EU Parliament Paid News Publisher AFP To Create Bogus Propaganda Video In Favor Of EU Copyright Directive

from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept

So we recently wrote about the bizarre situation in the EU whereby the EU Parliament’s official Twitter feed had tweeted a pure propaganda video in support of the EU Copyright Directive. This was weird on many levels. First of all, the Copyright Directive has not yet been voted upon, and you would think that the EU Parliament itself should be neutral on the question of whether or not a law should be passed — especially one with as much controversy as the Copyright Directive. Second, the video was filled with a bunch of blatantly false information (mostly from MEP Axel Voss). It’s one thing for the EU Parliament to be promoting a specific outcome on a legislative vote, and it’s another altogether to support that with false information delivered by just one MEP. Does the EU Parliament do this on other issues as well? The third oddity, is that the video certainly looked very professionally produced, raising questions of just who put it together.

MEP Julia Reda used her position as an MEP to ask those questions of the Parliament and now has the answer. The EU Parliament — for reasons that are still unclear — paid Agence France Press (AFP) to produce the video:

AFP, of course, is a giant publisher that stands to potentially benefit from Article 11 in particular. And, apparently, AFP has been one of the more aggressive lobbying organizations in Brussels pushing for Article 11. Hell, all the way back in 2005, AFP actually sued Google for linking to its stories (spoiler alert: it did not win). So for the EU Parliament to then use public funds to ask a clearly interested party to produce a propaganda video seems highly questionable. This is the akin to say, the US Congress asking Pfizer to produce a video that will go out under “Congress” official imprimatur, about prescription drug pricing. That would be a scandal. Yet, in the EU, not too many officials seem particularly bothered by this.

Of course, it should be noted that AFP does not exactly have the greatest track record on copyright itself. In 2010, the company was caught having used someone’s photo of the earthquake aftermath in Haiti without licensing, and when called on it, AFP sued the photographer with a bizarre argument that anything that was posted to Twitter was free for anyone to use (no, really). Eventually, AFP was forced to pay out $1.2 million for that debacle. You’d think that experience might make the company a little more careful about supporting extremist copyright positions, but for some reason in the copyright debates, the maximalists never think the law will seriously apply back to them.

Meanwhile, instead, AFP is publishing hysterically misleading articles (that feed out to various licensees of AFP content) all about how evil Google is actively lobbying over Article 11. No, really. While (at least) the AFP article notes that AFP supports Article 11, it leaves out its active participation in the lobbying effort — including the creation of the aforementioned video, framing the entire story about how big bad Google is doing all the lobbying over the law.

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Comments on “EU Parliament Paid News Publisher AFP To Create Bogus Propaganda Video In Favor Of EU Copyright Directive”

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FlatZOut (profile) says:

This Feels Very Similar. And I don’t Like It.

Seeing how the European Union is ignoring the will of the people feels very similar to what happened with the FCC. If you remember, FCC’s Ajit Pai ignored millions of outcries and was hellbent on repealing Net Neutrality, because ISPs were whining that they weren’t getting enough money. Without Net Neutrality, our internet would turn into a highway traffic where our internet would be throttled and tampered with.

Similarily, Axel Voss and those supporting this wretched Article 13 are being “seduced” by big media companies that are whining because they don’t have enough money. And just like Ajit Pai, they also decieved the public and ignored the will of its people. It really makes me think that there’s a bigger picture to this. And the fact that they’re calling us “brainwashed” makes it more likely that the EU is the one being brainwashed.

(By the way, I apologize if there are Misspellings on this comment. I upgraded to an iPhone XR, and it did not make it easier to type.)

FlatZOut (profile) says:

Re: Re: This Feels Very Similar. And I don’t Like It.

“If the title to this story is true, it smells like someone needs to change the grease in the fryer”

To be honest, I don’t quite understand what ‘changing the grease in the fryer” is supposed to imply. Today’s my first say on Techdirt (though I have read articles about this Copyright Directive controversy), so I am kind of new to this whole ‘putting my opinion for millions to see’ thing.

But if I’m correct (which I’m probably not) about what you’re saying, then it probably would be more fair if the governments listened to the truth that big companies shouldn’t control what the government does, and that the government shouldn’t ignore the people they’re supposed to govern.

And i know that there are more than two sides to every argument, and I respect that. And I don’t plan on hurting anyone’s feelings.

TFG says:

Re: Re: Re: This Feels Very Similar. And I don’t Like It.

"Changing the grease in the fryer" is likely an idiom for replacing the people who are currently in the EU Parliament.

The act of frying causes bits of food to get separated from food you put into the deep fryer. Those bits don’t all get removed when you take the food out, so as the grease in a deep fryer gets used, it collects more and more bits of food. Eventually, you have to clean it out, because it’s nasty.

FlatZOut (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 This Feels Very Similar. And I don’t Like

Thanks, TFG. That makes sense now.

Let’s hope that those MEPs who pledged to reject the new Copyright Directive stay true to their word. They probably only pledged this just to get the public to stop nagging at them. And if that’s true, then we could be in trouble.

And to be honest, I’m typing this in bed because I currently am feeling sick. My voice lost many octaves recently and I have been having a dry mouth feeling. Not even water could rid that feeling.

FlatZOut (profile) says:

Re: Re: Abolish Copyright

Indeed the Copyright is an abomination. An abomination made by an abomination. I may live in America, but I don’t want the EU censoring the world’s internet.

It already is worse. Many different countries are shutting down the internet so that nobody can access them. Trump stated during his campaign that he wanted to close/ban the internet. Ajit Pai repeals Net Neutrality, and now the EU is planning on removing every bit of data and content off of the internet.

There are at least two things that could be going on:

  1. The governments could be planning a Third World War and they don’t want people to find out (North Korea and Trump’s talks didn’t end well at all)
  2. There’s a bigger plan hiding in the shadows.
nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Abolish Copyright

I don’t drink wine or beer anyways. I’m only 19 years old and in my second semester in College.

Ah, if there’s one thing 19 year old college students are well known for, it’s being sober and never breaking any laws, especially drinking age and drug laws.

(this is a joke in case the sarcasm is intercepted by my keyboard)

FlatZOut (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Abolish Copyright

Actually nasch, I actually am 19 years old. My birthday typically isn’t till December.

Also, I don’t drink wine or beer because I ain’t taking any risks. Being a student at Pittsburgh Technical College showed me what responsibility is, and honestly, it does good. Thankfully with the Critical Thinking class I have, I will be able to analyze the reasons, fallacies, and form conclusions easier and thorough than before.

No offense btw.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Abolish Copyright

"Aliens? Really? Is that supposed to be a Simpsons reference?"

You will find that Techdirt is haunted by one very persistent troll who keeps popping up every time the topic even remotely touches on "copyright".

And one of his regular sticks is to every now and then run an "out there" one-liner so he can provoke a response and marginalize the respondee.

You’ll get to know him if you stick around – we have many names for him, since every actual nick he tries to use gets banned right quick which means he’s stuck posting as an "anonymous coward" (AC).

Personally I like to refer to him as Baghdad Bob, as a salute to his posting style in his previous incarnation as "Bobmail". Others call him out_of_the_blue, Hamilton, jhon, blue, etc, depending on under which nick they got to know him first.

His main hobby appears to be e-mail address lists and dreaming of the soon-to-come day when his raging hate-boner will be satisfied by the lamentations of a few million pirates being carted off in chains.

FlatZOut (profile) says:

Re: That has to be a conflict of interest

“The government doesn’t seem to care that it is promoting things that would harm citizens”

That seems to be happening way too often these past years. The Net Neutrality repeal occurred despite millions of people arguing against the repeal. And I think that it gave many governments the wrong idea and they too are ignoring their own citizens’ rights.

Anonymous Coward says:


So, the EU parliament is paying the company who is paying lobbyists to lobby for their position to make propoganda to support their position.


This payment to make the video is obviously immoral. Is it illegal?

I bloody well hope so, and if not, the damn parliamentarians should be drafting such laws. How about the "You cant use public funds to lobby for laws Act" or the "Corruption is a bad look Act".

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wot?

So, the EU parliament is paying the company who is paying lobbyists to lobby for their position to make propoganda to support their position.

This leads us to a possible FOIA-type request: a list of all instances in which the EU parliament paid third-parties for documents, videos, etc. in relation to proposed laws. Wikipedia says one has to be a citizen or resident of Europe to make such a request, and my paperwork hasn’t come through yet; any volunteers?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Wot?

"This payment to make the video is obviously immoral. Is it illegal? "

Probably. Mind you, the EU commission hasn’t given a single fuck about what is illegal in the past, why should they start now?

With ACTA they actually tried to get MEP’s to sign NDA’s around the treaty the parliament was supposed to sign as a condition for allowing the MEP’s to actually READ the damn thing first.

Yes, you got that right. The EU parliament was supposed to vote on an international treaty without being shown what was in it. Or, if they were shown, to sign a document forbidding them to tell the citizenry what was in the treaty. Which is, incidentally, illegal to even ask of an EU parliamentary member.

They also tried to push the ACTA signing as a last minute surprise into a parliamentary session which was about north sea cod fishing quotas, to ensure only the bought stooges would be present to vote.

Immoral? That doesn’t really cover it. The EU commission is more or less made of Trumps.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And of course the other side NEVER engages in that.
Masnick just publishes a zillion articles against Article 13 because he’s passionate about the issue, not because he’s being paid by anyone to do so.

The other side is not the FRICKIN’ government you dumb shit. The fact that you can’t see the difference tells me you are just plain stupid!!!


Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And of course the other side NEVER engages in that.

Help me out here. Are you saying that the EU Parliament is on one side of this debate? That would be odd, given that it’s supposed to be the neutral legislative body, where the members themselves decide which laws to support and which to reject — not for the body itself to pay for one side to advocate for the law.

Masnick just publishes a zillion articles against Article 13 because he’s passionate about the issue

Well, yeah, that is why I write a bunch of articles about it. And also because I know it will impact lots of the internet I love, including probably Techdirt’s ability to function in the EU.

But, either way, that’s besides the point. Whether or not I have a viewpoint, I would NEVER expect "CONGRESS" as an entity to promote one of my articles, and would find it problematic if it did. Yes I’m advocating for the position I think is right, and others will advocate for their position. That’s fine. But I would never ever expect the legislative body as a whole to endorse one position or the other, before its members have even voted on it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Given who you associate with (the people I’m here to track, actually), and against your other claims, you are either extremely disingenuous, or about the lowest-IQ individual on the planet.

While I could dump the results of a multiyear internet investigation in which your name kept turning up, this really isn’t the place to have this out. Others seem to have found the bread crumbs anyway, albeit much slowly, and I have a general aversion to duplication of effort. Who YOU are really isn’t relevant, but as for your friends? Their future is extremely bleak.

For all I know you might be the one to bring them down. I never draw conclusions. At this point the die is well-cast for certain individuals. Someday the truth will out.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh noes, more vague insinuations of ‘investigations’ and empty mutterings of how any day now ‘the truth will out’ and terrible things will happen, I’m sure that’ll keep Mike awake at night.

Really, do you even take yourself seriously, because I can all but guarantee no-one else does, leaving you nothing but a public laughingstock. Still though, thanks for another laugh, you’re at least good for that consistently.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Given who you associate with (the people I’m here to track, actually)…"

Because having an opinion which isn’t yours is a criminal offense? Or did you just admit to being a creepy sort of stalker?

"While I could dump the results of a multiyear internet investigation in which your name kept turning up…"

So a publication opposed to your particular brand of insanity merits a "multi-year investigation" in your book. Vaguely amusing, Baghdad bob, but it still doesn’t trump your previous attempts at comedy.

"…Who YOU are really isn’t relevant, but as for your friends? Their future is extremely bleak."

Yes, yes, because we don’t share your opinions and call you a liar we’re all going to burn in hell…or, according to you, carted off by unnamed agencies murkily associated with law enforcement.

"For all I know you might be the one to bring them down. I never draw conclusions. At this point the die is well-cast for certain individuals. Someday the truth will out."

Again with the assumption that people here are somehow hardened criminals for really not agreeing with you. Gosh.

I’m still not sure what you’ve been smoking to come up with these thoughts, but seriously, that la-la land of dancing hate-boners you’re writing from can’t be very good for you.

Filipescu Mircea Alexandru says:

The EU is out of control

We’ve been screaming for ages about corruption being out of control in Europe: There are no more rules for those who run us, everyone does whatever they want, any standard or procedure is stepped on and violated if it opposes their backdoor interests. Even citizens are now treated as the enemy when we get in their way… we’re being openly insulted (called “the mob” or bots built by Google) directly by EU representatives and institutions, people who were supposed to even remotely represent us!

Despite this happening out in the open and most of us seeing it, nobody steps in to do anything. They own the whole system, no one can fairly investigate let alone punish them, they are completely unaccountable. This is no democracy, this is a dictatorship trying its darn best to look like a democracy! Why is no one helping us and doing anything? Are we supposed to flee our countries that we lived our entire lives in? We don’t want to become the next Russia or China, they’re crazy if they think we will accept that.

The copyright directive is partly intended to set a precedent for mass censorship, normalizing the use of filters to ban content. We already have proof of this: Following closely behind is another law known as terreg, which aims to force websites to use the same filters to censor speech deemed terrorist or hateful, which can encompass anything the state doesn’t like. Meanwhile Britain is stepping as low as using laughable excuses like kids watching porn (I kid you not) to criminalize online anonymity and make people show ID to even interact on social media. Some institutions in France and Germany already suggested banning Tor, which may pave the way to criminalizing software including open source programming in the future.

We’re hoping that America will step in and not allow the situation to degenerate: It would be crazy for US intelligence to not be on our case or to accept this. What Europe does will affect the US and the rest of the world too: No one will escape an attack on the internet in such an inter-connected world! We’re in this together and must all do our part to stop what’s happening.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: The EU is out of control

"It feels a lot like a Rapture more than anything."

Not any more than any of the other crisis situations democracy’s been experiencing over the last few centuries.

We don’t have a full-on world war complete with concentration camps, use of weapons of mass destruction, the burning of entire continents…
…nor do we have an era of actual slavery followed by excruciating civil wars engulfing continents…
…nor do we have the fall of most of civilization due to invading barbarian hordes.

The truth is that we aren’t in such a bad state. We are in a decidedly petty state where, despite the world as a whole being in a relatively good place, we keep seeing governments led by misfit clowns we couldn’t trust to organize a drinking game in a pub.

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