idea of some sort of mechanism to protect the use of material based on the idea of “parody exception”. And no, I neither know what “parody exception” is or how to explain it to an overworked employee of a social media company tasked with protecting them from prosecution.

I did find an excellent explanation of “parody exception” here. But even this makes it clear that the law/laws are open to interpretation. Especially if anyone thinks that a parody is damaging or unfavourable. Hmm, a parody that isn’t damaging or unfavourable doesn’t sound much like a parody to me.

Soon the internet, for EU citizens at least, will be so hedged in by caveats, poorly understood and over complex rules that freedom of expression will become a long forgotten concept. The Powers That Be will rejoice in that they will have justified their existence AND made people fearful of making fun of them.

Sounds like a win-win for someone.

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