This Happened

Prepare Your Rage Comics: It’s Technically Illegal to Make and Share Memes in Australia

How do we bring this law stateside?
Please stop. (Photo: Internet)

Please stop. (Photo: Internet)

Most of the time, the dizzying rate of creation of half-baked memes by our fellow Internet users makes for a horrible experience. So, perhaps Australia has the right idea: It’s technically illegal to create and share memes under the country’s copyright laws.

For those keeping score at home, under section 132A part 2 of the Copyright Act, “distributing an infringing article that prejudicially affects the copyright owner” is considered illegal. That entails image macros posted on Reddit, videos uploaded on YouTube and pictures distributed on Facebook.

Although the law is barely enforced, Australia is filled with millions of a new types of criminals. Now, a group called the Australian Digital Alliance is attempting to update the outdated copyright laws. The group is hoping to persuade the government to allow Internet users to share, copy and repurpose content as long as revenue isn’t being taken from the original owners.

The campaign’s director, a comedian, Dan Ilic told News.co.au that Australia should really get with the times:

“This campaign is not about ripping off things and reselling it for profit,” he said. “It’s about how young people tell stories. Culture shouldn’t be outlawed.”

A government spokesperson said they will consider suggestions for the rest of the month. Until then, Australian readers of Betabeat (hi?), your rage comics could land your ass in jail, so it’s probably best not to be part of the problem.

Follow Jordan Valinsky on Twitter or via RSS. jvalinsky@observer.com