The EU's Copyright Law Won't Be Something We'll See Here in the UK Post-Brexit

By Shabana Arif on at

The UK could be opting for less stifling copyright laws, and hopefully not cooking up its own warped version of the EU's misguided copyright directive.

To give you a brief reminder and overview, Article 11 and Article 13 (now called Article 17) were proposed in 2018 as the first major update to European copyright law since 2001. Both were vague enough in their wording to raise critics' alarm bells, and called for websites to monitor copyrighted material and fork over fees to news outlets when linking out to their articles.

Article 13 (which we'll call by its new name, Article 17 now, to stop things form getting confusing) drew opposition from some of the most influential people in tech - including one of the “fathers of the internet,” Vint Cerf, and the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee. They were joined by 68 of their peers - all big names in the field - and signed a letter voicing their belief that Article 17 would impinge on freedom of speech, education, expression, and small businesses. And more importantly, it would pose a threat to our beloved GIFs and memes which mine copyrighted material for their content.

Article 11 would require online platforms to pay for a license to link out to news publishers, but fails to properly clarify what falls under that description, once again leaving the interpretation open to abuse.

The EU approved the directive last year with 348 votes in favour, 274 against, and 36 abstentions, but there was still hope that it wouldn't be as dire as first thought, with each country in the EU having two years to hammer out the finer details before rolling it out in their respective countries. Amazingly, a number of MEPs later said that they'd voted incorrectly, but of course, it was too late to change anything.

Well, happily, that'll all be someone else's problem come January 31. Despite the UK voting to support the law at the time, universities and science minister Chris Skidmore has said that it will not be implementing the EU copyright directive post-Brexit (BBC). PM Boris Johnson even piped up the same month it passed, saying it was "terrible for the internet".

That doesn't mean we're free and clear, but it's a positive start - especially coming off the back of the scrapping of the porn block that no one was on board with and had been delayed a fair few times because the government couldn't get its shit together to properly hash it out. [Engadget]