Europe goes Green

I am very happy about voter turnout in Sunday’s European Elections and even more happy about the strong support for the Greens!

Many people have understood that we need to take urgent action to protect our climate and our environment, and that we cannot do it alone – it needs a regional and global approach.

With their newfound power, the Greens can now affect change in Europe and work with S&D, ALDE and EPP to protect our climate for future generations!

I’m also quite happy that in Cologne the Greens came in first, with almost 33% of votes – in the city center the Greens were almost at 43%. Yay!

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(Screenshot from Tagesschau, during election night)

European election

This is a crucial election for Europe – if you care about our online and offline worlds and want to support Europe, make sure to vote!

There’s still ample time to participate through postal ballot, if you cannot make it on election day – don’t let your vote go to waste!

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(Public mail box)

Elyas M’Barek

During the weekend, we saw “Der Fall Collini” by Marco Kreuzpaintner, based on a novel by Ferdinand von Schirach.

The film paints a very accurate picture of West Germany in the time after the war and before the 68 unrests, a time when a lot of Nazis were still in positions of power and used their positions to escape prosecution for their war crimes.

Der Fall Collini is most definitely a very important film, especially given the rise of the new Right in parts of Germany and Europe, but most striking is the lead actor – Elyas M’Barek in the role of the lawyer Caspar Leinen.

Elyas handled the transition from comedy to drama really well and excels in his role, torn between family, law and justice.

I believe he’s probably the best young German-speaking actor in the moment and am very much looking forward to seeing him again on the big screen!

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(Movie poster at Rex am Ring Lichtspiele, Cologne)

Barack Obama

On Thursday I had the great privilege to witness Barack Obama in an one-hour interview; the interview took place as part of the World Leadership Summit in Cologne’s biggest indoor arena, the LanXess Arena.

He spoke in great detail about our duty to protect our planet and save the environment for future generations, and outlined his vision for a sustainable future.

In my point of view, he’s still the best leader the free world ever had, and I really miss him! It was such an honor to hear him talk in person.

I do understand that he cannot become US president again, but, if we had such a thing, maybe he could become EU president, or UN president? Please? Pretty please?

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Axel Voss in Fischenich

Thursday last week we had the opportunity to meet with Axel Voss, MEP at a public hearing of his party, the CDU, in Fischenich, a small hamlet near Cologne, Germany.

In many words, Axel Voss shared his view that the new EU Copyright Directive, and mainly Articles 11 thru 13, would not bring any changes and would be nowhere near as harmful as we fear. Axel is a master of speaking for a long time without saying anything – there’s a great video from that session on Jakob’s channel.

On the next day though, his own party through their legal expert, Heribert Hirte, issued a statement that the directive will indeed require filters, which was later confirmed by the EU Commission itself; most notably, the French government immediately started to work on such filters.

The new filters would also very nicely help with the new “terror legislation“, further reducing freedom of speech in social media.

In summary – it’s not as bad as we thought, it’s much worse!

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(Breitenbacher Hof, Fischenich)

Open letter to Thomas Schmid and Die Welt

One of the low blows during the recent debate around the lost (for now) vote on the EU Copyright Directive – commonly known as Article 13 – came from Thomas Schmid, and published by Die Welt, a German center-right publication.

I’m referring to this post on his work blog “Sonst unterwerfen sie uns. Warum die EU Facebook, Google, YouTube und anderen Grenzen setzen muss” and this article in Die Welt “Sklaven der Freiheit”; as far as I can tell they seem to be identical. Unfortunately, Thomas Schmid does not have a Twitter, or any other modern way of exchanging thoughts, so I had to resort to a public reply.

Thomas Schmid puts forward a couple of very disturbing thoughts:

  • He calls all of us, who do not share his world view, masochistic and our rallies akin to patriotic war enthusiasts
  • He thinks that we’re slaves of the of the big tech companies, incapable of independent thought
  • He calls for a strong state to curb the tech companies influence and bring us back to order

Let me reply to that:

  • Indeed, we are fighting monopolies – the old-school publishers and media agencies (Springer, Gema, VG Wort, VG Bild-Kunst, …) that have put in enormous lobby efforts to convince the MEPs that they’re protecting artists and creators, while in fact they’re only protecting their bottom lines and fighting obsolescence
  • We’re neither paid, nor instructed by Alphabet or Facebook; we’re not dependents either
  • Most importantly, the very last thing this world needs is more power for the nation states

Dear Thomas – whatever vision you have of a future society, I definitely do not share it!

You claim in your bio that you have lived through the student protests in the late ’60s, but you seem to have learnt nothing; all the law and order fantasies you might have, please keep them for yourself – don’t destroy the colorful society and culture that we have now

Chris

Further reading: Why we should trust Apple and Google more than our governments

Even worse: Sold out for Russian gas?

Nothing gets old as fast as news – just as we were looking at Helga Truepel hosting yet another lobby dinner, the FAZ published an article, outlining the background behind the surprise Trilog agreements that made the Copyright Directive so much worse.

According to this article by Hendrik Wieduwilt, the agreement reached between France and Germany was based on Russian gas; if the allegations hold true, the German government agreed to a much stricter copyright law in return for the French government agreeing to North Stream 2.

This is so bad, on so many counts – my feeling is that not even Franz-Josef Strauss would have done something so shady.

Not to mention that the CDU thus broke the coalition contract they had with the SPD, which explicitly stated that Germany would veto upload filters.

Personally, I am not happy with Germany buying so much gas from the Czar – but I would have never thought that our government would kill Social Media for it.

Definitely a new low in CDU/CSU politics

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(Image Twitter)

Lobbyism at its worst

An evening before the vote on the misguided EU Copyright Directive, lobby groups are holding a dinner for MEPs.

Impala are still touting the narrative that they are heroically fighting the evil US tech giants. Their tagline is Europe for Creators – Creators that have signed up with a media agency and hand over a substantial part of their income, that is.

They completely fail to understand that it is them, the old-school publishers and media agencies that forgot to adapt to the digital age, who are the evil lobby groups in this case – killing social media because they don’t want to adapt their business model and wouldn’t survive otherwise.

It’s indeed a struggle between David and Goliath – but with us creators being David, and them media agencies being Goliath.

I’m done commenting on the  shameful role of the Greens in this, with MEP Helga Truepel actively supporting the directive and fighting against everything the Greens ever stood for, without any opposition from her peers or her party.

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(Image by Markus Reuter, 3/25/19)

Lobbyism

The more I look into the details of the revised EU Copyright Directive, the clearer it becomes that this directive has been written for the sole purpose of propping up businesses that are not capable to adapt to the digital age.

In a new twist, the lobby group for the digital rights management firms here in Germany (GEMA, VG Wort, VG Bild-Kunst, VG Musikedition) sent out a letter, explaining that the primary goal of Article 13 was to collect licensing fees and in that letter positioned themselves as ideally suited to do so on behalf of all users.

In other words, the rights management firms have lobbied the EU parliament, under the pretense of protecting artists, for a way to force the platforms to pay them licensing fees for all user-generated content. Unbelievable! They want to get paid for rights to content that they don’t own and have never supported – in the past they had nothing but disdain for us mere creators.

And the EPP, some Progressives as well as some Greens support them.

I’m speechless.

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(Cologne Central Station, Emergency rally on Tuesday, March 5th)

Berlin gegen 13

Last Saturday I attended the first rally in Berlin against Article 13 of the revised EU Copyright Directive.

Pretty impressive turnout and a number of prominent artists that were supporting the event – Berlin being Berlin, there was more techno music than chanting, but overall it was a well organized rally and I am glad I went.

Monday then saw a move by the EPP to move the date of the parliamentary vote forward a couple of weeks, to avoid the European protests on March 23rd – so we all took to the streets on Tuesday, forcing the EPP to back down, not without them trying some rather dirty maneuvers first, though.

This Saturday we’ll again have rallies, in Germany 9 cities have signed up so far.

The struggle continues!

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(Picture taken with permission from an accompanying adult)