In Soviet Russia, memes illegal you!
Anyway, according to a report by the Washington Post, most internet memes that relate to public figures are now illegal. This came per a ruling from Russia’s Roskomnadzor, which made it illegal to publish any meme that, “depicts a public figure in a way that has nothing to do with his ‘personality.'”
Not quite sure what that means? Me either. Given Russia’s history of media and Internet censorship, this likely means that it will be interpreted as broadly as possible.
This ruling stems from a Russian court decision that came after singer Valeri Syutkin sued a Russian website for publication of this meme:
Roughly translated: “Smack that bi^%& in the face”
A Russian judge ruled in Syutin’s favor, prompting the Roskomnadzor ruling.
The practical effect of the ruling is this: Websites can no longer publish memes that have nothing to do with a public figure’s “personality.” If they do, the figure in question can report the website to Roskomnadzor, which can then file claims in court and block a website completely.
This, of course, stands in stark contrast to America, where public figures can be mocked regularly. Heck, my best friend made this meme of me yesterday:
This is truly amazing, and good luck enforcing it – I suspect that Russia will be very busy trying to block numerous websites in the immediate future. And, in all seriousness, it’s amazing how much of a contrast this is to America. We have many things to complain about, but I literally cannot imagine living in a country where I wasn’t free to attack elected officials – and, as a public official, I cannot imagine being free from attack. It’s not something I would ever want, and it’s completely antithetical to the American political experience.
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