Did Google/YouTube and Facebook manage to humiliate the European Commission?
Amidst major infighting between artists, labels, and publishers over the Copyright Directive, a surprising event took place.
Last week, the European Commission and the European Council agreed on the final text of the EU Copyright Directive. This came after two years of deliberation.
The Copyright Directive includes the controversial Article 13, once considered a slam dunk for the music industry. This measure would grant copyright holders more control over their works on sites like UGC sites like YouTube. It would also impose stiff penalties on tech giants who didn’t filter and police their platforms for infringing content.
Last Wednesday, the ‘Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market’ was submitted to EU legal departments for review. The three major EU groups – the European Commission, the EU Parliament, and the Council of the European Union – had come to an agreement.
Intensive lobbying efforts from Google and YouTube consistently buffeted the trialogue discussion process. Both companies, along with other special interest lobbying groups, aimed to ‘soften’ the Copyright Directive.
Now, the European Commission has retracted a post deriding the bill’s critics.
The ‘Mob’ fights back.
The Commission has issued an apology for a post following major criticism.
In the post, How the Mob Was Told to Save the Dragon and Slay the Knight, the Commission slammed Google and Facebook.
Published late last week on Medium, the post also derided millions of people who criticized the Copyright Directive.
“Just like everyone else, the EU loves cinema, art, and music. We have no intention in restricting young people’s access to all these wonderful things on or offline.
“Oh, and, by the way, no matter what some people (and paid-for campaigns) may tell you, you will never be prevented from having a laugh online. WE ARE NOT BANNING MEMES. On the contrary, there will be a guarantee that platforms respect your right to self-expression. That includes pastiche, critique, and parody.”
Continuing on, the Commission said the “largest search and video platforms” – i.e., Google and Facebook – remain “afraid of regulation.” In addition, to quickly gather support, these platforms have purposefully misconstrued Article 13’s objective. They “[created] ‘grassroots campaigns” to make the EU appear as if it acted against “the will of the people.”
The Commission had a point. Multiple times, Susan Wojcicki’s YouTube’s CEO, told creators the bill would “dramatically threaten your livelihood.” The popular video platform then blasted normal viewers with messages begging them to oppose the Copyright Directive.
Asking users to question the purpose of these ‘grassroots campaigns,’ the Commission asked,
“So next time, when you get a sponsored message on your timeline, which says something like ‘the EU will kill the world wide web as we know it,’ stop, pause, and consider for a moment. Ask yourself: Cui Bono? Who really benefits from this message or this wider negative campaign?
“Do Google, Facebook or others really need to pay to persuade? Are we in a world where ordinary people side with the fire-breathing dragon against the knight with a blue and yellow shield?”
Unfortunately, the post drew massive criticism in a campaign likely financed by major online platforms – i.e., Google and Facebook.
Apologizing for the original post, the Commission wrote,
“This article published by the Commission services was intended to reply to concerns, but also to misinterpretations that often surround the copyright directive proposal.
“We acknowledge that its language and title were not appropriate, and we apologize for the fact that it has been seen as offending.”