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EU votes on copyright law that could kill memes and open source software

The European Union has passed an initial vote in favour of the Copyright Directive, a legislation experts say "threatens the internet". 

As reported by Wired, the mandate is designed to update internet copyright law but contains two controversial clauses. Ultimately, it could force prominent online platforms to censor their users' content before it's posted—which could impact everyone from meme creators to open source software designers and livestreamers. 

Despite passing a vote yesterday—held by the EU's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI)—the directive needs parliamentary approval before becoming law. 

And while much of the directive seems well-intended, Article 11 and Article 13 are considered problematic by critics. As told by The Verge, the former is a "link tax" which could force the likes of Google and Facebook to buy licenses from media companies before linking to their content. The latter, on the other hand, is an "upload filter" which would require everything uploaded online in the EU to be checked for copyright infringement prior to posting.  

To this end, the Copyright Directive primarily aims to prevent music, video and online streams from being pirated, but instead casts a net over all copyrightable material. Wired gives internet memes as an example, whereby viral sharing would become illegal under the new proposed rules. 

The Verge reports over 70 experts in relative fields oppose the proposal, including World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and Mozilla executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker. 

This letter, sent to both the European Commission and European Parliament, argues that the directive's Article 13 "takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users." 

Green MEP Julia Reda and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales expressed similar reservations to journalists via Reuters.  

Again, while having passed an initial vote, the legislation still requires parliamentary approval to become law. Exact dates for further negotiations, parliamentary agreements and a final vote are yet to be determined. 

The Save Your Internet initiative provides more information till then. Likewise, the original European Commission proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market can be read here.