EU decides to save Wikipedia and internet memes, for now

Members of the European Parliament voted to strike down a controversial copyright law that could have broad implications on internet memes, Wikipedia, and news content. In June, the bill passed the European Union’s Legal Affairs Committee, known as Juri, but Members of Parliament (MEPs) voted 318 to 278 against the proposed copyright legislation on July 5. The bill will be sent back to committee for revision ahead of a newly scheduled September vote.

At the center of the controversy of the bill are two articles. The first provision, known as Article 13, would require internet companies to install content filters to prevent unauthorized uploads of copyrighted materials, a proposal that could have legal implications for memes. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), academics, researchers, and even Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, had written an open letter to European regulators ahead of the June committee vote urging them to not support the copyright directive.

“By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering of all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step toward 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,” the EFF letter stated, noting that the burden of monitoring falls squarely on the shoulders of small European businesses and startups. The EFF argued that larger American companies could afford to bear the cost of compliance.

While supporters of the Copyright Directive argued that the rules would have given publishers, copyright owners, and artists more control over their content, opponents said the laws would stifle creativity and innovation on the internet. Numerous music labels and artists such as Sir Paul McCartney urged MEPs to vote in favor of the changes, noting that Article 13 “would address the value gap and help assure a sustainable future for the music ecosystem and its creators, fans, and digital music services alike.” Following the vote, BPI Music, a group that represented the interest of music labels in the UK, said that they will work with MEPs to “explain how the proposed directive will benefit not just European creativity, but also internet users and the technology sector,” the BBC reported.

Opponents argued that the changes could jeopardize the free spirit of the internet — and more importantly — memes. Given the use of artificial intelligence in content filtering, systems would not be able to distinguish parody, satire, and memes in fair use cases against copyright infringement. Creative Commons chief Ryan Merkley said that “if the Beatles had uploaded the cover songs they played in their early days today, the proposed upload filters would likely have blocked them.”

The second controversial provision of the legislation is Article 11, which opponents categorized as a Link Tax. Article 11 requires companies like Facebook and Google to buy licenses from publishers before linking to their stories. These articles essentially reverse earlier precedents set by EU courts. In a 2016 decision, the court ruled that simply linking to copyrighted materials does not count as infringement. In a separate 2012 ruling, the EU court in Luxembourg said that sites should not be compelled to install or otherwise operate content filters to check for privacy.

Opponents to the copyright directive claimed online organizations such as Wikipedia and GitHub would be at risk of shutting down because of the Link Tax. “If the proposal is approved, it may be impossible to share a newspaper article on social networks or find it on a search engine,” opponents, including Berners-Lee, had collectively argued in the open letter from June. If the bill is passed in a September vote, the EU law could have implications for future legislation in the US.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robo sidekicks, AC for your bed, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

Stay inside this summer with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in August, from ‘Arrested Development’ to ‘Dark Tourist’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in August 2018, from ‘Blue Valentine’ to ‘Jurassic Park’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Computing

What's the best laptop? We've reviewed a lot of them -- and this is our answer

The best laptop should be one that checks all the boxes: Great battery life, beautiful design, and top-notch performance. The laptops we've chosen for our best laptops you can buy do all that — and throw in some extra features while…
Computing

Researchers hack John McAfee’s ‘unhackable’ Bitfi cryptocurrency wallet

Researchers have successfully hacked John McAfee's Bitfi cryptocurrency wallet. Researchers show that the device can be hacked, as they have gained access to the device's private keys and passphrase despite McAfee's security promotion.
Computing

Pricing and lack of content are still barriers against the adoption of VR

A recent survey questioned 595 VR and AR professionals about business growth in the consumer and enterprise markets. Only 24 percent report strong sales in the enterprise while 18 percent show strong sales in the consumer market.
Computing

Tired of choosing between Windows and Mac? Check out these Chromebooks instead

We've compiled a list of the best Chromebooks -- laptops that combine great battery life, comfortable keyboards, and the performance it takes to run Google's lightweight Chrome OS. From Samsung to Acer, these are the Chromebooks that really…
Emerging Tech

The world’s first practical quantum computer has cash and a timeline

The dream of building a practical quantum computer could be closer than ever, thanks to a $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation to seven universities around the United States.
Computing

Nvidia teases new GeForce RTX 2080 launch at Gamescom next week

Gamers will have something exciting to look forward to next week when Gamescom starts. Nvidia posted a teaser video to YouTube containing hints that it could use the venue to announce the new GeForce RTX 2080 graphics chip.
Computing

Nvidia introduces its eighth-generation ‘Turing’ design, but not in gaming cards

Nvidia revealed its new graphics chip design called “Turing” during SIGGRAPH 2018. Rumored to be the foundation of Nvidia’s next family of GeForce cards, the company instead showcased Turing in Quadro RTX-branded cards for pros.
Home Theater

HDMI 2.0b is a whole lot more than just a connection to your TV

HDMI 2.0b is the backbone for many of the latest updates in 4K UHD technology. And while a new cable standard can often involve a bunch of changes for consumers, that is not the case this time around.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Deals

For work or for play, these are the 5 best laptop deals for college students

Whether you're getting ready for a new school year, shopping for a special student, or just need a new computer, we've got you covered: These are the five best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to an on-the-go gaming…