Stop, that grumpy cat meme is illegal in Australia

According to a campaign for copyright law reform down under, anyone who creates a meme is breaking the law. (Screeengrab/YouTube)

Abandon your actual advice mallards and retire your Reddit memes, Australians, because according to a campaign for copyright law reform down under, you're all a bunch of law breakers.

The Australian Digital Alliance (ADA) has launched a campaign designed to point out flaws in the country's copyright law, which states that "distributing an infringing article that prejudicially affects the copyright owner" is illegal.

[ Related: Meme-weary internet gives collective shrug to ‘Vadering’ photos ]

The translation of that legalese, according to, is that sharing a YouTube video or creating a meme could land you with a hefty fine — in some cases up to $93,500 — and jail time. Or, as the ADA's campaign puts it, "You is an outlaw." You being, essentially, everyone.

The law is rarely enforced but the campaign organizers hope to convince the Australian government to update the legislation so that online sharing can exit the shadows of illegal behaviour. Australia is undergoing a review of its copyright laws right now, reported.

"At this very moment, many people in Australia are breaching copyright. They are doing creative things, commonplace things, public interest things, things that are improving our community and culture, and they are breaching copyright, often without even being aware of it," the campaign website says.

Reforming laws to make sharing illegal for those who aren't making money from their mashups and memes is only fair given that such sharing has become part of online culture, the organizers argue.

Canadian law permits using copyrighted images in user-generated work, but only if it isn't for commercial use and if it does not “have a substantial adverse effect” on the source item, be it Stephen Harper with a cat or Rob Ford.

The Fulbright Social Media Blog has questioned whether the legislation's wording is clear enough cover our ever-evolving meme-ifications.