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Clash of the corporate titans: Who's spending what in Europe's Copyright Directive battle

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There's been a lot of money thrown around to determine the future of the Internet in the EU, but despite the frequent assertion that every opponent of the new Copyright Directive is a paid puppet for Google, the numbers tell a different story: according to the watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), the entertainment industry are the biggest spenders by far, and they have obscured that fact by using dodgy accounting to make it look like Google is buying out the European Parliament. The fight over the European Copyright in the Single Digital Market Directive has been a long one, but it boiled over last spring, when control over the Directive passed into the hands of the German MEP Axel Voss, who reversed his predecessor's decision to drop one of the Directive's most controversial clauses (Article 11, the "link tax" that forced publishers to charge for licenses to include more than a word or two in links to their news stories) and jettisoned the compromise work on the other controversial clause (Article 13, which makes online platforms liable if their users post anything that infringes copyright, even for an instant, which will require expensive black-box algorithmic censorship to accommodate). Since then, the lobbying and public debate has been fierce. Roughly speaking, there are three sides: Large corporate rightsholder organisations and collecting societies, often allied with creators' rights groups, who are largely in favour of Voss's version of the Directive (though a large group of powerful corporate rightsholders completely hate it; The tech sector, a mix of smaller EU tech companies that couldn't afford to comply with Articles 11 and 13, and US "Big Tech" platforms, who largely oppose it (though YouTube isn't actually that worried, because they're closer to having a filter than any of their competitors); and Unaffiliated civil society groups: 70 of the world's top tech experts (including the "Father of the Internet" and the inventor of the World Wide Web); a diverse coalition of human rights groups, academics, journalists, scientists, and others; legal and economic scholars; leading academics; Europe's library associations; free press advocates; the UN's special rapporteur on free expression, and of course, those four million Europeans who signed the Change.org petition against it. Read the rest

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