Leading German MEP Claims Copyright Protesters are Bought: Here are the TWELVE People He’s Talking About
Over 100,000 people took to the streets of Germany yesterday. In Munich alone, approximately 50,000 marched, as well as an estimated 30,000 in Berlin. They demonstrated in response to repeated accusations from MEPs that critics of the EU Copyright Directive didn’t actually exist, and were merely “bots” created by leading internet companies in order to manipulate the EU.
When people hit the streets yesterday, some new theories emerged. Daniel Caspary is the leader of the CDU/CSU delegation, Germany’s largest in the European Parliament. He spoke to Bild magazine and claimed that protesters were bought for €450.
“Now, of course, they are trying to prevent the adoption of the copyright directive, even with purchased demonstrators. Up to €450 is offered by a so-called NGO for the demonstration. The money seems to come, at least in part, from large US internet companies. When US companies with their massive use of disinformation and purchased protesters try to prevent laws, our democracy is threatened.” — Daniel Caspary in Bild magazine, March 23, 2019
The statement wasn’t fact-checked, and no further questions were asked, but the CDU highlighted it on Twitter to emphasise what they see as a huge problem.
Throughout Saturday and into Sunday morning, the CDU has failed to respond to requests for a comment, but judging by his remarks, it seems as though Caspary is talking about the non-profit organisation EDRI, which covered costs of up to €450 for citizens who wanted to travel to Strasbourg and “meet with MEPs and ask them to vote against an upload filter”.
It is, therefore, a completely overt attempt by EDRI to lobby and influence MEPs. However, it’s 1) not a payment for demonstrating; 2) reimbursement of travel costs to Parliament in Strasbourg, and not to any of yesterday’s demonstration cities; and, most importantly, 3) about a dozen people took up the offer.
Here they are:
Mattias Bjärnemalm, Swedish Pirate Party candidate for May’s European Parliament elections, pointed out the connection to EDRI, “most inaccuracies are based on a distortion of some form of real-life event,” he says.
Update: During Sunday, Caspary confirmed that his earlier comments were indeed in reference to EDRI. He also tweeted:
“I have great respect for the many of you who take the streets to demonstrate your views. I will always fight for freedom, democracy and the right to demonstrate, and I view with regret any other interpretation. But when organisations try to influence public opinion through questionable methods such as ‘financial support’, it is also possible to criticise”, Caspary said, referring to EDRI.
Clearly, EDRI isn’t a wealthy lobby group with massive funding from American internet giants, at least not to the extent of compensating 100,000 protesters. If even 1% of those demonstrating were to have been paid, it would’ve cost the corporates about half a million euro just to populate a tiny portion of the protests.
Several of the organisations behind the demonstrations have also struggled to raise money to cover the expenses of the rallies themselves. For example, Save Your Internet has only received just over half of the €50,000 they requested. Even during Saturday’s demonstration in Berlin, it was obvious that the budget for both stage and PA system was severely limited. From this stage, speeches were held that should’ve reached 100,000 people, yet it ended up a show for just the few thousand nearest the stage.
View our story from the demonstrations:
This piece is funded by a Kickstarter campaign to monitor the European Parliament’s Copyright Directive proposal during its final stage of voting. Text and images are supplied under CC BY, a license that makes it free to share and redistribute wherever you want, provided you link back here with appropriate credit.
Read the original post in Swedish.