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Tim Berners-Lee warns Article 13 could kill the web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the internet, has written to the European Parliament to object to Article 13.

Berners-Lee, along with over 70 other notable names in the field of technology, has signed his name to a letter addressed to the President of the European Parliament warning Article 13 could spell the death of the internet.

The rules contained in Article 13 of the Copyright Directive effectively make it a breach of the law to share any content online, which uses copyrighted material.

The EU plans to apply the law not only to copyright, but also to extremism and hate speech, sparking fears for the future of freedom of speech online.

Other notable figures to have signed the letter include co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, and the founder of the Internet Archive, Brewster Kahle.

The letter reads: "By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, 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.

"Europe has been served well by the balanced liability model established under the Ecommerce Directive, under which those who upload content to the Internet bear the principal responsibility for its legality, while platforms are responsible to take action to remove such content once its illegality has been brought to their attention.

"By inverting this liability model and essentially making platforms directly responsible for ensuring the legality of content in the first instance, the business models and investments of platforms large and small will be impacted. The damage that this may do to the free and open Internet as we know it is hard to predict, but in our opinions could be substantial."

They warn: "The cost of putting in place the necessary automatic filtering technologies will be expensive and burdensome, and yet those technologies have still not developed to a point where their reliability can be guaranteed. Indeed, if Article 13 had been in place when Internet's core protocols and applications were developed, it is unlikely that it would exist today as we know it."

It was revealed earlier this week that if Article 13 does go ahead it would lead to the death of memes.

Online gags such as Angelina Jolie's Leg, which famously sparked a string of memes on social media in 2012 after posed at the Oscars in a dress with a thigh-high split in the skirt, would become illegal.

A vote on the new law is due to take place later this month.

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