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 2013: April-June

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 Offsite Article: Banning of Geller and Spencer from UK will only build grievance...


Link Here 28th June 2013
Index on Censorship logo Britain's bar on anti-Muslim activists travelling to the country could do more harm than good, says Padraig Reidy of Index on Censorship

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 Update: Grinning and Baring It...

Sun's Page 3 set to continue under the new editor


Link Here 27th June 2013  full story: Page 3 Girls...Miserable campaigners whinge about page 3 fun

Sun Page 3 calendar 2012 David Dinsmore , the new Sun editor, has vowed to continue printing pictures of topless women on Page 3 as it is a good way of selling newspapers .

Speaking on the radio station LBC 97.3 on Wednesday morning, Dinsmore said that Page 3 would remain in the paper despite growing criticism from campaigners. He was speaking of a new exhibition of erotic Japanese paintings at the British Museum in London and said:

This is Japanese art -- Spring Pictures as it's euphemistically called. It's given the editor of the Times the opportunity to put a naked Japanese lady on page 3, which as we know is a good way of selling newspapers.

Asked whether Page 3 was safe under the Sun s new editorship, Dinsmore said:

It is, it is, yes I can tell you that.

He later told BBC Radio 5 Live:

Page 3 stays. We did a survey last year and found that two thirds of our readers wanted to keep Page 3. What you find is people who are against Page 3 have never read the Sun and would never read the Sun.

As far as the exposure goes, it's on Page 3, it's not on the cover. I was flicking through a copy of this month's Vogue and there's Kate Moss topless. I suspect the editor of Vogue won't be questioned on whether topless pictures are on its pages. I think we've got to keep a sense of proportionality about this.

 

  For Reporting the News Rather than Penguins...

Turkish authorities launch intimidating Twitter campaign against BBC reporter


Link Here 25th June 2013

turkey intimidationThe BBC says it is very concerned by a campaign by the Turkish authorities to intimidate its journalists . Mayor Ibrahim Melih Gokcek described BBC Turkish reporter Selin Girit as an English agent , launching a campaign against her on Twitter.

The mayor, a member of the ruling AK party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, began the Twitter campaign against Ms Girit accusing her of trying to undermine the Turkish economy in her reporting. He urged his followers to denounce the BBC journalist by sending tweets to the newly-created hashtag, which could be roughly translated as Don't be an agent on behalf of England Selin Girit .

But it also angered many people across the country. They countered by using the hashtag Melih Gokcek is a provocateur , which quickly rose to become the country's number one trending theme. The mayor is now threatening to sue every user tweeting with the hashtag.

In the statement, BBC Global News Director Peter Horrocks said that:

A large number of threatening messages have been sent to one of our reporters. There are established procedures for making comments and complaints about BBC output and we call on the Turkish authorities to use these proper channels.

In a separate statement, Britain's National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said:

We want to send a strong message to Turkish authorities - it is simply not acceptable to target journalists in your turbulent times. We condemn the attempts to intimidate journalists and the threats must stop immediately.

Update: Treason

28th June 2013. See  article from  guardian.co.uk

Until last week Selin Girit was little known in her home country. That all changed when the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoggan, accused her of treason after her coverage of the recent anti-government protests. The attack struck fear into other journalists, who believe Erdoggan -- having consistently blamed the media for fanning the protests -- is intent on stifling all dissent.

The campaign against Girit was launched last weekend when the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, started tweeting aggressively against her. The BBC protested strongly against what it called government intimidation. Erdogan was clearly unimpressed. Speaking in parliament a day later, he said Girit was part of a conspiracy against her own country.

Turkish journalists see the focus on Girit as a warning to them all -- an example to cow the rest of them into submission. Serdar Korucu, editor of a major Turkish news outlet, said: The prime minister is telling us, 'Be careful what you say and do, or you can easily be next.

 

  Council Censors Pickled...

Local Government Secretary orders councils to allow the public to film their meetings


Link Here 15th June 2013

eric picklesIn positive step towards transparency Eric Pickles MP, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, has published new guidance which explicitly states that Councils should allow the public to openly film council meetings.

DCLG was forced to publish the guidance after a string of councils had prevented individuals from recording council meetings on supposed health and safety and legal grounds. The guidance will only apply to English councils, but it certainly creates a serious precedent for councils in Wales.

Eric Pickles said:

I want to stand up for the rights of journalists and taxpayers to scrutinise and challenge decisions of the state. Data protection rules or health and safety should not be used to suppress reporting or a healthy dose of criticism.

Modern technology has created a new cadre of bloggers and hyper-local journalists, and councils should open their digital doors and not cling to analogue interpretations of council rules.

Councillors shouldn't be shy about the public seeing the good work they do in championing local communities and local interests.

 

 Update: Fashion Police Trumped by Joke Police...

Woman convicted for tweet related to the Lee Rigby murder


Link Here 8th June 2013

HM Courts ServiceA student who tweeted that people wearing Help for Heroes t-shirts deserved to be beheaded after soldier Lee Rigby was killed was arrested after complaining to police about getting threatening replies, a court heard.

Deyka Ayan Hassan contacted officers after receiving hundreds of vitriolic responses to the message on May 22, including threats to rape her and kill her by burning down her home, Hendon Magistrates' Court heard.

But she was herself later arrested at home after admitting to police she had tweeted as a joke about the design of the item of clothing:

To be honest, if you wear a Help for Heroes t-shirt you deserve to be beheaded

Hassan was ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work by magistrates, having admitted a charge of sending a malicious electronic message at an earlier hearing.

Chairman of the bench Nigel Orton told her she could have been jailed for what she did but that magistrates accepted she hadn't known it was a soldier who had been killed when she posted it.

 

  Taking the Offensive...

Index on Censorship find widespread self-censorship and fear of causing offence which is suppressing creativity and ideas in the UK


Link Here 2nd June 2013

taking the offensive Widespread self-censorship and fear of causing offence is suppressing creativity and ideas in the United Kingdom, according to a report published by Index on Censorship.

The findings are based on the January 2013 conference Taking the Offensive -- defending artistic freedom of expression in the UK , the first national debate about the social, political and legal challenges to artistic freedom of expression. It brought together arts leaders with senior police, lawyers, media and internet executives, religious commentators and arts funders to explore challenges to artists and the growth of self-censorship in contemporary culture.

There are multiple pressures on artistic freedom of expression and censorship has become a major issue for the arts sector in this country, the report reveals . Among the key findings:

  • Widespread self-censorship at an institutional level is suppressing creativity and ideas, with some artists from black and ethnic communities experiencing additional obstacles

  • Worries about public and media outrage or the loss of funding if they cause offence are causing many cultural institutions to be overly cautious in their choice of work at commission and production stages

  • The fear of police intervention or legal action is fuelled by a lack of information about the legal framework around freedom of expression

Some of the pressures on artistic free expression in the UK can be explained by a climate of caution and security consciousness. A preoccupation with risk assessment in arts organisations and public institutions, including the police, can lead to a prevalence of uncontentious, safe programming that limits both the range of voices and the space for artistic expression.

 

 Offsite Article: The facts and the fantasy...


Link Here 30th May 2013
The Guardian Exposure to explicit sexual violence doesn't mean teenagers will be prone to copying it in the bedroom

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

  11 people arrested for comments on Facebook and Twitter...

Presumably inciting religious hatred can now be added to the charge sheet of the Woolwich terrorists


Link Here 26th May 2013

Twitter logo The murder of soldier Lee Rigby has unsurprisingly provoked a backlash of anger across the UK, including the attacking of mosques, racial abuse and comments made on social media. Eleven people have been arrested around Britain for making racist or anti-religious comments on Twitter following the brutal killing in Woolwich.

The incident has also prompted a huge increase in anti-Muslim incidents, according to the organisation Faith Matters, which works to reduce extremism. Before the attack about four to eight cases a day were reported to its helpline. But the group said about 150 incidents had been reported in the last few days, including attacks on mosques.

Two men from Bristol, were held under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred. Detective Inspector Ed Yaxley of Avon and Somerset Police said:

These comments were directed against a section of our community. Comments such as these are completely unacceptable and only cause more harm to our community in Bristol.

Surrey Police said a man has been charged in connection with comments placed on a social media website following the murder of the soldier. Superintendent Matt Goodridge said:

Surrey Police will not tolerate language used in a public place, including on social media websites, which causes harassment, alarm or distress.

A Hastings man has been charged by police after allegedly posting an offensive message on Facebook.

Meanwhile, a Southsea woman has been charged with allegedly sending a grossly offensive message on Facebook, an offence contrary to Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

Police have also arrested three people ahead of an EDL protest for allegedly making racist tweets.

 

 Offsite Article: Could the snooper's charter stop terror attacks?...


Link Here 25th May 2013
index logo Some UK politicians have said the murder of a soldier in Woolwich, London this week demonstrates the need for greater surveillance of communications data. But would a snooper's charter really have made a difference?

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 Offsite Article: Devilish Details...


Link Here 14th May 2013  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth
Houses of Parliament UK's New Defamation Law May Accelerate The Death Of Anonymous User-Generated Content Internationally. Forbes points out that UK's new libel law has some impossibly nasty clauses for webmasters

See article from forbes.com

 

  Waiting to Be Read...

Amanda Knox memoir will not be published in the UK due to libel laws


Link Here 27th April 2013

Waiting Be Heard A Memoir Britain's libel laws have prevented the UK publication of Amanda Knox's account of the murder of Meredith Kercher, according to the book's publisher. Publication of the memoir, Waiting to be Heard , is due to go ahead as scheduled in the US, Canada and Australia on Tuesday.

HarperCollins UK had been due to publish the book early next month but has pulled out over fears of legal action. A spokesman said:

Due to our legal system, and relying upon advice from our counsel, HarperCollins UK will not publish a British edition of Waiting to Be Heard, by Amanda Knox, at this time.

The publisher is concerned that the UK's stringent libel laws mean that it could run into legal difficulties because a retrial of Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, has been ordered by Italian authorities. In addition, the publisher is closely monitoring a number of libel cases in Italy where police and authorities are suing Knox and her parents for defamation for claims made in the press about how she was treated and and her interrogation about the murder.

UK readers will be able to buy the US book online.

 

 Offsite Article: Facebook: news provider or social network?...


Link Here 27th April 2013
channel 4 logo Channel 4 commenter seems to be bitching that it is unfair that news reported via social networks isn't subject to the same taste and decency restraints as Channel 4 news

See article from channel4.com

 

 Update: Contracting Out of Libel Restrictions...

House of Lords passes watered down bill that still includes many welcome reforms to UK libel law


Link Here 24th April 2013  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

House of Lords logoLaws that led to London being dubbed the libel capital of the world will be reformed after peers in the Lords voted to pass the defamation bill, ending a three-year campaign led by Liberal Democrat peers Lord McNally and Lord Lester.

Libel reform campaigners said they were delighted overall that defamation reform was finally passing into law, although they were disappointed by the failure of a bid to bar private companies contracted to run schools, prisons or healthcare from suing ordinary citizens who criticised the work they do for the taxpayer. In the end it was the Lib Dems and Tories that did the dirty and killed some of the valuable reforms.

However, the bill is a landmark piece of legislation and should provide more protection for individuals and organisations, including newspapers and broadcasters, which criticise big companies.

The new law will also stop cases being taken in London against journalists, academics or individuals who live outside the country, denting the libel tourism industry, but not ending it altogether, as foreigners will still be able to lodge claims in the high court.

The bill will now return to the Commons on Wednesday for formal approval with no possibility of fresh amendments.

Kirsty Hughes, chief executive of Index on Censorship said she was delighted that corporations will now have to prove financial loss before they sue for libel but added it was a pity the government voted against Labour's amendment to stop public money being used to stop citizen critics .

Comment: Victory for free speech as libel bill passes

25th April 2013. See  article from  indexoncensorship.org

Index on Censorship logoToday, 24 April, saw history made. The UK parliament has passed a new Defamation Bill, which will now go on to Royal Assent. A major victory against censorship in Britain and beyond has been won, with England's notorious libel laws changed in favour of free speech.

The new law protects free speech. There is a hurdle to stop vexatious cases. We now have a bar on libel tourism so non-EU claimants will now need to prove that harm has been done here. For the first time there will be a statutory public interest defence that will ask defendants to prove they have acted reasonably (a better test than the more burdensome Reynold's test of responsible publication). There is also a hurdle to stop corporations from suing unless they can prove financial harm.

...Read the full article

 

 Updated: Free Expression...Except on TV...

European Court rules in favour of Britain's broadcast ban on political advertising


Link Here 23rd April 2013

European court buildingsBritain may be forced to lift its ban on broadcasting political advertising when the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rules on its lawfulness tomorrow.

The campaign group Animal Defenders International (ADI) was told it could not run adverts highlighting the plight of caged primates. Because the organisation was not a charity, it was treated as a political group. ADI said this was a breach of its right to freedom of expression and appealed against the decision. The final ruling in its attempts to overturn the ban on its adverts will be handed down tomorrow.

If ADI is successful, the Government will have to amend the laws regarding political advertising or even lift the ban altogether.

The ECHR has overturned similar bans in Norway and Switzerland. Jacob Rowbottom, a fellow in constitutional law at University College, Oxford, said:

It seems very likely that they will find the complete blanket ban on paid political advertising to violate freedom of expression.

Update: Political adverts will continue to be banned

23rd April 2013.  See  article from  independent.co.uk
See also 'political' chimp advert from YouTube
See also ECHR Judgement from bailii.org
See also Strasbourg ties itself in knots over advertising ban from  ukhumanrightsblog.com

political chimp advert video An animal rights group has narrowly lost an attempt to end the broadcast ban on paid political advertising in the UK.

Human rights judges in Strasbourg ruled in a 9-8 test case verdict that Government refusal to allow Animal Defenders International to screen a TV advert promoting animal rights was not a breach of ADI's freedom of expression.

The Strasbourg judges declared:

The court noted that both parties (ADI and the Government) maintained that they were protecting the democratic process.

It found in particular that the reviews of the ban by both parliamentary and judicial bodies had been exacting and pertinent, taking into account the European Court's case law.

The judges said the ban only applied to advertising and ADI had access to alternative media, both broadcast and non-broadcast .

 

  Control Freaks Thwarted...

High Court nixes claims that website owners can control who browses their websites by claiming copyright over the temporary files created when reading a web page


Link Here 18th April 2013

Old BaileyThe supreme court has thankfully ruled that opening newspaper articles in a browser via a website link is not somehow a breach of the newspaper's copyright.

The ruling comes after a three-year legal between the Newspaper Licensing Agency and a media monitoring company, Meltwater, which charges PR companies for alerts about their clients. After a dispute over fees that has already been through the high court and court of appeal, the supreme court was asked to look at the narrow question of whether the copyright of newspapers was infringed when a user browses content online.

Five supreme court judges led by the president, Lord Neuberger, found against the NLA's arguments that browsing would constitute a breach of copyright because the newspaper article would be temporarily stored in the users' computer.

The supreme court said it could not be a breach of copyright as it was a temporary page and the European Court of Justice had already ruled this would be an exception to copyright law, because it was a necessary part of the technical process supporting the internet experience. The supreme court said if it had found otherwise, it would have been:

An unacceptable result, which would make infringers of many millions of ordinary users of the internet across the EU who use browsers and search engines for private as well as commercial purposes.

But the supreme court has decided that the copyright issues surrounding web browsing are so important that it has referred the case it was examining to the European Court of Justice to ensure that the ruling applies uniformly across the EU.

Jorn Lyssegen, chief executive of Meltwater, said he was

Very pleased that the supreme court over-ruled the previous rulings by the court of appeals and the high court that the simple act of browsing the internet could be copyright infringement.

 

 Updated: BBC Lacks Courage, Soul and a Brain...

BBC descends into one sided propaganda as it refuses to acknowledge the unpopular side of Margaret Thatcher


Link Here 15th April 2013
the witch is deadThe BBC has defended its decision to censor Radio 1's Official Chart Show. The song championed by opponents of Margaret Thatcher, Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead , will be banned from the customary full broadcast for a song rising in the singles charts.

Instead the BBC will give the song a passing mention in a news item supported by a mere 5s clip.

BBC Radio 1 controller and censor Ben Cooper claimed the move over the Wizard of Oz film track had been a difficult compromise. Whenever people spout political bollox about 'balancing rights with...' one knows that they are taking something away. Cooper is no exception, he spewed that he had to balance 'respect' for someone who had just died with issues around freedom of speech.

Sales of the song, from the 1939 musical starring Judy Garland, have soared since former Prime Minister Lady Thatcher's death on Monday, supported by Thatcher's opponents. The single is set to take the number three spot in Sunday's countdown, according to the Official Charts Company.

Capital FM, which has its own chart show, said the station was currently reviewing the situation .

The Conservative chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, John Whittingdale, claimed the BBC's decision was a sensible compromise.

However, the Conservative MP for Reading East, Rob Wilson, said the track should be played in its entirety. He said:

I think that Margaret Thatcher would be horrified having helped free millions of people in eastern Europe and been the symbol of freedom around the world that she could in any way have censorship in her own country.

The BBC has had a very difficult decision and it's come up with a very British old-fashioned fudge.

Journalist and DJ Paul Gambaccini said that the programme was not a programme of choice .

The Top 40 is the news of music, he went on. It's not something to editorialise about - it's just fact. You can't change reality.

Comment: And a little good sense from Mediawatch-UK

Dan comments in an article from mediasnoops2.wordpress.com

The BBC's earlier report on the fuss surrounding whether or not Radio 1 should play Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead on their chart rundown show featured a rather surprising quote from Our Viv...

Vivienne PattisonVivienne Pattison says:

I feel utterly sorry for all the chart shows. It's put them in a really invidious position.

But chart shows exist to play the most bought or downloaded songs, and to change that is to interfere with a democratic process.

John Beyer would have probably demanded the BBC ban it completely. Viv's comments are surprisingly measured.

That's not to say she is saying the BBC should play it but she has more time for democracy than Beyer ever had.

Comment: Thatcher Ding Dong! chart campaign is puerile

The Guardian...but the best protest available. The possibility of Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead charting high on Sunday reflects the messy, visceral side of human nature.

See article from guardian.co.uk

Comment: And as for the Daily Mail...Well...

See article from dailymail.co.uk

Daily Mail logoWhat a sorry, unedifying mess the BBC has got itself into over the hateful campaign by sick Left-wing zealots trying to bounce the song Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead to the top of the music charts.

First the Corporation -- with its countless overpaid commissars of political correctness -- let it be known that, on Sunday's pop chart show, the song would be played in full.

Then, faced with a barrage of complaints from MPs on all sides on the disgrace of giving airtime to a song viciously celebrating the death of a great Prime Minister before she was even buried, a re-think was ordered.

Update: No 2

15th April 2013. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

bbc chart show logoDing Dong! The Witch Is Dead duly entered the singles chart at number two, and the BBC duly banned the song from the show.

The Wizard of Oz song had sold 52,605 copies,  5,700 copies behind Duke Dumont and A*M*E with Need U (100%) which remained at the top for a second week.

Rival campaign song I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher entered at 35. The 1979 song by punk band Notsensibles sold 8,768 copies after a late push from Lady Thatcher fans. The Notsensibles track was played in full on the programme.

But Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead was replaced by a Newsbeat reporter explaining why the song was in the chart. Two short clips of the song were played as Sinead Garvan gave details of the online campaign and explained why opponents had been critical of Lady Thatcher. The news report - which ran for almost 40 seconds longer than the song itself - also included two views from members of the public on the controversy, with one saying it was quite funny , while the other said it was disgraceful .

 

 Offsite Article: Policeman tried to censor local paper for criticising a councillor...


Link Here 15th April 2013
hampshire police logo Officer phoned newsroom and visited editor over article on 'controversial' figure

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

 Offsite Comment: Parliament has become the worst enemy of free speech...


Link Here 2nd April 2013
Houses of Parliament Too many of our laws are being used simply to silence 'unacceptable' views, writes Philip Johnston

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

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