2019 Artist Enemy Countdown #2: Kirsten Fiedler/EDRi.org

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Kirsten Fiedler is the Senior Policy and Campaigns Manager for the European Digital Rights Organization.   An umbrella organization of “digital rights” organizations across Europe, North America and Africa.  A high percentage of their member organizations receive funding from Google and other US digital monopolies.  100% advocate policies that match Google’s copyright policies.

Now don’t be confused by the term “digital rights.”  Fiedler/EDRI do not mean actual human digital rights.  Judging by their actions and communications Fiedler/EDRi.org must be talking about the “digital rights” of the monopolistic US platforms like YouTube and Facebook. For their advocated policies allow the digital monopolists to monetize copyright infringement with impunity. Human rights? Not so much.  EDRi would like see copyright weakened even further “in the digital marketplace” (as if digital marketplace is separate from the overall marketplace for culture). As artists well know, for all practical purposes copyright is unenforcible in the “digital marketplace” and this has resulted in a dramatic market failure that depresses the value of music across the board.  Think it’s hard to feed your family now?  Wait til Fiedler and EDRi get their way.

Now some regard EDRi and Fiedler as ignorant do-gooders that don’t understand the consequences of their actions.  I disagree.  I think they know exactly what they are doing. For Ms. Fiedler and EDRi engage in the most sinister form of corporate copyleftism: declaring they are “for artists rights” while pushing policy and talking points that are indistinguishable from policy positions of the Pirate Party and Google. These policies are clearly intended to strip authors of any copyright protection.

But that’s not all. Fiedler and EDRi frequently engage in clever disinformation campaigns that wildly distort the truth.  Look at the comic Fiedler is fond of distributing with EDRi’s propaganda materials:

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(Mimi and Eunice comic. Copyright notice states: “♡ Copying is an act of love. Please copy.” We are for artists choice. Copyright allows an author the CHOICE to enforce their rights or not.  Piracy eliminates choice). 

This is the old Pirate Party BIG LIE. “We’re not ripping off artists we are ripping off the giant corporations.”  Every artist knows what bullshit this is and so do EDRi folks.  (tl/dr in digital realm many royalty streams, but especially songwriter royalties flow directly through to artists without any label/publisher intermediation, and what about the 60% of professional performers that are independent?).

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In fact it is clear that EDRi is working hand in hand with the Pirate Party. Above is a guest post from EDRi on the EU Pirate Party Medium account. Pirates Party really? Didn’t the founder of the Pirate Party call for the legalization of child pornography? These folks are far outside any Overton window of political respectability.  As a result it’s fair to question not just Fiedler’s judgement, it’s fair to question her morality when she makes common cause with the Pirate Party.  What’s next an alliance with far right white nationalists?

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Oh wait they look like they’ve already started. See tweet above.  I guess Fiedler is one of those “ends justify means” personalities.

And the sinister nature really shows in the campaign Fiedler and EDRi waged against Article 13.  For Fiedler/EDRi were willing to use deliberate misinformation (some would say outright lies) to defeat article 13.  What kind of people do this kind of thing?

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Screenshots 5-7: Gee the UN Human Rights Rapporteur surely is not collaborating with a corporate funded astroturf group.  There must be some mistake.  Also: there are no “censorship machines;” “upload filters” are already in use on all major platforms for pornography, terrorist content and in some cases copyright; no possible reading of language of Article 13 would “ban memes;”  and Wired magazine sadly caters to its biggest advertisers (Silicon Valley) reprinting propaganda with no critical analysis, that’s EDRi retweeting Wired magazine’s article that is almost completely sourced from EDRi generated documents. 

Just three examples. But they all repeat the censorship canard.  It is impossible to overstate just how far from the truth is the claim that article 13 would result in censorship. It’s not even in the same time zone as the actual language of the directive. EDRi’s claim of censorship would seem to exist in a dystopian parallel universe in which copying wholesale artists works without permission is a digital platform’s “free speech.”  Fundamentally Article 13 is about encouraging trillion dollar digital platforms to license works uploaded by their users. If users can’t upload works? It is because Google has decided to hoard its profits of $31billion a year rather than bother licensing works.

Similarly the frequent use of the term “upload filters” by Fiedler and EDRi is another kind of disinformation.  Platforms already use upload filters for pornography, terrorist propaganda and copyrighted works from certain firms. Article 13 doesn’t create these things. They already exist.

It is telling to note that both the terms “upload filters” and “censorship machines” originated 6 months earlier with the Google funded/staffed Open Media astroturf group. This is the group that was caught spamming the EU parliament with robotic emails, tweets and phone calls.   I’m gonna take a wild guess and say these terms were the work (or certainly inspired) by Jacob Glick the former International Head of Public Policy & Government Relations for Google. These terms are after all so Googley (circa 2012). Glick was (is?) board member of Open Media when these terms surfaced.  BTW we briefly considered making Glick one of the top five artist enemies but it appears the guy now works for a reading glasses startup in Kitchener Ontario. While not a lower circle of hell its got to be close.  Naming him an artist enemy would be like kicking a dog.  Instead the award goes to Fiedler.

So congratulations Ms. Fiedler you are 2019 Artists Enemy #2.  Good work.  See if next year you can get to #1.  The devil always needs more souls.

 

 

 

 

About Dr. David C Lowery

Platinum selling singer songwriter for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven; platinum selling producer; founder of pitch-a-tent records; founder Sound of Music Studios; platinum selling music publisher; angel investor; digital skeptic; college lecturer and founder of the University of Georgia Terry College Artists' Rights Symposium.