Sunday, March 24, 2019

Merkel's party in hurricane-strength shitstorm after falsely alleging U.S. corporations pay anti-Article 13 demonstrators

The day after tomorrow, Tuesday, March 26, the European Parliament will hold its first-reading plenary vote on the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market aka EU Copyright Directive, at 12:30 PM local time in Strasbourg. The proponents of the totally ill-conceived Article 13 (which is technically Article 17 now due to a renumbering, but everyone knows what is meant by Article 13) would like it to be the final reading, but don't hold your breath:

  1. Under normal circumstances and according to conventional wisdom, you'd get your way. But this is an atypical situation with outside pressures and dynamics. There have been various defections in recent weeks from the pro-upload-filter camp, the most important one being Friday's announcement by Poland's Platforma Obywatelska (Civic Platform), the second-largest (by nmber of MEPs) party in the European People's Party group and even in the EU Parliament as a whole, to vote against Article 13 and, if necessary, against the entire bill. I thanked Platforma Obywatelska in my speech at yesterday's Munich demonstration (the largest one of roughly 100), which starts at 2h42m of the recorded livestream.

  2. Even if an unholy alliance between Merkel's party and numerous Southern European parties secured a majority on Tuesday, the proposed directive would still have to be formally adopted by the EU Council. Normally, such approvals following an earlier vote at the level of the diplomats are listed as an "A item," meaning for approval without discussion (they're approved by no one objecting). That's the way things work in the EU. But in this case, considering that even based on traditionally-conservative police estimates we had well over 100,000 people (mostly but not all of them rather young) on the streets across Germany (40,000 in Munich alone), I believe we have the potential to create a situation in which no member of the German government short of Merkel herself--she did a horse trade with Macron, who insisted on Article 13--would want to be responsible for the formal adoption of the bill by failing to raise a hand. And if Merkel herself wanted to take that step, it might even be the end of her government coalition.

    We're not there yet. The immediate objective is to get Article 13 voted down. But even if not, we won't give up. It would then be conceivable that the recently-elected chairwoman of Merkel's party, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, could replace Merkel in a so-called Jamaica coalition (based on the colors of the parties involved) and kill Article 13. That's because the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) opposes Article 13 and appears to be preparing for an exit from Merkel's coalition government. The number of people taking to the streets would reach stratospheric heights if we mobilized not only opponents of Article 13 but also disillusioned SPD voters who want Merkel's "grand coalition" to come to an end sooner rather than later (such as the SPD's youth organization) and other people who are tired of Merkel, of whom there's plenty.

    Should the EP adopt Article 13, I'll be among those who will immediately try to dissuade the German government from supporting its formal adoption regardless of unwritten diplomatic procedural rules.

We're less than 48 hours away from the EP vote, and Merkel's party (formally two parties--CDU and CSU--but practically just one as the CSU is basically the pseudo-independent Bavarian state party like Minnesota's DFL is just the Democrat Party in the North Star State) is going through a shitstorm now that beats everything they've ever been through. It's a hurrican.

What triggered this shitstorm is the most stupid and most outrageous claim made in the whole copyright reform debate, which means a lot because earlier this week the CDU/CSU delegation to the European Parliament already made itself the laughing stock of German Internet users by saying something totally foolish and incompetent about Google's inner workings. Also, the European Commission's "mob" blog post won't be forgotten anytime soon.

The CDU/CSU delegation's incompetence is an embarrassment, but now they're seriously antagonizing an entire generation of voters by falsely alleging that people taking to the streets against Article 13 are paid by "large American corporations" (click on the image to enlarge; this post continues below the screenshot of the tweet):

In the above tweet, the CDU/CSU EP delegation's official Twitter account shared a quote from an interview their leader in the EP, Daniel Caspary MEP, gave to the "Bild" tabloid newspaper, which I'll translate as follows:

"When American corporations attempt to prevent the adoption of a law by massively leveraging disinformation and paid demonstrators, our democracy is in jeopardy." (emphases added)

This. Is. Outrageous.

This. Is. Preposterous.

This. Is. Pathological.

What Mr. Caspary apparently confused for hired guns at demonstrations is that one NGO, EDRI (which is far left of my political inclinations to be sure) offset parts of some activists's travel costs, to the tune of 450 euros (many professional lobbyists charge more per hour) for coming to Brussels and Strasbourg to meet MEPs. But with roughly 150,000 demonstrators on German streets yesterday, plus dozens of demonstrations in other European cities (roughly 100 venues in total), it would have cost tens of millions to pay 450 euros to each participant in yesterday's demonstrations.

Various CDU politicians, also including some members of the German Bundestag (Federal Parliament), have distanced themselves from this idiocy in the strongest terms. The CDU youth organization's Hamburg-Harburg chapter even warned that this offensive behavior against people exercising their democratic rights would make their party lose an entire generation of voters.

Actually, the crowds across Germany even included some CDU members as this tweet shows (#cnetz is the CDU/CSU-aligned digital-economy think tank).

It's high time the CDU/CSU realized that this is a grassroots movement. I wasn't paid for my participation in the Munich demonstration and didn't have the slightest indication of anyone receiving anything. Instead, the organizers are even struggling to offset their hard costs with donations, as Arnold Schiller, the organizer of the Munich demonstration (which unexpectedly even surpassed the attendance in Berlin, which was originally expected to be the main event) explained on Twitter.

A leading German YouTuber, Rezo (@rezomusik on Twitter), replied to a retweet of mine of CDU politician distancing himself from his party's EP delegation's "communications" on Twitter that the issue is one of substance, not style: the problem is not how they say it, but what they say and, above all, the underlying disdain of democracy.

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