The People’s Party of Spain want to pass a new law called the “Gag Law”. It would mean that people couldn’t distribute images or photos online without permission. According to some reports, this would mean that distributing memes without the original owner’s permission could be considered illegal.
The proposal is about respecting and honoring the dissemination of information through online networks, with the article stating that the “Gag Law” would be used for…
“”unusual” dissemination of information on the Internet and infringement of the right to honor, and exemplifies the dissemination of photos on social networks without the consent of their owners.”
The article explains that this measure to increase protection of copyrighted material through the spread of social media would also affect jocular mimetic imagery, commonly referred to as “memes”.
Viginia Perez Alonso, the president of the Platform in Defense of Freedom of Information (oftentimes shortened to PDLI), commented about this proposed reformation of data and image sharing, saying that the internet should not have a separate set of laws different from what already exists…
“[…] we are concerned about this reform because the Internet does not require special laws: they must exist in the network [utilizing] the same rights and obligations outside [the network], and the current rules on right to honor and this experience tells us that when the Internet is specifically regulated, the result is a reduction of freedoms and rights that is then very difficult to reverse.”
There have been a lot of strange attempts to wage war on memes from politicians. The Clinton campaign based one of their talking points on turning the popular frog Pepe into a symbol of Nazism, resulting in the frog being added to the ADL database, and causing rare Pepes to trade for real money on the Bitcoin index.
While some worry that this Gag Law reformation would hamper the use of memes through social media, the People’s Party have defended the reform bill saying that it does not explicitly mention memes, unless they’re used as an insult, a “threat of death” or used where a “crime is charged” to an individual included within the meme.
On the upside, the article states that a majority of the house would have to vote for the new law to go into effect regarding the use of images through social media only when approved by the owner of the image, and some have argued that the crimes of death threats, rape threats and defamation are already regulated and don’t need to extend to “gagging” political or social criticism through social media.