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)

Blackout 21

Yesterday, on Thursday, March 21st, Wikipedia and a number of other sites went offline to support the fight against article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive.

So did I with this blog.

See you tomorrow at the EU-wide rallies against article 13!

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Inbox sunset

A couple of weeks before the official sunset I’ve finally moved back to Gmail on all my devices.

I will for sure miss the much more modern interface and the easy grouping of Emails by topic!

Also, having a tight integration with Google Trips made my life much easier.

Apps come and go – I’ll miss that one, though, at least for a couple of weeks .

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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)

Think Article 13 will only affect Gen Z and YouTube?

The whole internet generation is up in arms – reason is article #13 of the revised EU Copyright Directive, due for final parliamentary vote late March.

In a nutshell, the directive will make all commercial platforms older than 3 years, that have “online content sharing” “liable for unauthorized acts of communication to the public of copyright protected works and other subject matter” (Quotes from https://juliareda.eu/2019/02/eu-copyright-final-text/).

This affects only (your) YouTube kids, right?

Unfortunately, not. Article 13 is not only about video – images, photos, music and texts are also copyright protected works (including this article, by the way).

Under the new regulation, _all_ sharing sites, and that includes professional networks such as LinkedIn or Xing, will become liable for copyright violations of their users and will have to take reasonable measures to prevent such violation to occur (hence the #uploadfilter).

Prior to publishing any user-generated content, any provider will have to make sure that the text, image or video does not contain any copyrighted material – if it fails to do that, it will open itself up for litigation (not mentioning the link tax here, for brevity and readability), which will pose a significant financial risk.

As an example, let’s look at this text: No platform whatsoever can determine for sure whether I have written this text myself (for the record: I did) or whether I copied it from one or more sources on the internet. The best option to avoid litigation thus is to disable uploads from users, and only buy content from well-known publishers.

That’s what everybody is afraid of – the end of user-generated content, the end of Social Media, and the end of professional networking sites.

Article 13 will not protect artists, and it will not do anything to help them secure an income from their work. This claim is being perpetuated by a lot of organizations, unfortunately it turns out to be false once you read the actual text of the directive; intention and execution seem to be quite a bit out of sync here.

We have only days, or possibly a couple of weeks left before the final vote, and we need to act now!

Convinced? Call your MEPs and help them make the right decision:

Not yet? Here are some more resources:

Thank you!

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(Image copyright by www.savetheinternet.info)