Here’s the truth about the UK rejecting the EU’s so-called ‘meme ban’

And no, it’s not actually because of Brexit -- we never had to do it in the first place.

by Jenna Mahale
30 January 2020, 12:30pm

As of last week, the UK officially decided that it wouldn’t be adopting Article 13, a controversial copyright legislation known colloquially as the ‘meme ban’. Chris Skidmore -- the minister for communities and science -- confirmed the news, saying: “The United Kingdom will not be required to implement the directive, and the government has no plans to do so. Any future changes to the UK copyright framework will be considered as part of the usual domestic policy process.”

But the story of Article 13 is a little more complicated than that, Chris. It’s true that the legislation aims to limit how copyrighted content is shared online: the idea is that the money tech giants are making off the user-generated content on their platforms should instead go to their original creators.

Since memes often use copyrighted material from TV and film, many feared the change. But it’s important to note that there were revisions made to the law in early 2019, specifically to protect memes. The European Parliament said that the law would not apply to content that was “for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody and pastiche”, and that memes would be “specifically excluded”. However, it’s still not exactly clear how tech companies would be able to achieve this using the suggested automated content filters. Tricky.

There’s also the fact that the UK was never under any obligation to implement the law, and indeed was one of the 19 nations that originally supported Article 13. A twist! Consequently, it’s been suggested that the government’s rejection of the controversial, unpopular piece of legislation is little more than a PR stunt.

“As has quite often happened in the Brexit debate, you get the impression that EU legislation just falls from the sky and is imposed on the British people,” Julia Reda, a former MEP for Germany, told WIRED. “But that's not the case -- the UK has always been a very powerful player in the EU, due to its size, and it would have been able to simply block the adoption of the copyright directive.”

Regardless of the motivations behind the move, at least we know our memes are guaranteed safety. Isn’t that all that really matters?