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European Commission deletes blog post that laid into copyright directive critics

By | Published on Tuesday 19 February 2019

European Commission

The European Commission’s rather forthright defence of the European Copyright Directive, posted to Medium last week, has been taken down. In its place is a statement that says “we acknowledge that [the] language and title [of the piece] were not appropriate and we apologise for the fact that it has been seen as offending”.

The post was made shortly after the Commission agreed a final draft of the European copyright reforms with reps from the European Parliament and the EU Council. It focused in particular on the most controversial elements of the directive – including the music industry supported article thirteen – and hit out at how the tech sector had gone about lobbying against those particular reforms in recent years and especially recent months.

The post was titled ‘The Copyright Directive: How the mob was told to save the dragon and slay the knight’. It mused: “We know from recent elections and referendums that simple memorable slogans – ?however untrue or unobtainable? – can go a long way to winning over hearts, minds and voters. Never let the truth get in the way of a catchy slogan”.

Accusing the tech lobby of misleading the public and employing dubious campaigning tactics, the post went on: “It appears as if the largest search and video platforms in the world are afraid of regulation – despite having overwhelming dominance on the internet. Furthermore, there is ample evidence that ‘big technology’ has even ‘created’ grassroots campaigns against the copyright directive in order to make it look and sound as if the EU is acting against the ‘will of the people'”.

The piece mainly summarised points previously raised by trade groups and lobbyists in the music community, but it was interesting to see the Commission itself hit out at those who campaigned against the more controversial elements of the directive. Especially as the full European Parliament and EU Council are yet to approve the final draft, meaning campaigning on all sides of the debate continues.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of those who continue to campaign against or object to things like the safe harbour reform in article thirteen took issue with the Commission’s piece and how it portrayed their campaigning efforts. And/or the suggestion they’d been naive and misled when forming their opinions on the more controversial elements of the directive.

Which may be why the Commission decided to remove the piece. Its full statement in place of the post now reads: “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 apologise for the fact that it has been seen as offending”.