"Campaign for Creativity": EU Gene Patent lobbyists taking up Software
Campaign for Creativity was shrewd in its claim to represent artists, musicians, designers, engineers and software developers trying to mimic a grassroots political movement while in fact it was a a professional political campaign, set up to lobby Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), which was engaged in astroturfing supported by software giants like Microsoft and SAP and was orchestrated by Campbell Gentry, a London-based public affairs firm, of which Simon Gentry, a public affairs consultant, was the leader of this campaign.
Gentrys pedigree was being a successful agent for corporate lobbys with top quality. His previous associations include involvement in the shameful industry campaign for patents on life on behalf of pharma giant SmithKline Beecham which succeeded in convincing leaders of a few patient interest groups that patents on genes are a precondition for cure and managed to fly some to Brussels, bring them in wheelchairs into the European Parliament using and slogan "No Patents, No Cure!". Later, the patient group leaders which have been used by Gentry's campaign regretted their use in the campaign.
Tactics of the C4C have included giving out free ice creams to MEPs while sending the invitation to it from the office of pro-program-claim MEP Malcolm Harbour on a hot afternoon and renting a sailing big motorized yacht, staffed with a huge banner saying "Vote for the CII directive" in canal of Strasbourg like a modern pirate, next to the European Parliament.
The English language website mentioned that the campaign is supported by corporations including software multinationals Microsoft and SAP, and industry association CompTIA. But to qustions from LobbyControl, Gentry refused to disclose how C4C is actually financed. He claimed that C4C has some hundred individual supporters, but these do not contribute financially. The companies, Gentry told LobbyControl, contribute to specific actions of the campaign, not on a fixed scheme. Lobbycontrol complained in a public statement that Gentry dismissed their questions about finances as meaningless, arguing that the campaign also benefits from resources provided (e.g. providing access to rooms or help from a patent lawyer), not only money. The burning question, who the Campaign for Creativity really represents, was not answered.
C4C also failed to make reference that C4C co-ordinator Simon Gentry is part of the public affairs firm Campbell Gentry. The German and French language versions of the site did not even mention the support of companies and CompTIA.
Initially created as a campaign for strong enforcement of broad "intellectual property" rights (probably created to lobby for the EUCD which is the EU'S counterpart to the DCMA and the intellectual propery enforcement directive) it was attempting to find some people with real-life stories around copyright.
One of them, Mandy Habermann, does not fit in and she has even distanced herself from similar campaigns using her as an example. The well known software patent protagonist and patent agent Axel Pfeiffer from Munich appeared at the Strasburg Dinner of C4C in November 2004 as the guest speaker.
The campaign site portrayed the opponents of software patentability as a handful of ideologues who are trying to deprive creators of the legitimate fruits of their work. It did not give a any name or web reference to any of these ideologues, who must be extremely powerful, since the site claims that the European Parliament voted for amendments which "destroy the incentive to create new software" just to "appease" this group.
C4C is a professionally designed web page, and it was likely that many people actually believed it to be genuine. This site proved that the lobbying is not always done in a honest manner and that this also includes including actively and openly promoting misinformation.
The underlying back-office service was provided by a hired gun outfit Advocay Online which also works for a number of "good cause" charities, and as of Summer 2006, http://www.campaignforcreativity.org redirects to the start page of Campbell Gentry and http://campaignforcreativity.org (without www) still shows the start page of Advocay online, like it did while the campaign was active.
Here we see another product of the founder of advocacyonline, Mr. Graham Covington. This is a portal where anyone can use a portal system to send messages to an MP and the MP can log in to this sytem to read what he/she has received.
There have been reports from politicians that they have been receiving the mails generated by !C4C.
C4C never disclosed its supporters but lobbycontrol.de (german) wrote that it has been supported by Microsoft, SAP as well as the US-based international association CompTIA, which says that it is a associaiton of computer professionals but it's political activities show that it lobbies on the side of Microsoft, so a it can be assumed that it at least in some part, dependent on Microsoft. The chief EU Lobbyists of CompTIA ist Hugo Lüders, who regularily appeared at Software Patent events, was often seen in the European Parliament and was very vocal.
News & Chronology
2006-02-20 EU European Patent Office classifies C4C in its "Useful European connections" page - it links to http://campaignforcreativity.org/camp4creativity/ and describes the link as "a pan-European group lobbying in support of intellectual property rights" - the link is broken as of August 2006 because the web site of campaignforcreativity.org has been shut down.
2005-12-16 EU C4C wins the Worst EU Lobbying Award 2005 with 85% of the votes: http://www.eulobbyaward.org
2005-07-05 EU C4C rent a yacht to promote software patents
2005-06-28 DE Lobbycontrol and CEO: critical words about intransparency of C4C (german)
2005-06-27 EU InformationWeek and TechNet: Are Patents Pending? - In Europe, demonstrators hit the streets as a vote over software patent law nears (see also RSS feed of DeveloperPipeline, C4C seen supporting Microsofts position with balloons)
2005-06-23 EU C4C demonstration and balloon-flying near European Parliament in Brussels (mimickry of FFII demonstrations, according to their PR they flew 250 SME representatives to Brussels)
2005-06-14 DE dhcp42: C4C now as well in Germany - Dr. Norbert Taubken is our new friend (-> Taubken @ CSR consult) (German)
2005-05-13 DE C4C attacks Rocard and FFII in a very sleazy way (German)
- 2005-03-00 C4C is massmailing MEPs with an misleading poll, signature from Hugo Shanahan (of C4C)
2004-11-00 Anonymous Socialist MEP likes C4C Spam
2004-10-21 Review: The disinformation ammunction of the paid PR soldiers
2004-10-00 Patents4Innovation.org launches, links to C4C
- 2004-04-00 C4C launches in spring, FFII soon starts to document their activity
People behind CfC
Sekita Ekrek, reply adress Sekita.Ekrek at campaignforcreativity.org
- Hugo Shanahan
- address: Unit 3.02, Barley Mow Centre, Barley Mow Passage, London W4 4PH, UK
- phone: 0044-20-8749-3316
- fax: 0044-20-8749-6389
mail action at campaignforcreativity.org
EU Biopatent Directive Lobbying Success
About Simon Gentry, the registrant for this page, he lobbied for the pharmaceutical giant Smithkline Beecham (SB) on the EU Life Patent Directive issue:
- " The pharmaceutical giant Smithkline Beecham (SB) has been one of the most aggressive campaigners for the Directive, launching its own lobby
campaign even before EuropaBio existed. According to SB lobbyist Simon Gentry, the company allocated 30 million ECU from the start for a pro-Directive campaign. "
30 million ECU (Eur) for a pro-EU Life Patent Directive campaign from a single company, what should be the budget for the pro-SWPAT campaign?
The biotech directive campaign eventually succeded by carrying lots of handicapped persons in wheel-chairs into the European Parliament and making them clamor for gene patents "because otherwise the medicines that save us will not be developed".
It should be noted that thanks to Gentry's successful campaigning the EU now has a directive which goes to such extremes in allowing gene patenting that even some big genetics companies are unhappy about it and some governments have tried to attack it at the European Court of Justice or to delay its implementation.