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.

Filed Under: article 11, article 13, axel voss, bias, corruption, eu copyright directive, eu parliament, julia reda, propaganda
Companies: afp

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  1. identicon
    Filipescu Mircea Alexandru, 8 Mar 2019 @ 6:26pm

    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.

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