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Citizens demonstrate against the copyright reforms

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

By Jack Turner

In several German cities, thousands of people have taken to the streets against the EU's planned copyright reform, with the fear of censorship by the ‘upload filtering’ driving the protest. The city of Munich alone counted as many as 40,000 demonstrators, with thousands of others present in Cologne, Berlin, Hamburg and Dusseldorf. Placards were emblazoned with such mottos as: "The Internet stays as it is", "Do not break our Internet", and "Stop Article 13". The European Parliament is due to adopt the reforms next Tuesday. And the protestors were not alone in their efforts, as German Wikipedia went offline in protest over the EU copyright law. A statement on the German Wikipedia site read that the legal changes "could lead to a considerable restriction of the free internet" and could "considerably impair freedom of expression, artistic freedom and freedom of the press". John Weitzmann, the legal head at the Wikimedia association, has defended the decision on German radio, and hoped that their act would spur change. Criticism of the proposed law has also come from internet giants Google and Facebook.

Scheuer's Farradhelm Kampagne in der Kritik

A bicycle helmet campaign by Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, which features scantily clad models and the tag-line, “Looks like shit. But saves my life. #Helmerettenleben" has been met with fierce criticism from the public and politicians alike. The main target group of the campaign is young men and women, who often fail to wear bicycle helmets for aesthetic reasons.  SPD vice-chairwoman Katja Mast said that although the campaign addresses the right topic, the implementation was "embarrassing, stale and sexist". The women's spokeswoman for the SPD parliamentary group, Josephine Ortleb, also reacted indignantly, bemoaning that, “It does not take women as objects, naked skin or sexism to make young people aware of cycling safety," and claimed that it shows the federal government urgently needs a gender equality strategy.

The Ministry stands by the campaign however, and justified itself on Twitter, citing that the first evaluation of the ratings, which showed that 1.78 million viewers were between 14 and 49 years, has confirmed "that we have reached this target group very well". 

Kuban kritisiert die CDU:

Finally, the newly-elected leader of the Young Union (JU), Tilman Kuban, has strongly criticized the CDU, claiming: "In recent years, many in the CDU no longer feel comfortable, because we have experienced in our alignment, a ‘Gleichschaltung’ (enforced political conformity). We need three wings and personalities to speak out again". Kuban claimed that the party base, especially in the refugee crisis, wanted a different policy and criticised further structural decisions of the Merkel era.

Kuban's statement has been strongly criticised, however, particularly for his use of the term "Gleichschaltung", as this is mostly used in connection with the National Socialist regime. After coming to power, the National Socialists aligned parties, associations, clubs and the media with their political goals. Sven Kindler, a member of the Greens in the Bundestag, claimed with such statements, “Kuban relativizes National Socialism”.


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