I checked my e-mail today and saw an e-mail from a local meme account based out of Jacksonville. If you aren’t living in Duval (Jacksonville, FL), it is a meme account that posts Duval/Jacksonville related memes. I thought it was just a harmless meme account, but after some quick research, I found that this meme account is selling Duval related merchandise on their website… and pricey advertising opportunities.
So the back story of my e-mail – back around Labor Day, I sent this meme account an e-mail with a video I produced that I thought would be great for their platform – it was topical, it was funny, and it was produced in Duval.
It “only’ took six weeks for the owner of this account to respond with, “I don’t think we’ll be a good fit together.” I, of course, responded asking for clarification, but after digging into this “business” and discovering how it was built, I then realized that I don’t want to be associated with the brand anymore.
So what does all this have to do with Article 13 and why do I hope this happens in the US? To answer that, let’s look at what Article 13 is…
What is Article 13?
In short, Article 13 is a meme ban.
To be more specific, though, Article 13 is the part of the new EU Copyright Directive that covers how “online content sharing services” should deal with copyright-protected content, such as television programs and movies.
It refers to services that primarily exist to give the public access to “protected works or other protected subject-matter uploaded by its users”, so it is likely to cover services such as YouTube, Dailymotion and Soundcloud.
However, there is also a long list of exemptions, including:
- non-profit online encyclopedias
- open source software development platforms
- cloud storage services
- online marketplaces
- communication services
What does Article 13 say?
Article 13 says content-sharing services must license copyright-protected material from the rights holders.
If that is not possible and material is posted on the service, the company may be held liable unless it can demonstrate:
- it made “best efforts” to get permission from the copyright holder
- it made “best efforts” to ensure that material specified by rights holders was not made available
- it acted quickly to remove any infringing material of which it was made aware
These rules apply to services that have been available in the EU for more than three years, or have an annual turnover of more than $11.2m.
Article 13 says it shall “in no way affect legitimate uses” and people will be allowed to use bits of copyright-protected material for the purpose of criticism, review, parody and pastiche.
Essentially, what Article 13 does is obliterate the meme-culture.
Why Do I Hate Memes So Much?
I have a love-hate relationship with memes. Yes, I admit they’re funny and topical. I mean, it’s easy to be topical and funny when you are only slapping text on someone else’s copyrighted content. I also admit that I have even shared them and am guilty of making them to share with friends via e-mail or text. So, in that way, I do love them.
Where the hate for memes comes in is when people use meme creation as a pathway to build a “viable” business. For example, the meme account I e-mailed claims on their website that they grew faster than any other Instagram account in Jacksonville, Florida. Being able to say you grew an Instagram account faster than anyone else gives a person a lot of selling power. Because of that, they now sell t-shirts, accessories, and advertisement packages – which are apparently too pricey for me.
It is bizarre to me (and feels illegal) that this person created a successful meme account based off of copyrighted material and is now selling merchandise and advertising opportunities based off their “huge” following. Their business is selling clothing and ad space, all because they stole content and put text over it to make it “locally relevant.” I can only imagine what other doors this account is creating for him.
What’s even more frustrating is the journey of this account and how it all started. On its first posts, back in 2013, they were asking for content submissions. So essentially, they created an account where people could submit content and then eventually, they turned to downloading copyrighted images and editing them. But 6 years later, after establishing an audience, they are charging for content submissions. I’m offering gold (100% original content) and they want me to pay them?
Meanwhile, I have spent 10 years in Jacksonville, creating 100% original content, and though I have had success in other areas in my life, people still don’t know who Upside Down Creative Media is. I know our comedy isn’t for everyone, but somehow, I have managed to get the attention and support from people like Kyle Newacheck (creator of Workaholics, Murder Mystery on Netflix, etc.), not to mention others in the comedy world. We’re good enough for Hollywood people, but this local meme account says we’re not a good fit for them? It makes no sense to me.
My question to readers: why does this not enrage you? Why do we normalize building success by stealing from the work from others? Why are rewarding shortcuts and ignoring those who work at an art form for decades?
Why I Want Article 13 To Happen In The US
If Article 13 happens in the United States, then “businesses” like the meme account in this article, that build their foundation off of the work of others, will cease to exist and the accounts with truly original, copyright free funny videos like mine, will finally rise to the top and hold the value that it should rightfully have.
It is impossible to keep up with the rate at which meme accounts provide content, because they are STEALING from others. The execution pathway to meme creation is to think of a joke, find a photo, and slap text on it — this can happen in a matter of minutes.
The pathway to create an original web series or comedic short films is weeks or months in the making. It makes it incredibly hard for our work to reach people when they are fulfilling their entertainment quota with uninspired memes. If Article 13 happens, then what value will meme creators have in the world?
I mean no disrespect to the guy that runs this site on a personal level and understand the life of an entrepreneur, but from a business standpoint, I have no respect for him and hope he has a Plan B. I learned this a long time ago: “There are many shortcuts to failure, but there are no shortcuts to success.”