Volker Rieck, a blogger and director of FDS File Defense Service, has spent a lot of time and effort investigating the convoluted lobbying machine that has tried to defeat Article 13 and other parts of the European Copyright Directive that would affect the business model of platforms like YouTube.
At the core was a series of buzzwords and alarming false claims that framed the debate. Rieck has described how OpenMedia.org, a Canadian nonprofit organization that had financial support from Google, first promoted the phrases "censorship machines" and "link tax" in 2017.
"Upload filter" is another misleading concept the opponents of Article 13 picked up on. Perhaps the biggest and boldest lies were that the Directive would "kill memes" and, somehow, destroy creativity and annihilate YouTube at the same time.
The fact that these misleading terms have managed to frame the debate around the European Copyright Directive points to some pretty clever lobbying and obfuscating.
In “The anatomy of an assault on politics,” a two-part blog series on the lobbying campaign, Rieck describes how a fake grass roots campaign took shape, with sites like openmedia.org and saveyourinternet.eu distributing tools to carry out mass spamming campaigns targeting EU lawmakers.
In a subsequent post, Rieck takes a look at the extent to which Openmedia, although based in Canada, openly lobbied against the Copyright Directive and tried to obscure the sources of its funding. Google and former Google employees figure prominently.
Saveyourinternet.eu, a domain registered in May 2018, picked up the baton as a coordinator of activities opposing the Copyright Directive. Rieck determined through a Whois inquiry that the site was registered using the e-mail address email@example.com. That, he said, suggested the involvement of Caroline de Cock, managing director of N-Square, a Belgian lobbying firm that has had Google as a client. That registration email has since been changed.
“Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this entire episode has, however, been the brazenness with which interest groups outside the EU and non-EU enterprises with opaque ownership and funding structures have mounted an assault on the legislative bodies of the EU.” - Volker Rieck