Does article 13 ban fanfiction


Article 13, now known as Article 17 in the latest update, of the European Union's Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market has become a subject of huge debate in the context of the world of fanfiction. This article has stirred concerns among writers and readers alike in the fanfiction community regarding their creative freedom. This is due to the article's intent to tighten copyright infringement laws that could potentially affect content on the internet, including fan-created works such as fanfiction. This article will delve into the possible ramifications and perspectives surrounding the law and its potential impacts on fanfiction.

Understanding the Premise of Article 13

The primary goal of Article 13 is to reform copyright laws to meet the digital age's challenges. It imposes stricter regulations on platforms hosting user-generated content, which includes popular sites like YouTube, Facebook and, to a lesser extent, fanfiction websites.

Does article 13 ban fanfiction

These platforms would be required to monitor and prevent their users from sharing copyrighted material. This clause has sparked worries about concerns of censorship and the stifling of creativity, given that many creators of derivative content, especially fanfiction writers, may unknowingly infringe upon these laws.

Assessing the Direct Impact on Fanfiction

A popular perception is that Article 13 will ban fanfiction. However, that's not necessarily the case. The law does not explicitly target fanfiction or impose a blanket ban. The issue lies in how it can indirectly affect fanfiction websites and platforms, particularly those based in the EU, due to their potential liability for user-generated content.

While there is no direct ban, these websites may be forced to implement strict content filtering systems to monitor any potential copyright infringements. Alternatively, fanfiction platforms may choose to limit the sharing of derivative works based on copyrighted material, which could limit the scope and creativity inherent in fanfiction writing.

The "Fair Use" Argument

A significant point made by critics of Article 13 is whether fanfiction can be considered an application of the "fair use" principle. This principle allows the use of copyrighted works for commentary, criticism, or parody. Many fanfiction works do fit these categories, essentially giving rise to transformative works that reimagine or reinterpret the original work in new ways, thereby possibly exempting them from copyright infringement.

However, the interpretation of "fair use" is often subjective and varies per jurisdiction, potentially leading to legal ambiguities. This ambiguity can complicate the situation when tackling fanfiction content, especially since it cuts across international boundaries through online platforms.

Impacting Content Filtering Systems

Article 13 can affect content filtering systems, particularly those used by fanfiction platforms. Implementing such systems can be a costly affair and could lead to over-blocking, particularly for smaller platforms with limited resources. Similarly, these filters could mistakenly block legitimate posts, causing unnecessary inconveniences to users.

The law's phrasing could, therefore, possibly lead to a chilling effect on internet freedom and the sharing of derivative works, which would directly impact fanfiction communities.

Community Response

In response to Article 13, many internet communities, including fanfiction, have rallied against the law. Their concerns largely stem from fears about internet censorship and the stifling of creativity and intellectual freedom. Moreover, this law's implementation can be seen as policing online spaces and potentially irking fanfiction writers who often use these spaces to express their creativity freely.


1. Will Article 13 effectively ban fanfiction? A: No, the law does not directly ban fanfiction but imposes stricter regulations on user content that may affect the hosting and sharing of fanfiction.

2. What is the "fair use" principle? A: "Fair use" is a legal doctrine that permits the use of copyrighted material under certain conditions, such as commentary, criticism, and parody. Whether fanfiction applies under "fair use" depends on specific laws and individual interpretations.

3. Why is Article 13 being opposed? A: Article 13 has faced opposition due to fears of internet censorship, stifling creativity, and encroaching upon internet freedoms, including those enjoyed by fanfiction communities.


Although Article 13 doesn't directly ban fanfiction, it is set to change the landscape of fan-created works on the internet. The potential for tighter restrictions and content-filtering measures can alter how fanfiction is shared and celebrated online. While not a direct threat, it's an imminent challenge that fanfiction communities and other online creative spaces need to navigate carefully.


1. Directive 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market and amending Directives 96/9/EC and 2001/29/EC.

2. "Copyright rules for the digital environment: Europe analyses the impact of the new Directive" by R. Xalabarder, Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, 2019.

Explore your companion in WeMate