Why Does MEP Axel Voss Keep Lying About Article 13?

from the a-simple-question dept

It’s been really quite incredible to see MEP Axel Voss — the main EU Parliament cheerleader for Articles 11 and 13 — making the rounds over the past few weeks to insist that all the complaints about the EU Copyright Directive are wrong. Just last week we saw him make incredibly misleading statements about which platforms were impacted by the law, leaving out that the minor exemption only applied to companies less than three years old. And now, his political group in the Parliament, EPP, has put out an astoundingly misleading interview with Voss, which makes claims that make me wonder if he even knows what’s in Article 13.

If you can’t watch the video (which has English subtitles, as Voss is speaking in German), here’s what he says, with my commentary on just how wrong he is in between each sentence.

This reform will not lead to a kind of censorship or more filters.

This is an astounding level of ignorance on so many levels. It absolutely will lead to both of those things, and anyone arguing otherwise it is either intellectually dishonest or totally ignorant. If a platform already has filters — like ContentID — it will still face increasing liability (as Voss admits in a moment) meaning that they will tighten those filters up even more to let less through. Already as we’ve seen with ContentID and other such filters, they lead to quite a bit of censorship. So, we already know that filters create censorship and if these filters will now need to be even more strict, by definition it will lead to more censorship.

And it will absolutely lead to more filters, because the law requires filters for nearly every platform. It won’t necessarily lead to new filters for the companies that already have them, but it will for lots of other companies. How can he possibly deny that?

What we want is what already exists

Hi, Mr. Voss, a question please: if it already exists, why do you need a new law?

… which is what the European Court of Justice has already ruled

Yeah, same question. If the EU Court of Justice has already said this is the case, then… why do you need a new law that will fundamentally change basically the entire open internet?

… and online platforms have already put into practice.

No. Some online platforms — namely Google and Facebook — have already put this into practice. Most others that will be impacted by this law do not have filters in place. This site, Techdirt, accepts users’ comments. We are older than 3 years old so not exempted from this law. Do I need to go buy a filter to block out copyright-covered works from being posted in the comments?

Again, Voss has this issue: he’s clearly trying to tax Google and Facebook to pay his supporters in the news and entertainment industry. We get that. But notice the ridiculous two-step that Voss constantly does. When it’s convenient to play down the impact of this, he uses Google and Facebook as if they represent the entire internet. But when people point out that those are just two platforms out of many, he then points to the very minor exemptions, which don’t apply to nearly every other platform. Meaning that they are all going to need to buy filters, even if filters don’t make any sense, or shut down in Europe.

… meaning that this will not go beyond what is currently in place and things will largely remain as they are now.

Okay, so why do you need a law? If this doesn’t change anything and doesn’t go beyond what is currently in place, why is a new law needed? And, if this is really only about stopping bad behavior from Google and Facebook (while you admit that they already do what you want), why are you forcing it on the entire internet?

None of the logic here makes any sense.

The only difference is that platforms will be required to pay closer attention to which content is copyright protected and they have to compensate creators of that content more fairly.

The “only” at the beginning of that sense is carrying an awful lot of water for Voss here. Again, “paying closer attention” means ratcheting up the triggers on the filters, which by definition means greater censorship — the very thing Voss just insisted seconds earlier wouldn’t happen. It’s almost as if he has not the first clue about how any of this works.

Second, the entire argument again seems to be based on the false belief that the entire internet is Google and Facebook, while admitting that those companies mostly already do what the law says — and yet, magically, because of this law, they’ll suddenly “compensate creators more fairly.”

Third, what the hell does “more fairly” mean in any of this? This line keeps getting used by Voss and other supporters, and none of them choose to define “more fairly” other than that it means “give much more money to the record labels.” And that’s what this is actually about. It’s shaking down successful internet companies to give that money to less successful record labels. If Voss were honest, he’d just admit that.

Instead, he has to play this charade, where he makes these ridiculous and easily debunked statements to support an unconscionable law that will lead to massive internet censorship and change the very fundamental nature of the internet itself. Voss has been making these kinds of statements for the past year now. It’s shameful that more people don’t challenge him on these obviously misleading statements every time he makes them.

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Comments on “Why Does MEP Axel Voss Keep Lying About Article 13?”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'Why Does MEP Axel Voss Keep Lying About Article 13?'

Is that a rhetorical question? Because the answer is blindly obvious from where I’m sitting, and applies to him and all the others like him to keep making blatantly false arguments and claims: Because it’s impossible to defend it honestly, and he(and others like him) is so contemptuous of the public that he has no problem lying straight to people’s faces if it means getting what he wants.

This is an astounding level of ignorance on so many levels


The time for ‘maybe he doesn’t understand what he’s talking about’ benefit of the doubt is well past. At best he’s grossly incompetent in not doing the slightest bit of research into a bill he’s heavily supported, but far more likely is that he’s not being ‘ignorant’ when he makes blatantly incorrect statements, he’s being dishonest, and deserves to be called out as the liar he is every single time he does it.

Instead, he has to play this charade, where he makes these ridiculous and easily debunked statements to support an unconscionable law that will lead to massive internet censorship and change the very fundamental nature of the internet itself.

And again, no.

He does not ‘have to’ lie to people’s faces and make dishonest arguments, he chooses to. No one is forcing him to lie and engage in dishonest tactics, so I see no reason to soften the language describing such acts in any way. He does not ‘have to’ lie, he deliberately chooses to lie.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'Why Does MEP Axel Voss Keep Lying About Article 13?'

Unfortunately the EU commission consists almost exclusively of people who make Ajit Pai the more honest comparison. You can tell he’s been bought and by whom.

Whereas the EU commission…honestly, there have been commissioners demanding no PC should be without direct government supervision – the "black box" initiative.
Not "bought". Just a control freak taking it as a personal offense that people could speak where he could not listen.

It’s difficult to say why Voss keeps shitting on people in the condescending, brazenly untruthful way he does. Hanlon’s razor has him simply parroting what someone else told him in naíve innocence over the fact that none of what he states is true.

Whether he’s being a stubborn idiot in good faith or a deliberately malicious liar he clearly isn’t fit to hold a job more demanding in moral or mental values than that of a sanitation engineer employed to clean public streets.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: 'Why Does MEP Axel Voss Keep Lying About Article 13?'

I have to wonder if he’s just a sock puppet.

He doesn’t know what’s in it, he doesn’t care. He’s no different than a TV talking head or paid spokesman. Someone else is giving him his marching orders, and he’s just the public face of an oligarch somewhere.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m beginning to think we need to start electing younger people to office, people with a better understanding of how the world actually works now. These nigh elderly politicians still seem to think the world works as it did 30 years ago and have been unable to come to terms with progress. Perhaps wisdom of age doesn’t have the value it once did. I myself have passed the half-century mark but at least I keep up with technology and the world, being in the fast-moving software industry. Still, I think I’d rather elect my kids into office over any of my contemporaries.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Because the younger gen is immune to corruption?"

They are less likely to accept that was a norm half a century ago is a good thing only based on it having been the norm when contemporary technology did not offer better options.

The younger generation is harder to convince to act the part of a soviet commissar, defending the status quo at ALL cost.

I’d claim that corruption is, by far, a lesser problem than incompetence. A corrupt yet competent office holder might embezzle money in return for favors. the inept one could burn down an entire national industry out of well-intended ideological lunacy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

These nigh elderly politicians still seem to think the world works as it did 30 years ago

As "That One Guy" said, a lack of understanding is not the problem. There have been examples of American politicians who aren’t young but still act reasonably and try to represent people rather than corporations. Politicians can certainly try to learn about the stuff they’re regulating; the good ones hire aides and advisors with relevant expertise.

David says:

Re: Re:

I’m beginning to think we need to start electing younger people to office, people with a better understanding of how the world actually works now.

You mean people retaining some noble illusions of how the world actually works now.

Only a small fraction of people are experts on any given matter, and bullshitting half the people gives you a majority. You just need to project authority.

anymouse says:

Why? Because that's what he's paid to say

Come on, well know that MEP’s are really just the "Most Expensive Purchases" of the entertainment industries, and they can’t be bothered to say anything other than what they have been paid to say.

What’s the saying, you can’t make a man understand the law when his paycheck relies on not understanding the law….

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"If he’s really that unaware then he has the IQ of a muffin."

Here’s a story from the EU bureaucracy. Back a few years when belgium was in financial trouble, schools were closing everywhere, and basic education declining was in every paper as a national crisis, brussels started building a multi-billion project school intended exclusively for the children of the EU bureaucrats.

Confronted with the concept that the average belgian didn’t like EU bureaucrats very much because of that and assorted other "benefits", the bureaucracy started lobbying for a "citizen-free zone" around all EU buildings and bureaucracy housing in order to ensure the EU high elite wouldn’t have to rub shoulders with the ungrateful sheeple of the citizenry.

THAT is the general view and mental calibre of an EU bureaucrat.

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche…

Anonymous Coward says:

The only difference is that platforms will be required to pay closer attention to which content is copyright protected and they have to compensate creators of that content more fairly.

Almost all content is copyright protected, and the creators are a significant part of the worlds population, so just how do they claim their fair compensation?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Don’t be silly these new rights only apply to ‘Approved’ Creators, smaller indie content creators will be in the same situation indie bands found themselves in where they were forced to pay licensing fees on blank media when burning their own songs to CD to sell and also had to pay the license fee for performing their own songs in pubs/clubs, but at the same time weren’t eligible to claim any royalties from the collection agencies they had to pay to use their own songs.

Though this will be even worse for Article 11, considering it now applies to anyone linking to a news story, so for this to work there needs to be some kind of list of ‘real’ news sites that this applies to as the current definition is vague, as at the moment it’s not clear if sites such as techdirt can demand payment for being linked to. (I wonder how long it will take copyright trolls to latch onto this as a new way to extort people…)

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"The anti-copyright movement seems desperate. They must be about to lose, badly, and deservedly."


If article 13 passes the first and hardest hit victims will be legitimate copyright holders.

We on the anti-copyright or outright pro-pirate side aren’t affected at all by article 13. Nothing it will do can affect ANY of the venues we didn’t already abandon 20 years ago.

The people you see protesting article 13 here are those guys concerned about the legitimate businesses online, and those who still have some sympathy for what article 13 will do to the main majority of artists and creators. Ah, I still remember when I had that sympathy as well…

…but since i’m frankly out of f*cks to give about artists and creators getting absolutely reamed by legislation they’ve been too dumb to oppose i as a pure anti-copyright advocate, no longer consider myself to have much of a dog in this fight. Article 13 offends my sensibilities but that’s as far as it can annoy me.

You, on the other hand, are cheering every step of the way for an article of legislation which will screw every artists unable to be accepted as an indentured serf to the likes of Sony and BMG. Shows pretty much where you stand.
The only question remaining is whether you’re deliberately being a douchebag or simply deluded.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"ISPs will terminate accounts of people who visit these sites or the EU will just shut it down directly."

Nope and nope.

Again, neither of those actions will be performed by article 13.

Youtube, Vimeo and Vevo will be up shit creek which is a bit sad for any major media label using any of those as a cheap way of launching ads and video demos. To say nothing of independents who will be screwed in major ways.

What you claim, though, is like saying that an unreasonable traffic law mandating every car wheel must be square will somehow prevent pub brawls.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Sites that link to it will be cut off."


Article 13 won’t impact TPB. Not even in its most draconian form.
It won’t impact sites linking to or outright informing of TPB’s address.

And even if Article 13 did either of those it’s very very doubtful whether pirates would even notice if the largely dysfunctional and obsolete dinosaur which is TPB’s open URL (or other centralized index pages) was permanently parked in the museum where it has, by now, earned a top spot.

What article 13 will do is simple – it will jeopardize any LEGITIMATE platforms trying to carry actual copyright holders because any uploaded video or audio stream will carry a disproportionate cost and risk for the platform owner.

So the only victims of article 13 will be legitimate artists. Generally speaking anyone trying to create anything will find their right to publish themselves will be jeopardized by – copyright law.

That’s delicious irony which is why I, being staunchly anti-copyright and pro-pirate, am quite torn between objecting to Article 13 over moral grounds, or supporting it wholesale because it will burn to the ground anyone and anything even remotely associated with copyrights in the EU online environment.

I believe a few years of all europeans having to do like the germans in the recent past and obtain most online streaming experiences via VPN from outside europe will do quite well to ensure the future holds far less fervor to defend the concept of "copyright".

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Read a few of your comments.
I don’t really disagree with you. your opinion seems to at least be thought out. However I have the audacity to suggest that while your beliefs may be thought out (thus following some logic), I personally have never obversed there to exist a compelling reason why human behavior must be logical.

Thus I fear the end may be somewhere beyond the ‘horizon’ of mad devotion to copyrightism (incidently some theories, with varying levels of crediblity suggest that humans tend to worship something, even aethists…. maybe the abstract of copyright if the ‘god’ of some people, to which they have devoted their lives and souls.)

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What specific language in Article 13 directly addresses illicit filesharing in particular and copyright infringement in general, such that the implementation of Article 13 will directly target “piracy” and avoid causing collateral damage to activities that are currently legal under EU law? Make sure to cite the actual language of Article 13 alongside your interpretation of it. A single sentence without any citations (e.g., “pirates will run afoul of the licensing provisions of Article 13”) is not an acceptable answer.

(In other words: Answer the question as if you were in a college classroom instead of on a preschool playground.)

Anonymous Coward says:

It leads to both new censorship and new filters by design.

The EU project is a Procrustean bed, and the articles are another tool with which to stretch or cut the legs off any to fit the precise length mandated.

Totalitarian rule. Human rights are violated daily under the current order. The articles strengthen the case of illegitimate government.

ECA (profile) says:

Dear Mr. Voss.

Because the NAtion/state/county inst going to make money from any of this, WHY do you eve care?
Only those that are going to make money WANT this. Who are the biggest complainers? Who is bitching the most?? WHO is paying you to say stupid things a 12 year old could think around, and tell you WHY only a few corps are going to get anything out of this.
I wonder sometimes if I could goto another country and get away from the BS happening in the USA…and I come to the conclusion…NOPE. All sides are being paid off to be STUPID.. And when you leave office they will find a few others to do the same thing. BECAUSE, the few are gaining the most form a stupid law..

Anonymous Coward says:

You know. I want to see Facebook and Google do a one day blackout. Where they just block all of Europe, and let the EU members see what the kind of backlash will be. Honestly, it’d be cheaper for Google and Facebook to go one day without those ads, than to do what the law is demanding they do in the scope of just hand over free money.

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