"It's a very intense, aggressive fight" because "it takes a lot of money," says Olivier Hoedeman from the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory, which studies the influence of lobbyists in the EU.
The aim of the reform proposed by the European Commission in 2016 is to modernize copyright in the digital age.
The principle is to encourage platforms, such as YouTube, to better reward content creators (article 13), but also to create a new "neighboring right" for newspaper publishers (article 11), making newspapers or agencies such as AFP to get paid when re-using their production online.
Two fronts arose: on the one hand the makers and the press, looking for income; on the other hand, an unexpected alliance between the digital giants who are afraid of a challenge for their business model & # 39 ;, and Internet activists who view the text as a threat to the freedom of the web.
In the middle of the arena, 750 members of the European Parliament, sometimes worried by the pressure on a relatively technical reform, which they have to decide on.
– "Colossal means" –
The digital industry won the first round at the beginning of July when Parliament rejected the text, which is to be voted again on 12 September.
Several members of the European Parliament had denounced the "unprecedented" lobby of GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) for manipulation.
"The only equivalent I have had is the firearms industry," said Virginie Rozière, MEP (Socialists and Democrats), who said that GAFA used "colossal means" to finance, by "disguising", "pseudo-citizen campaigns".
She says that before the vote in July she received more than 40,000 e-mails against the text.
"By that time, this is the only way to get the attention of MEPs, what should be done to send them post-it? Postcards?", Answers Caroline De Cock, co-ordinator of the coalition Copyright For Creativity (C4C ), at the base of one of these campaigns.
The latter explains how museums, consumer associations or libraries should be represented, but also recognizes that C4C is being financed by the ICC, the lobby of the digital industry, "to a third party".
She also counts Google among the clients of a communications agency that she manages elsewhere.
"We attack the messenger if we do not have an answer to the message", answers Caroline De Cock.
It is impossible to quantify the amounts spent by the digital sector on the campaign, but the assessment of UK music industry representative UK Music, according to which Google alone has invested 31 million euros, seems "very unlikely" to Olivier Hoedeman, Corporate Europe Observatory.
– AIR, IAM and Renaud –
Siada El Ramly, executive director of EDiMA, a lobbying group in the technology sector, assures AFP that it has spent "over a million euros" on this topic, calling it "a priority".
On the other hand, it protests against the means of the music industry, which has brought "great artists" such as Jean-Michel Jarre – president of the International Confederation of Associations of Authors and Composers (Cisac) – to defend the text for the deputies.
Paul McCartney also wrote to them, while in France more than 70 artists, including AIR, IAM or Renaud, published an open letter.
"Imagine the impact of our press releases when there are famous people in front of you?", Says Laments Ms. El Ramly.
The figurehead of the opponents of the text, the German MEP Julia Reda, attached to the ecologists, remains on her blog & # 39; the strokes low & # 39; and & # 39; the violent lobby & # 39; from the publishers and the artists complain.
Mrs Reda insists on the "mix of genres between lobbying and information on the part of the media itself", especially when they have published "articles favorable to the directive" before the vote in July.
The mouthpiece of the current anti-regulation on the internet does not evolve in the same camp as the digital giants: "The only thing I agree with is that the text is not good, but we do not agree on the changes, "she says.
In the run-up to the vote in September, the campaign resumed: C4C restarted its mailing to deputies on Monday, while the European press published a forum from Sammy Ketz, AFP's big reporter, signed by more than a hundred European journalists.
He denounces the "false lobby" of Google and Facebook "according to which the directive on neighboring rights threatens the free internet".
Zap / agr / plh / jhd