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:
I know now how the @europarl_EN came to publish an extremely biased video for the #copyright reform. The good news, it doesn't look like the administration deliberately tried to manipulate the public debate. What actually happened is equally worrying, though:#SaveyourInternet pic.twitter.com/PfcfGI5xOM— Julia Reda (@Senficon) March 7, 2019
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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