The fate of GIFs and memes is in danger with new European legislation. The proposed copyright laws, which passed the European Parliament’s legal branch last week, would prevent any copyrighted materials from being made into GIFs and memes.

The overall intent of the law is to protect original content from being misused, however, the scope as currently defined is too broad:

The most controversial part of the proposal is Article 13, which would require websites to monitor everything uploaded from the EU to ensure the content does not include copyrighted material. This is akin to YouTube’s practice of filtering every video for possibly using media that the creator did not give the uploader permission to use.

The proposed law’s wording remains vague, but it would include memes, GIFs, remixes, and any other form of shared internet culture.

To become law, the legislation still has to pass the full European Parliament, but if it does, the results for internet culture would be devastating. Opponents of the law argue that it is restrictive and a form of censorship, and that it would be a burden for internet platforms, who would have to implement filtering systems to remove copyrighted material. There are also reported inconsistencies in the law itself.

Concerned Europeans have been voicing their complaints over social media using the hashtag #SaveTheMeme, and- wait for it- memes. Some have pointed out that the only country that currently requires upload filters is communist nation of China.

Hopefully the backlash generated by the proposed legislation will be able to stop it from becoming law, and Europeans will retain their creative license to create memes and GIFs.