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Leaked document shows EU copyright companies plan to publicly smear tech companies in order to influence them

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The European Union (EU) adopted its new Copyright Directive in the spring, to much controversy and criticism, and online and street protests.

The issue those strongly opposed to the new law took with it was the threat it poses to the structure and usefulness of the internet, and the freedoms, such as they are, that we enjoy online. For example, the directive mandates content upload filters and allows news publishers to ban links to their websites from appearing in search results.

In addition, the Directive is at its very core an ambiguous piece of legislation, that different people interpret to mean different things – and different EU-member states will likely do the same once they implement it.

And more challenges to the internet might be arising indirectly informed by the directive. The directive as a win for publishers against Big Tech companies, who previously defeated them in the digital market.

Many might think that European publishing behemoths, like Axel Springer, and the likes of Google are just as bad as each other. Germany’s Netzpolitk website recently published a leaked document, highlights the perceived hypocrisy and ill-intent of the former, referred to them as “copyright companies.”

…politicians at national and European level, as well as officials and judges who have to make decisions and judgments against the five digital monopolists Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, need to be supported indirectly. The successful enforcement of our rights as broadcasters and press publishers depends on precisely these authorities and court decisions (Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, EU Competition Commission and [Court of Justice of the European Union], Regional and Higher Regional Courts). The importance of continued information to the wider public has been demonstrated by the adoption of the EU Copyright Directive.

Here are the specific goals and how the copyright companies hope to achieve them:

Objective: To influence the formation of public opinion on dealing with digital monopolists and the resulting indirect training of officials, politicians, judges and decision-makers to make judgments and decisions that ensure that the digital monopolists once more comply with the law. That is: antitrust law, data protection law, laws protecting children and adolescents, tax law, equality laws and the protection of intellectual property.

Selected path: The concerns of originators and their copyright holders, composers, music and press publishers, authors as well as broadcasters and their individual authors, are mentioned, but not highlighted. This problem is presented as one of many, perhaps even larger ones. Only in this way we avoid the comment of critics that we are only concerned with the economic interests of our media companies, rights owners and authors.

They are gathered in an industry consortium known as VG Media that counts among its members Axel Springer, but also Germany’s (in)famous GEMA performance rights agency, along with hundreds of others.

The leaked document, a letter, shows VG Media spearheading the effort to carry out a campaign to influence public opinion, policymakers and judges across the EU and in member-states against “digital monopolists Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.”

The letter references the (troubled) adoption of the Digital Directive as a process that showed how important it is to “continually inform” the public.

And as “information,” i.e., lobbying campaigns go, this one doesn’t seem to have much in the way of distinguishing itself: it seeks to appeal to emotions and a sense of right and wrong among its targeted audience, and lumps together such diverse and big issues as antitrust, data protection, protection of children, equality, tax laws – and protection of intellectual property.

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