This is what is at stake in the current battle between GAFAMs and Europe.
Google, $ 136,22 billion in annual revenue, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other digital platforms refuse to pay the smallest percentage of the colossal advertising revenue they generate by aggregating advertising with text, photos and videos created and produced by press sites, press agencies, bloggers, Internet users, etc.
Despite an intense lobbying campaign – to which it is said that Google would have spent $ 40 million — coupled with a petition from the German Pirate Party signed by five million internet users urging MEPs to reject a neighboring right to the copyright on the Internet — a European law was however passed on March 24, 2019 in Brussels, obliging the digital platforms to pay to the producers and creators of contents a modest part of the advertising windfall which they garner, a « neighboring right to the copyright » in technocratic language. In vain. GAFAMs (the Big Tech) do not pay.
Creators and producers of visual or written content, current or future, should listen to what one of the founders of Silicon Valley, current director of Microsoft’s research laboratory, Jaron Lanier, thinks. He says he writes on his behalf and not Microsoft’s.
What is at stake on the internet, he tells us in essence, what the GAFAMs are trying to impose is free copyright.
Jaron Lanier’s stance, critical thinking and freedom of tone render him a unique voice in the Silicon Valley worth listening to. He expressed himself in Billboard the day before the vote on neighboring rights, by addressing Julia Reda, president of the German Pirate Party
here are some extracts of the letter.
Hello from Silicon Valley! As the vote on the Copyright Directive approaches, we wanted to thank Europeans, especially young members of the Pirate Parties, for defanging the left in order to make us rich.
We love that we can take your data for free. That lets us run personalized “engagement” and “persuasion” algorithms that get you addicted to our services. Then we get to make money from people who pay to extract changes in your behavior patterns. Your willingness to buy into our plan has built the biggest and fastest fortunes in human history. And the beautiful thing is that you don’t even want to believe you’re being manipulated — so you, our victims, become our best allies. It’s a work of art!
It’s SO perfect for us that the Pirate Parties think that paying creators is a form of censorship, or whatever their dogma is at the moment. Avoiding payments means money in OUR pockets, over here in California — money that’s taken from the future of Europe. How wonderful for us! We get richer and richer, and somehow a ton of progressive Europeans think that’s great!
You see, we giant tech platforms are in an epochal Artificial Intelligence race. That’s the competition that’s really motivating us. To get ahead in that race, we need tons of data, and how sweet it is to not have to pay for it! By supporting us to not pay creators and protesting against the EU copyright Directive, you also support us in not paying you!
Aside from that, we don’t really care so much about whether we pay creators. It’s not such a big deal when you’re as rich as we are. What’s more important is that, by not paying creators today, we are setting the stage for ripping off everyone in a much bigger way tomorrow.
Signed Big Tech
Fortunately, Jaron Lanier adds a small postscript at the end of his letter:
P.S. Actually, not all of us are that bad, and if you could clear your heads, you’d find allies in the tech world who do want you to get paid in the future.
Let’s find out who these allies are.
Photo by Canticle at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0