YouTube Warns 'Meme Law' Will End The Internet As We Know It

YouTube has come out in strong criticism of a controversial reform in the European Parliament that could make it impossible to post memes, parodies or even make music.

Article 13 passed the EU's legislative parliament last month and -- barring a final vote -- is on track to become law.

It would place more responsibility on user-generated content websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube to filter or remove copyrighted material, rather than putting that onus on copyright holders themselves.

Article 13 has been dubbed the "meme ban", and for good reason: most of your favourite visual memes have their origin in a film, music video, TV show, or even a stock image company.

In her quarterly letter to creators, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki warned that Article 13 could "drastically change the internet" as we know it.

"Article 13, as written, threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people — from creators like you to everyday users — to upload content to platforms like YouTube," she said.

"It threatens to block users in the EU from viewing content that is already live on the channels of creators everywhere. This includes YouTube’s incredible video library of educational content, such as language classes, physics tutorials and other how-to’s.

"This legislation poses a threat to both your livelihood and your ability to share your voice with the world. And, if implemented as proposed, Article 13 threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs, European creators, businesses, artists and everyone they employ."

Inventor of the internet Tim Berners-Lee and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales signed an open letter from "the Internet's original architects and pioneers and their successors" arguing against Article 13.

They insist that it does not address the copyright concerns of creators, and will instead take an "unprecedented step" in transforming the Internet from a tool of sharing and innovation and into one of surveillance.

READ MORE: Making A Meme In Mexico Could Land You In Jail

READ MORE: Swedish Advertising Watchdog Rules 'Distracted Boyfriend Meme' Sexist

Some creators, such as musician Wyclef Jean, are on the anti-Article 13 side, arguing that proposed 'upload filters' will restrict artists from creation.

Yet far more, including big names like Paul McCartney, are in favour of the laws.

Article 13 fills the "value gap" between creating music and users not paying for it, the Beatles star argued in a letter to the European Parliament.

"We need an Internet that is fair and sustainable for all," he said.

Paul McCartney Moves James Corden To Tears In Emotional Carpool Karaoke

Both Article 13 and it's slightly lesser-known companion, Article 11 -- which intends to force news aggregation sites like Google News to pay publishers for using snippets of their articles such as headlines -- go to a final vote in January.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Lead photo: Distracted Boyfriend Meme