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.

Filed Under: article 13, axel voss, censorship, copyright, eu, eu copyright directive, filters, free speech
Companies: facebook, google

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  1. icon
    Thad (profile), 5 Mar 2019 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re:

    No, they're just likelier to have a much different opinion on copyright than their elders.

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