Memes are safe, for now!

Meme Harold

For a large portion of the population viewing, sharing and laughing at memes is a part of their everyday life.

For those unfamiliar with memes (pronounced “meem(s)”) they can be simply described as humorous images, videos or pieces of text that are copied and spread rapidly by internet users.

For example, an image or a video of a footballer celebrating wildly could have the words written over the top “when you put your hand in your pocket and pull out £10 you didn’t realise was there”.

The popularity of memes has spread in recent years as a result of the growth of social media platforms and a memes ability to provide us with quickfire, relatable humour.

Legal Battle

However, all of this was put under threat by the suggestion of a new EU Copyright Directive. The aim of the law change was to protect the intellectual property rights of people who upload their material to the internet.

The Directive would have placed memes directly in the firing line as memes (which include image macros such as “Hide the pain Harold” - the nickname given to the model András Arató) are shared by large amounts of people without any approval from the owner of the copyright.

Campaigners such as Sir Paul McCartney argued that the Directive would help ensure musicians get paid fairly.

But those opposing the Directive stressed that the law would require “all content uploaded to the internet to be monitored and potentially deleted if a likeness to existing copyright is protected” and the resulting economic damage to online platforms would be severe.


Much to the relief of many large technology companies and meme lovers, on 5th July 2018 MEPs rejected taking the Directive forward.

Some would say that the result was never in doubt given that the EU Commission, quite fittingly, posted the following meme through its official twitter account in late June.

Meme Blog

However, even though the first battle is over, the war, dubbed ‘Robo v Copyright”, may still be very much on as a plenary session of the full parliament voted in favour of debating the issue again in the autumn.

If you would like information or advice on protecting your business or branding, please contact our Commercial team.