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Fighting the EU meme ban with memes

At the end of the month, the EU Parliament will vote on laws that have the potential to chill free speech and creativity on the internet around the world. This is the last chance for the public to express how important a free and open internet is to us.

Daniel Markuson

Daniel Markuson

Mar 12, 2019 · 3 min read

Fighting the EU meme ban with memes

After you read more about why these reforms are a threat to free speech online, check out NordVPN’s cool contest to raise awareness about the issue as well.

How the internet is being threatened

The EU is close to passing a copyright reform law to update its copyright laws for the digital age. In many respects, the reforms are necessary to protect content creators’ and artists’ rights. However, two poorly-written articles are threatening to have a damaging effect on the freedom of expression online. These effects probably wouldn’t be limited to the EU, which is large enough to affect many website’s policies around the world.

Article 13

The problem with Article 13 is that it would force major online content platforms like Youtube, Imgur, and perhaps even Facebook to severely restrict content uploads. The way the article does this is by making content platforms responsible for copyright violations. When a content platform receives millions of uploads per day, the only way it can protect itself from this liability is by automatically filtering copyrighted content. Without human oversight, which would be impossible, these filters wouldn’t be able to distinguish between fair use and true copyright violations. The result? Everything from innocent memes and political satire to bonafide copyright violations gets banned.

The goal of Article 13 is to help protect content creators from copyright violations, which is a noble goal. However, the writers of the article don’t seem to have considered the collateral damage of this heavy-handed solution. We need to convince them that the law needs to be re-written.

Article 11

Article 11 would make content sites like news websites be able to charge platforms like Facebook for hosting links to their websites. Again, the heart of the law is arguably in the right place, but it would only serve to chill the sharing and dissemination of content online.

Here’s the idea: When we see headlines on social media, we often glance over them, gaining information without ever clicking and visiting the content. This law wants those websites to earn money just by having their links appear elsewhere. However, instead of providing struggling platforms with much-needed income, it would eliminate their readership completely. Rather than pay the link tax, content sharing platforms would simply block those links outright, preventing the content from being shared or seen.

What does NordVPN have to do with it?

We support online freedom of speech and expression, and we oppose online censorship. Artists’ copyrights need to be protected, but these laws need to be changed so that their rights are protected without damaging free speech.

Since memes are one of the most popular forms of expression that Article 13 puts at risk, we want to use them to express our opposition! We want you guys to create your best memes to protest Article 13, and the 10 most popular memes on Twitter and Reddit (separately) will each receive a free 3-year subscription to NordVPN.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Create a meme about Article 13, expressing how it might affect your life or why you’re opposed to it;

  2. Upload it to Twitter or Reddit. On Twitter, use the hashtag #NotMyEUdirective and tag NordVPN – @NordVPN. On Reddit, upload it to the sticky thread on the NordVPN subreddit (NOTE: We are launching this campaign in cooperation with the mods of the NordVPN subreddit);

  3. ???

  4. Profit: On March 26th 12:00 PM GMT, we will close the contest and count the results. We will later contact the winners through the platforms they used to submit their works of meme art. On Twitter, we will choose the top 10 memes with the highest combined number of likes and retweets. On the Reddit thread, we will choose the top 10 memes with the highest number of upvotes.


  • YES, current NordVPN subscribers can participate. If you win, the three free years will be added on to your current subscription;

  • YES, you may submit multiple entries across both platforms, but only one entry per account per platform can win.

UPDATE (March 26th, 2019): Congratulations! Now that the contest is over, we've gathered your awesome memes and found our winners. They'll be announced on their respective platforms so they can claim their free 3-year NordVPN accounts.