The media company paid by the EU Parliament to make a video promoting a copyright law it stood to make millions from once sued a photographer for complaining that they'd ripped him off

Yesterday, I wrote about how MEP Julia Reda resolved the mystery of how the European Parliament came to produce a batshit smear-campaign video promoting the new Copyright Directive and smearing the opposition to the Directive (including signatories to the largest petition in human history): it turned out that the video had been produced by AFP, a giant media company that stands to make millions if the Directive passes.

Now this is bad enough, but reading Mike Masnick's Techdirt coverage of this issue reminded me of something else about AFP, those campaigners for the strongest possible copyright regime: back in 2010, AFP used a photographer's pictures of the Haiti quake without permission or compensation, and when the photographer complained, AFP sued the photographer, arguing that all photos posted to Twitter are presumptively lawful to re-use and seeking a judgment affirming this view. (AFP lost and had to pay the photog $1.2 million).

The point being that AFP has a highly selective form of copyright fundamentalism: when it comes to copyright rules that would pad its bottom line by millions, no cost is too high. But when it is playing fast-and-loose with others' copyright, it will threaten and attempt to bankrupt the aggrieved party.

AFP, of course, is a giant publisher that stands to potentially benefit from Article 11 in particular. And, apparently, AFP has been one of the more aggressive lobbying organizations in Brussels pushing for Article 11. Hell, all the way back in 2005, AFP actually sued Google for linking to its stories (spoiler alert: it did not win). So for the EU Parliament to then use public funds to ask a clearly interested party to produce a propaganda video seems highly questionable. This is the akin to say, the US Congress asking Pfizer to produce a video that will go out under "Congress" official imprimatur, about prescription drug pricing. That would be a scandal. Yet, in the EU, not too many officials seem particularly bothered by this.

Of course, it should be noted that AFP does not exactly have the greatest track record on copyright itself. In 2010, the company was caught having used someone's photo of the earthquake aftermath in Haiti without licensing, and when called on it, AFP sued the photographer with a bizarre argument that anything that was posted to Twitter was free for anyone to use (no, really). Eventually, AFP was forced to pay out $1.2 million for that debacle. You'd think that experience might make the company a little more careful about supporting extremist copyright positions, but for some reason in the copyright debates, the maximalists never think the law will seriously apply back to them.

EU Parliament Paid News Publisher AFP To Create Bogus Propaganda Video In Favor Of EU Copyright Directive [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]