Guy In Charge Of Pushing Draconian EU Copyright Directive, Evasive About His Own Use Of Copyright Protected Images

from the do-as-I-say,-not-as-I-do? dept

There's one person who wields more power than anyone to shape the awful EU Copyright Directive: the MEP Axel Voss. He's the head of the main Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) that is steering the Directive through the European Parliament. Voss took over from the previous MEP leading JURI, Therese Comodini Cachia, after she decided to return to her native Malta as member of the national parliament. Her draft version of the Directive was certainly not perfect, but it did possess the virtue of being broadly acceptable to all sides of the debate. When Voss took over last year, the text took a dramatic turn for the worse thanks to the infamous "snippet tax" (Article 11 of the proposed Directive) and the "upload filter" (Article 13).

As Mike reported a couple of weeks ago, Voss offered a pretty poor defense of his proposals, showing little understanding of the Internet. But he made clear that he thinks respecting copyright law is really important. For example, he said he was particularly concerned that material is being placed online, where "there is no remuneration of the concerned author." Given that background, it will probably come as no surprise to Techdirt readers to learn that questions are now being asked whether Voss himself has paid creators for material that he has used on his social media accounts:

BuzzFeed News Germany ... looked at the posts from the past 24 months on Voss's social media channels. In the two years, BuzzFeed News has found at least 17 copyrighted images from at least eight different image agencies, including the German press agency dpa.

As good journalists, BuzzFeed News Germany naturally contacted Axel Voss to ask whether he had paid to use all these copyrighted images:

Since last Thursday, 5 July, BuzzFeed News Germany has asked Voss's office and his personal assistant a total of five times in writing and several times over the phone whether Axel Voss or his social media team has paid for the use of these copyrighted photos. Voss's staff responded evasively five times. Asked if the office could provide us with licensing evidence, the Voss office responded: "We do not provide invoices to uninvolved third parties."

Such a simple question -- had Voss paid for the images he used? -- and yet one that seemed so hard for the Voss team to answer, even with the single word "yes". The article (original in German) took screenshots of the images the BuzzFeed Germany journalists had found. That's just as well, because shortly afterwards, 12 of the 17 posts with copyrighted images had been deleted. The journalists contacted Axel Voss once more, and asked why they had disappeared (original in German). To which Axel Voss's office replied: anyone can add and remove posts, if they wish. Which is true, but fails to answer the question, yet again. However, Axel Voss's office did offer an additional "explanation":

according to the current legal situation (...), if the right-holder informs us that we have violated their rights, we remove the image in question according to the notice and takedown procedure of the e-commerce directive.

That is, Axel Voss, or his office, seems to believe it's fine to post copyrighted material online provided you take it down if someone complains. But that's not how it works at all. The EU notice and takedown procedure applies to the Internet services hosting material, not to the individual users of those services. The fact that the team of the senior MEP responsible for pushing the deeply-flawed Copyright Directive through the European Parliament is ignorant of the current laws is bad enough. That he may have posted copyrighted material without paying for it while claiming to be worried that creators aren't being remunerated for their work, is beyond ridiculous.

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  1. icon
    rw (profile), 16 Jul 2018 @ 9:26am

    Unpaid creators

    "That he may have posted copyrighted material without paying for it while claiming to be worried that creators aren't being remunerated for their work, is beyond ridiculous." - But not surprising.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Jul 2018 @ 9:38am

    “Restrictive copyright laws for thee, but not for me.” — Axel Voss, probably

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2018 @ 10:01am

    Proves for all past and future times that Techdirt supports copyright!

    Else why attack this person? And what better way than by re-writing a copyrighted piece which accuses though lacks any real evidence? And what better way to point up that Voss has no real understanding of how "teh internets" work than to slyly mock Buzzfeed for its childish attempt at a "gotcha" by writing a couple emails to some low-level person and then when don't get absolute confession, to claim it's proof of the accusations?

    Look, kids: whether Voss has borrowed some images or not -- which YOU claim is entirely legal until need to accuse of hypocrisy -- it doesn't affect the basic principles of copyright.

    Whoever created those images OWNS them, period. So too, only proportionately more, do the persons who paid for and created $100 million dollar movies own them, and have EXCLUSIVE RIGHT under all Western law to the profits. You pirates simply do NOT have ANY right to "copy" or "share".

    It'll take a while, but morality and law are both clear on copyright, so the looming regime will be put in place. And that despite all your childish snark and futile calling out of hypocrisy. You call yourself and are rightly called PIRATES: you are outside the law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2018 @ 10:03am

    Even further, if Voss' version of "notice and takedown" was the rule of law, he would be pushing a law that would cause his team to incur fines! Exception being that he has the right connections in IFPI and enough money to make it go away...

    Another tax on being poor, oh joy!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 16 Jul 2018 @ 10:07am

    Just more proof that hypocrisy is the norm in the way governments function.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2018 @ 10:21am

    Re: Proves for all past and future times that Techdirt supports copyright!

    I have some news for you. Those people pushing the copyright maximalist position have never created a work of their own, but rather bought up works, or paid other people to create works.

    The bulk of the works published on the Internet are published by individuals who wish to share their creativity, and are quite happy to have their woks shared.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Jul 2018 @ 10:50am

    Re:

    Look, kids: whether Voss has borrowed some images or not -- which YOU claim is entirely legal until need to accuse of hypocrisy -- it doesn't affect the basic principles of copyright.

    Two things.

    1. Condescension (e.g., “kids”) will not and does not bolster your argument.
    2. Voss’s use of the photos do not qualify as Fair Use under even the loosest standards; his hypocrisy is apparent in that he wants to tighten restrictions on copyright for everyone, but is more than willing to infringe upon the copyrights of others when it suits his needs.

    Whoever created those images OWNS them, period.

    Yes, and under your strict interpretation of copyright law, Voss should have paid the owners of those images for their usage. So far, nothing on the record shows that he did. I believe that would make him a “filthy pirate” if I use your lingo.

    So too, only proportionately more, do the persons who paid for and created $100 million dollar movies own them, and have EXCLUSIVE RIGHT under all Western law to the profits.

    Yes, they do. They are not entitled, however, to rip open my wallet and yank money from me because they made a movie. The creation of a work is not a free ticket to making money, nor should it be—in any way.

    morality and law are both clear on copyright

    The law has not yet clearly defined limits and scope for Fair Use, so you are wrong on that point. As for morality? The fact that current copyright law leans obscenely in favor of copyright holders (read: major media conglomerates) more than it balances the needs of both the creator and the general public (see: the disappearing public domain) puts that argument to rest.

    You call yourself and are rightly called PIRATES: you are outside the law.

    Then why are you hanging out on a site that sits outside the law?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Rico R, 16 Jul 2018 @ 10:52am

    Re: Proves for all past and future times that Techdirt supports copyright!

    I can't speak for Techdirt, but I can speak for myself. I support copyright. I support creators and pay for content whenever possible. What I don't support is using copyright law to censor others, or using it just to make sure they get as much money as humanly possible. So I guess you could say I'm against the current copyright regime as-is.

    It's funny how you fault both Techdirt and Buzzfeed of accusing someone of infringing copyright without lacking any real evidence because under the DMCA (and most notice-and-takedown procedures elsewhere), that's all that's needed to file a takedown request and remove content from the Internet. It doesn't matter if you had permission or a license. It doesn't matter if it was a fair use or a fair dealing. Baseless accusation in a takedown notice = content taken down.

    The hypocrisy highlighted here is that Voss took some images in a way that likely infringed copyright, but he wants everyone to either license the copyrighted work (which often means paying) or simply don't use the work. While we can debate as to whether or not it really is infringing or illegal, that doesn't factor into whether or not it's hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is simply the act of setting a set of rules for others and then you not following them yourself. Whether or not the act was illegal does not factor into whether it was hypocrisy or not.

    And since when does owning a copyright mean that you have the absolute right to all profits you can get from the copyrighted work? Copyright's purpose is to promote progress, to incentivize creators to create copyrightable works so that the public can use them down the road, not to make sure the creator gets a boatload of cash for any and all uses of their work. Unfortunately, thanks to corporate interests who think differently (especially one who thinks the public must NEVER own a certain cartoon mouse), copyright is lasting longer and is applied more strictly than ever before.

    What's worse is that you're attempting to say that any act of copying or sharing of copyrighted material is a form of piracy. That couldn't be further from the truth. Ever heard of fair use? You know, the most important exception that makes sure copyright doesn't infringe on free speech rights? And even if someone firmly believes their use is fair and a court disagrees, that doesn't make it piracy. In fact, grouping together all copying, infringing or otherwise, as "piracy" is very dangerous and does not bode well for those who make fair uses of copyrighted works.

    Finally, while the law may be clear on copyright, morality doesn't dictate it. Copyright infringement is not as clear-cut as morally wrong as, say, murder. Copyright isn't a divine right like free speech. In fact, many people who are for either copyright reform or copyright abolition are often fighting for it on moral grounds. And there are plenty of examples of being outside the law as morally right, even outside of copyright. Remember the US Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s? Many peaceful protests were illegal but moral. So, the fact that something is illegal does not automatically make it immoral.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2018 @ 10:56am

    i doubt if anyone is surprised by this. it's always the same old story, 'dont do what i do, do what i tell you'!!

    the EU is full of hypocrites, even more so than the USA Senate, and that's saying something!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 16 Jul 2018 @ 11:38am

    Re: Proves for all past and future times that Techdirt supports copyright!

    The hypocrisy is simple. Voss has stated that he believes all uses of content should be licensed, that there should be no fair use. That is why this use is highlighted, not because he fails to meet Techdirt's standards (expansive fair use), but because he is actively failing to meet his own standards, standards he is attempting to make law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 16 Jul 2018 @ 12:02pm

    Law, sin and rules are for other people

    This is something I've been keenly aware of since the Evangelists gave Trump a mulligan over the Stormy Daniels affair, that people (most evidently people with power) commonly disregard their own behavior or that of their friends and allies when they get all judgemental. And this is whether we're watching copyright-maximalist studios pirate freely for their own use (media definitely not their own), or US officials that condemn terrorists for massacring communities with suicide bombers yet at the same time endorse the massacre of communities by drone strikes with Hellfires.

    And it becomes conspicuous in sharp relief when double standards are held to with people able to enact force justified by those standards. California communities of (blanched Caucasian) Russian and Ukrainian immigrants (plenty of whom are undocumented) remain largely untouched by Trump's new zero-tolerance ICE raid, abduction, internment and forced-labor campaign.

    Law (at least in the US) isn't for the sake of preserving peace or sustaining justice and order, or improving society, but a justification to harass and assault undesirables. And day after day, I'm finding scant few examples that might suggest otherwise.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    ECA (profile), 16 Jul 2018 @ 12:42pm

    Strange aint it..

    For example, he said he was particularly concerned that material is being placed online, where "there is no remuneration of the concerned author."

    Lets ask a simple question..
    Snipit tax, and other parts, tend to be about NEWS and articles..
    When does NEWS belong to ANYONE??
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_agency
    This is a list of the Agencies AROUND the world..
    And yes, you can PAY for their services, and even COpy SOME of the articles..

    The question is, ARE THESE FOLKS COMPLAINING?? Or is it the little/smaller distributing services??
    If its the small companies..GOOGLe can go direct and DUMP all of them by creating ITS OWN SERVICE, and Pay the bigger agencies..

    So Who is going to win/lose in this??
    NOT the smaller companies..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2018 @ 6:55pm

    Re:

    There once was an out of the blue
    Who hated the process of due
    Each image he'd paid
    Was DMCAed
    And shoved up his ass with a screw

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 16 Jul 2018 @ 7:29pm

    Looks like it's another day ending in Y...

    At this point it's all but a given that anyone pushing for laws like this will be found to be in violation of the very standards they've set, it's simply a matter of time.

    It would be nice if they would acknowledge their gross hypocrisy and realize that the standards they demand for everyone else are absurd and/or unrealistic, though I suspect they brush it aside as 'just an accident'(if that) and carry on, same as before.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    PaulT (profile), 17 Jul 2018 @ 3:04am

    Re: Re:

    "The creation of a work is not a free ticket to making money, nor should it be—in any way."

    I'm always fascinated by his attitude on this, if only because it means that somehow "artists" (which in his mind seems to mean "major corporations") are entitled to a profit for the mere act of making something.

    It doesn't work like that anywhere else. The majority of products fail, in any sector. The majority of businesses fail, in any sector. If you fail to correct market your product, you fail. If you fail to correctly control your initial costs, you fail. If you enter a crowded marketplace with a product that doesn't appeal to the relevant customer base, you fail.

    But, in his mind, if someone decides to wank away $100 million on a movie nobody wants to watch, then . everybody should be forced to pay for it, whether they watched it or not. Oh, and, should that cause other businesses to fail as a result of stealing this income from others, that's just acceptable collateral damage. As long as the corporation gets its wasted money back, it doesn't matter who else suffers, even actual artists.

    "As for morality?"

    Trying to argue morality on this issue is generally going to be a failure on any level, I think. On a moral level, there's no difference between borrowing a copy of a friend's DVD to watch a movie without paying for it, and downloading a DVD rip of said movie to watch once without paying for it. The scope might be different, but to the average person there's not a great deal.

    This is why there's been such a hard push for terminology to be misused. Even though the act fits the definition of "sharing", nobody sees sharing as morally wrong. "Copying" is also accurate, but most people grew up committing infringement by copying tracks to other media or mixtapes, recording from the radio etc., and so won't buy that this is suddenly wrong because it's online. They have to have the word "theft" or "stealing" associated in order to try and shift the conversation - and they fail at achieving this with anyone with common sense.

    There's been an entire industry of libraries and second hand book stores in existence for decades, but nobody accused them of theft. I believe that what changed is that the visibility of this activity has greatly increased, while the weak artificial barriers to stop people from accessing what they actually want have crumbled. The fix, as always, is to supply the latter, not to criminalise basic human behaviour.

    Whatever this fool claims, the things that always seem to work are things that allow more available paid access to content, not trying desperately to shut down the free outlets.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2018 @ 3:31am

    Re: Re: Re:

    not trying desperately to shut down the free outlets.

    When a corporation can only produce a few hours of video a day, the 500 hours plus a minute being uploaded to YouTube looks like a major threat. Piracy is the means by which they hope to stem that flood, by making the legal risk of missing and infringing upload so high that the sites cannot function without becoming publishers themselves, and damming up that flood.

    Piracy itself is not doing them a lot of damage, and maybe is a minor benefit, but those self publishers are stealing away their audience and income.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2018 @ 3:59pm

    "Do as I say, not as I do!"
    Works for Don the Con, so why not this a--hole?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 20 Jul 2018 @ 6:04am

    Now, now, Glyn, didn't you know? Rules are for the little folk, i.e. you and I. Big fish like Voss are above the law. Rules, even the ones they make themselves, don't apply to them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 20 Jul 2018 @ 6:07am

    Re: Proves for all past and future times that Techdirt supports copyright!

    Blue, RE: your mad comments:

    Whoever created those images OWNS them, period. So too, only proportionately more, do the persons who paid for and created $100 million dollar movies own them, and have EXCLUSIVE RIGHT under all Western law to the profits. You pirates simply do NOT have ANY right to "copy" or "share".

    Then neither does Axel Voss. No exceptions.

    It'll take a while, but morality and law are both clear on copyright, so the looming regime will be put in place.

    To the detriment of one Axel "filthy pirate kid" Voss, MEP. We can only hope.

    And that despite all your childish snark and futile calling out of hypocrisy. You call yourself and are rightly called PIRATES: you are outside the law.

    As is Axel Voss MEP, by your metric. Whether he has borrowed some images or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 20 Jul 2018 @ 7:11am

    Re: Law, sin and rules are for other people

    [Sad but True]

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    Bergman (profile), 20 Jul 2018 @ 9:46pm

    Re: Law, sin and rules are for other people

    The main difference between the 9/11/2001 attacks and a drone strike is courage. A drone operator doesn't put his/her life on the line to blow something up. By that standard, they rate lower than almost any terrorist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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