France's TV censor has warned the French arm of the propaganda channel, Russia Today, over a news report that dubbed over the voices of Syrian civilians with words they had not said.
France's Audiovisual Council (CSA) accused the state-backed
broadcaster with failures of honesty, rigour of information and diversity of viewpoints.
The news report, aired on 13 April, contested the reality of chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian region of Eastern Ghouta, the CSA said. It noted that the
testimony of a Syrian witness had been dubbed with a voice saying words that bore no resemblance with what he had said.
The CSA added that another witness had been dubbed with a voiceover saying that local residents had been ordered by militant
group Jaysh al-Islam to simulate the effects of a chemical attack, but the testimony did not mention any particular group.
The CSA further said the report demonstrated an imbalance in analysis of the situation in Syria and that on a subject this
sensitive, the different points of view should have been expressed.
What is the mysterious hold that US Big Music has over Euro politicians?
Article 13, the proposed EU legislation that aims to restrict safe harbors for online platforms, was crafted to end the so-called "Value Gap" on YouTube.
Music piracy was traditionally viewed as an
easy to identify problem, one that takes place on illegal sites or via largely uncontrollable peer-to-peer networks. In recent years, however, the lines have been blurred.
Sites like YouTube allow anyone to upload potentially
infringing content which is then made available to the public. Under the safe harbor provisions of US and EU law, this remains legal -- provided YouTube takes content down when told to do so. It complies constantly but there's always more to do.
This means that in addition to being one of the greatest legal platforms ever created, YouTube is also a goldmine of unlicensed content, something unacceptable to the music industry.
They argue that the
existence of this pirate material devalues the licensed content on the platform. As a result, YouTube maintains a favorable bargaining position with the labels and the best licensing deal in the industry.
The difference between
YouTube's rates and those the industry would actually like is now known as the " Value Gap " and it's become one of the hottest topics in recent years.
In fact, it is so controversial that new copyright legislation, currently weaving its way through the corridors of power in the EU Parliament, is specifically designed to address it.
If passed, Article 13
will require platforms like YouTube to pre-filter uploads to detect potential infringement. Indeed, the legislation may as well have been named the YouTube Act, since it's the platform that provoked this entire debate and whole Value Gap dispute.
With that in mind, it's of interest to consider the words of YouTube's global head of music Lyor Cohen this week. In an interview with
MusicWeek , Cohen pledges that his company's new music service, YouTube Music,
will not only match the rates the industry achieves from Apple Music and Spotify, but the company's ad-supported free tier viewers will soon be delivering more cash to the labels too. "Of course [rights holders are] going to get more
money," he told Music Week.
If YouTube lives up to its pledge, a level playing field will not only be welcomed by the music industry but also YouTube competitors such as Spotify, who currently offer a free tier on less
While there's still plenty of room for YouTube to maneuver, peace breaking out with the labels may be coming a little too late for those deeply concerned about the implications of Article 13.
YouTube's business model and its reluctance to pay full market rate for music is what started the whole Article 13 movement in the first place and with the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament (JURI)
adopting the proposals last week , time is running out to have them overturned.
Behind the scenes, however, the labels and their associates are going flat out to ensure that Article 13 passes, whether YouTube decides to "play fair" or not. Their language suggests that force is the best negotiating tactic with the
Yesterday, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher led a delegation to the EU Parliament in support of Article 13. He was joined by deputy Labour leader Tom Watson and representatives from the BPI, PRS, and Music
Publishers Association, who urged MEPs to support the changes.
The Hungarian National Opera in Budapest has cancelled 15 performances of the musical Billy Elliot , blaming negative campaigning by the local media.
Daily newspaper Magyor Idok ran a series of stories claiming that the show could transform
Hungarian boys into homosexuals, and another article said it promoted a deviant way of life.
Szilveszter Okovacs, director of the Hungary National Opera, told Hungarian site 444.hu: As you know, the negative campaign in recent weeks against the
Billy Elliot production led to a big drop in ticket sales and for this reason we are cancelling 15 performances in line with the decision of our management.
The show will still play 24 other dates in the city, including one that is sold out.
Update: Billy Elliot gay propaganda row exposes purge in Hungary
The attack on the head of the Hungarian State Opera was both crude and unexpected. And it came from the mouthpiece of the ruling Fidesz party, Magyar Idok.
Children who watched the opera's performance of the musical Billy Elliot were in danger of
becoming homosexual, wrote Zsofia N Horvath in her opinion piece.Even the red stars used in the performance, in Budapest's cavernous Erkel theatre, were attacked in the show as banned symbols.
But another mystery entirely is that there is no known
journalist called Zsofia N Horvath. The article fits into a new cultural offensive against the last liberals in a film, theatre and publishing world that is already dominated by Fidesz figures.
Since December the same publication, Magyar Idok, has
featured a string of articles with targets including the head of the distinguished Petofi literary museum in Budapest, Gergely Pröhle. Jozsef Palinkas, the head of the National Research, Development and Innovation Office and a one-time Orban education
minister, has been sacked.
All areas of cultural life should be purged of those who allow space for liberal, globalist, and cosmopolitan ideas, the writers suggest, including state News Agency MTI, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and even Petofi
radio, a public service music channel.
The Dutch gambling authority will enforce a new ban on loot boxes. They identified four games that offer loot boxes that are considered gambling. According to the public broadcast company these games are FIFA 18, DOTA 2 , PlayerUnknown's BattleGrounds
and Rocket League .
These games had until the 20th of June to make changes to the gambling aspect of their loot boxes. Starting from Thursday the gambling authority will enforce the rules. Fines can be 830.000 euro (960.000 dollar) or 10%
of the company's worldwide revenue. If they don't make changes, the public prosecutor will look into prosecution.
The Hamburg Higher Court ruled to dismiss Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's appeal to ban German comedian Jan Böhmermann's poem due to claims of insult and mockery.
The court ruled that the poem could not be completely banned due to
Germany's laws protecting free speech. However, the court did uphold a ban regarding specific passages within the poem, which associates Erdogan with acts like bestiality and consuming child pornography.
The Turkish president was able to file a
case against the German-based comedian due to an obscure German law that deems it illegal for German citizens to insult foreign leaders.
Böhmermann initially presented the poem on 31 March 2016 on his public broadcaster ZDF television programme
Neo Magazin Royale . The satirical poem, which accused the Turkish president of repressing minorities and engaging in lewd behaviour, was read aloud by Böhmermann while he sat in front of a Turkish flag and a framed portrait of Erdogan.
The European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) has officially approved Articles 11 and 13 of a Digital Single Market (DSM) copyright proposal, mandating censorship machines and a link tax.
Articles 11 and 13 of the Directive of the
European Parliament and of the Council on Copyright in the Digital Single Market have been the subject of considerable campaigning from pro-copyleft groups including the Open Rights Group and Electronic Frontier Foundation of late.
Article 11, as
per the final version of the proposal, discusses the implementation of a link tax - the requirement that any site citing third-party materials do so in a way that adheres to the exemptions and restrictions of a total of 28 separate copyright laws or pays
for a licence to use and link to the material;
Article 13, meanwhile, requires any site which allows users to post text, sound, program code, still or moving images, or any other work which can be copyrighted to automatically scan all such uploads
against a database of copyright works - a database which they will be required to pay to access.
Both Article 11 and Article 13 won't become official legislation until passed by the entire European Parliament in a plenary vote. There's no definite
timetable for when such a vote might take place, but it would likely happen sometime between December of this year and the first half of 2019.
On June 20, the EU's legislative committee will vote on the new Copyright directive , and decide whether it will include the controversial "Article 13" (automated
censorship of anything an algorithm identifies as a copyright violation) and "Article 11" (no linking to news stories without paid permission from the site).
These proposals will make starting new internet companies
effectively impossible -- Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and the other US giants will be able to negotiate favourable rates and build out the infrastructure to comply with these proposals, but no one else will. The EU's regional tech success stories
-- say Seznam.cz , a successful Czech search competitor to Google -- don't have $60-100,000,000 lying around to build out their filters, and lack the leverage to extract favorable linking
licenses from news sites.
If Articles 11 and 13 pass, American companies will be in charge of Europe's conversations, deciding which photos and tweets and videos can be seen by the public, and who may speak.
So far, the focus in the debate has been on the intended consequences of the proposals: the idea that a certain amount of free expression and competition must be sacrificed to enable rightsholders to force Google and Facebook to
share their profits.
But the unintended -- and utterly foreseeable -- consequences are even more important. Article 11's link tax allows news sites to decide who gets to link to them, meaning that they can exclude their critics.
With election cycles dominated by hoaxes and fake news, the right of a news publisher to decide who gets to criticise it is carte blanche to lie and spin.
Article 13's copyright filters are even more vulnerable to attack: the
proposals contain no penalties for false claims of copyright ownership, but they do mandate that the filters must accept copyright claims in bulk, allowing rightsholders to upload millions of works at once in order to claim their copyright
and prevent anyone from posting them.
That opens the doors to all kinds of attacks. The obvious one is that trolls might sow mischief by uploading millions of works they don't hold the copyright to, in order to prevent others from
quoting them: the works of Shakespeare, say, or everything ever posted to Wikipedia, or my novels, or your family photos.
More insidious is the possibility of targeted strikes during crisis: stock-market manipulators could use
bots to claim copyright over news about a company, suppressing its sharing on social media; political actors could suppress key articles during referendums or elections; corrupt governments could use arms-length trolls to falsely claim ownership of
footage of human rights abuses.
It's asymmetric warfare: falsely claiming a copyright will be easy (because the rightsholders who want this system will not tolerate jumping through hoops to make their claims) and instant (because
rightsholders won't tolerate delays when their new releases are being shared online at their moment of peak popularity). Removing a false claim of copyright will require that a human at an internet giant looks at it, sleuths out the truth of the
ownership of the work, and adjusts the database -- for millions of works at once. Bots will be able to pollute the copyright databases much faster than humans could possibly clear it.
I spoke with Wired UK's KG Orphanides about
this, and their excellent article on the proposal is the best explanation I've seen of the uses of these copyright filters to create
unstoppable disinformation campaigns.
Doctorow highlighted the potential for unanticipated abuse of any automated copyright filtering system to make false copyright claims, engage in targeted harassment and even
silence public discourse at sensitive times.
"Because the directive does not provide penalties for abuse -- and because rightsholders will not tolerate delays between claiming copyright over a work and suppressing its public
display -- it will be trivial to claim copyright over key works at key moments or use bots to claim copyrights on whole corpuses.
The nature of automated systems, particularly if powerful rightsholders insist that they default to
initially blocking potentially copyrighted material and then releasing it if a complaint is made, would make it easy for griefers to use copyright claims over, for example, relevant Wikipedia articles on the eve of a Greek debt-default referendum or,
more generally, public domain content such as the entirety of Wikipedia or the complete works of Shakespeare.
"Making these claims will be MUCH easier than sorting them out -- bots can use cloud providers all over the world
to file claims, while companies like Automattic (WordPress) or Twitter, or even projects like Wikipedia, would have to marshall vast armies to sort through the claims and remove the bad ones -- and if they get it wrong and remove a legit copyright claim,
they face unbelievable copyright liability."
Politicians, about to vote in favor of mandatory upload filtering in Europe, get channel deleted by YouTube's upload filtering.
French politicians of the former Front National are furious: their entire YouTube channel was just
taken down by automatic filters at YouTube for alleged copyright violations. Perhaps this will cause them to reconsider next week's vote, which they have announced they will support: the bill that will make exactly this arbitrary, political, and
unilateral upload filtering mandatory all across Europe.
The French party Front National, now renamed Rassemblemant National (national rally point), which is one of biggest parties in France, have gotten their YouTube channel
disappeared on grounds of alleged copyright violations. In an interview with French Europe1, their leader Marine Le Pen calls the takedown arbitrary, political, and unilateral.
Europe is about to vote on new copyright law next
week. Next Wednesday or Thursday. So let's disregard here for a moment that this happened to a party normally described as far-right, and observe that if it can happen to one of France's biggest parties regardless of their policies, then it can happen to
anyone for political reasons 204 or any other reason.
The broadcast named TVLibert39s is gone, described by YouTube as YouTube has blocked the broadcast of the newscast of Thursday, June 14 for copyright infringement.
Marine Le Pen was quoted as saying, This measure is completely false; we can easily assert a right of quotation [to illustrate why the material was well within the law to broadcast].
She's right. Automated
upload filters do not take into account when you have a legal right to broadcast copyrighted material for one of the myriad of valid reasons. They will just assume that this such reasons never exist; if nothing else, to make sure that the hosting
platform steers clear of any liability. Political messages will be disappeared on mere allegations by a political opponent, just as might have happened here.
And yet, the Rassemblemant National is going to vote in favor of exactly
this mandatory upload filtering. The horror they just described on national TV as arbitrary, political, and unilateral.
It's hard to illustrate clearer that Europe's politicians have absolutely no idea about the monster they're
voting on next week.
The decisions to come will be unilateral, political, and arbitrary. Freedom of speech will be unilateral, political, and arbitrary. Just as Marine Le Pen says. Just as YouTube's Content ID filtering is today,
as has just been illustrated.
The article mandating this unilateral, political, and arbitrary censorship is called Article 13 of the upcoming European Copyright bill, and it must be removed entirely. There is no fixing of
automated censorship machines.
Privacy remains your own responsibility. So do your freedoms of speech, information, and expression.
Award winning rappers Farid Bang and Kollegah will not face prosecution over lyrics that referenced Auschwitz and the Holocaust .
A few people were offended when Kollegah and Farid Bang compared their bodies with those of Auschwitz
prisoners, and also by a suggestion that they were doing another Holocaust.
However, prosecutors have said their artistic freedom was guaranteed by the constitution, and while the rap lyrics were deemed offensive, they did not amount to Holocaust
denial or incitement of violence.
Dusseldorf prosecutor's office spokesman Ralf Herrenbruck told German media that while the words may have been vulgar, misogynistic and homophobic, it would not be possible to bring charges, saying it was neither
an endorsement nor a trivialisation of the Nazi regime and its genocide. A statement explained:
The comparison of a concentration camp inmate with their own body may be tasteless, but it does not represent denial of
The two 'offending' lines from their latest album J BG3 (Young, brutal, good looking 3).
One track includes the words: My body is more defined than those of Auschwitz inmates.
Another has the lyric: I'm doing another Holocaust, coming with the Molotov.
David Kaye, the UN's Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression has now chimed in with a very thorough report, highlighting how Article 13 of the Directive -- the part about mandatory copyright filters -- would be a disaster for free speech and would
violate the UN's Declaration on Human Rights, and in particular Article 19 which says:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to
seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.
As Kaye's report notes, the upload filters of Article 13 of the Copyright Directive would almost certainly violate this principle.
Article 13 of the proposed Directive appears likely to incentivize content-sharing providers to restrict at the point of upload user-generated content that is perfectly legitimate and lawful. Although the latest proposed
versions of Article 13 do not explicitly refer to upload filters and other content recognition technologies, it couches the obligation to prevent the availability of copyright protected works in vague terms, such as demonstrating best efforts and taking
effective and proportionate measures. Article 13(5) indicates that the assessment of effectiveness and proportionality will take into account factors such as the volume and type of works and the cost and availability of measures, but these still leave
considerable leeway for interpretation.
The significant legal uncertainty such language creates does not only raise concern that it is inconsistent with the Article 19(3) requirement that restrictions on freedom of expression
should be provided by law. Such uncertainty would also raise pressure on content sharing providers to err on the side of caution and implement intrusive content recognition technologies that monitor and filter user-generated content at the point of
upload. I am concerned that the restriction of user-generated content before its publication subjects users to restrictions on freedom of expression without prior judicial review of the legality, necessity and proportionality of such restrictions.
Exacerbating these concerns is the reality that content filtering technologies are not equipped to perform context-sensitive interpretations of the valid scope of limitations and exceptions to copyright, such as fair comment or reporting, teaching,
criticism, satire and parody.
Kaye further notes that copyright is not the kind of thing that an algorithm can readily determine, and the fact-specific and context-specific nature of copyright requires much more than just throwing
algorithms at the problem -- especially when a website may face legal liability for getting it wrong.
The designation of such mechanisms as the main avenue to address users' complaints effectively delegates content
blocking decisions under copyright law to extrajudicial mechanisms, potentially in violation of minimum due process guarantees under international human rights law. The blocking of content -- particularly in the context of fair use and other
fact-sensitive exceptions to copyright -- may raise complex legal questions that require adjudication by an independent and impartial judicial authority. Even in exceptional circumstances where expedited action is required, notice-and-notice regimes and
expedited judicial process are available as less invasive means for protecting the aims of copyright law.
In the event that content blocking decisions are deemed invalid and reversed, the complaint and redress mechanism
established by private entities effectively assumes the role of providing access to remedies for violations of human rights law. I am concerned that such delegation would violate the State's obligation to provide access to an effective remedy for
violations of rights specified under the Covenant. Given that most of the content sharing providers covered under Article 13 are profit-motivated and act primarily in the interests of their shareholders, they lack the qualities of independence and
impartiality required to adjudicate and administer remedies for human rights violations. Since they also have no incentive to designate the blocking as being on the basis of the proposed Directive or other relevant law, they may opt for the legally safer
route of claiming that the upload was a terms of service violation -- this outcome may deprive users of even the remedy envisioned under Article 13(7). Finally, I wish to emphasize that unblocking, the most common remedy available for invalid content
restrictions, may often fail to address financial and other harms associated with the blocking of timesensitive content.
He goes on to point that while large platforms may be able to deal with all of this, smaller ones are going to be
in serious trouble:
I am concerned that the proposed Directive will impose undue restrictions on nonprofits and small private intermediaries. The definition of an online content sharing provider under Article 2(5) is
based on ambiguous and highly subjective criteria such as the volume of copyright protected works it handles, and it does not provide a clear exemption for nonprofits. Since nonprofits and small content sharing providers may not have the financial
resources to establish licensing agreements with media companies and other right holders, they may be subject to onerous and legally ambiguous obligations to monitor and restrict the availability of copyright protected works on their platforms. Although
Article 13(5)'s criteria for effective and proportionate measures take into account the size of the provider concerned and the types of services it offers, it is unclear how these factors will be assessed, further compounding the legal uncertainty that
nonprofits and small providers face. It would also prevent a diversity of nonprofit and small content-sharing providers from potentially reaching a larger size, and result in strengthening the monopoly of the currently established providers, which could
be an impediment to the right to science and culture as framed in Article 15 of the ICESCR.
Kissing Candice is a 2017 Ireland / UK drama by Aoife McArdle. Starring Ann Skelly, Ryan Lincoln and Conall Keating.
17 year old Candice longs to escape her seaside town and finds solace in her
imagination. When her disillusionment calcifies into an obsession with a troubled stranger, she becomes entangled with a dangerous local gang.
THE Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) has upheld an 18 rating for an Irish film by a
debut director Aoife McArdle despite the film being given a 15 rating in the UK.
Kissing Candice is a youth oriented film about a young girl in a border town who first dreams of and then meets a young boy who's connected to a gang that is
terrorising her town.
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and has been shown at other youth-orientated festivals.
Wildcard Distribution is the Irish distributor for the film and its managing director Patrick
O'Neill has said that the company was surprised when it was given an 18 cert:
We just thought the rating was a little harsh for the film, we just thought something along the lines of a 15A or a 16 would have been more
in keeping with the content of the film.
IFCO's 18 rating has the consumer advice: contains scenes of strong drugs abuse, strong violence and language and strong sex references.
The UK's BBFC was less severe in its
rating of the film, giving it an uncut 15 rating for very strong language, strong threat, drug misuse.
Kissing Candice is released in Irish cinemas on 22 June
As Europe's latest copyright proposal heads to a critical vote on June 20-21, more than 70 Internet and
computing luminaries have spoken out against a dangerous provision, Article 13, that would require Internet platforms to automatically filter uploaded content. The group, which includes Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, the inventor of the World Wide Web Tim
Berners-Lee, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, co-founder of the Mozilla Project Mitchell Baker, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, cryptography expert Bruce Schneier, and net neutrality expert Tim Wu , wrote in a
joint letter that was released today :
By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the
content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.
The prospects for the elimination of Article 13 have continued to worsen. Until late last month, there was the hope that that Member States (represented by the Council of the European Union) would find a compromise. Instead, their
final negotiating mandate doubled down on it.
The last hope for defeating the proposal now lies with the European Parliament. On June 20-21 the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee will vote on the proposal. If it votes against upload
filtering, the fight can continue in the Parliament's subsequent negotiations with the Council and the European Commission. If not, then automatic filtering of all uploaded content may become a mandatory requirement for all user content platforms that
serve European users. Although this will pose little impediment to the largest platforms such as YouTube, which already uses its Content ID system to filter content, the law will create an expensive barrier to entry for smaller platforms and startups, which may choose to establish or move their operations overseas in order to avoid the European law.
For those platforms that do establish upload filtering, users will find that their contributions--including video, audio, text, and even source code --will be
monitored and potentially blocked if the automated system detects what it believes to be a copyright infringement. Inevitably, mistakes will happen . There is no
way for an automated system to reliably determine when the use of a copyright work falls within a copyright limitation or exception under European law, such as quotation or parody.
Moreover, because these exceptions are not
consistent across Europe, and because there is no broad fair use right as in the United States, many harmless uses of copyright works in memes, mashups, and remixes probably are technically infringing even if no reasonable copyright owner would
object. If an automated system monitors and filters out these technical infringements, then the permissible scope of freedom of expression in Europe will be radically curtailed, even without the need for any substantive changes in copyright law.
The upload filtering proposal stems from a misunderstanding about the purpose of copyright
. Copyright isn't designed to compensate creators for each and every use of their works. It is meant to incentivize creators as part of an effort to promote the public interest in innovation and expression. But that public interest isn't served
unless there are limitations on copyright that allow new generations to build and comment on the previous contributions . Those limitations are both legal, like fair dealing, and practical, like the zone of tolerance for harmless uses. Automated upload
filtering will undermine both.
The authors of today's letter write:
We support the consideration of measures that would improve the ability for creators to receive fair remuneration for the use
of their works online. But we cannot support Article 13, which would mandate Internet platforms to embed an automated infrastructure for monitoring and censorship deep into their networks. For the sake of the Internet's future, we urge you to vote for
the deletion of this proposal.
What began as a bad idea offered up to copyright lobbyists as a solution to an imaginary "
value gap " has now become an outright crisis for future of the Internet as we know it. Indeed, if
those who created and sustain the operation of the Internet recognize the scale of this threat, we should all be sitting up and taking notice.
If you live in Europe or have European friends or family, now could be your last
opportunity to avert the upload filter. Please take action by clicking the button below, which will take you to a campaign website where you can phone, email, or Tweet at your representatives, urging them to stop this threat to the global Internet before
it's too late.
The pending update to the EU Copyright Directive is coming up for a committee vote on June 20 or 21 and a parliamentary vote either in early July or late September. While the directive fixes some longstanding problems with EU rules, it creates much, much
larger ones: problems so big that they threaten to wreck the Internet itself.
Under Article 13 of the
proposal , sites that allow users to post text, sounds, code, still or moving images, or other copyrighted works for public consumption will have to filter all their users' submissions against a database of copyrighted works. Sites will have to pay
to license the technology to match submissions to the database, and to identify near matches as well as exact ones. Sites will be required to have a process to allow rightsholders to update this list with more copyrighted works.
Even under the best of circumstances, this presents huge problems. Algorithms that do content-matching are frankly terrible at it. The Made-in-the-USA version of this is YouTube's Content ID system, which improperly flags legitimate works all the time, but still gets flack from entertainment companies for not doing more.
There are lots of legitimate reasons for Internet users to upload copyrighted works. You might upload a clip from a nightclub (or a protest, or a technical presentation) that includes some copyrighted music in the background. Or
you might just be wearing a t-shirt with your favorite album cover in your Tinder profile. You might upload the cover of a book you're selling on an online auction site, or you might want to post a photo of your sitting room in the rental listing for
your flat, including the posters on the wall and the picture on the TV.
Wikipedians have even more specialised reasons to upload material: pictures of celebrities, photos taken at newsworthy events, and so on.
But the bots that Article 13 mandates will not be perfect. In fact, by design, they will be wildly imperfect.
Article 13 punishes any site that fails to block copyright infringement, but it won't punish people
who abuse the system. There are no penalties for falsely claiming copyright over someone else's work, which means that someone could upload all of Wikipedia to a filter system (for instance, one of the many sites that incorporate Wikpedia's content into
their own databases) and then claim ownership over it on Twitter, Facebook and Wordpress, and everyone else would be prevented from quoting Wikipedia on any of those services until they sorted out the false claims. It will be a lot easier to make
these false claims that it will be to figure out which of the hundreds of millions of copyrighted claims are real and which ones are pranks or hoaxes or censorship attempts.
Article 13 also leaves you out in the cold when your own
work is censored thanks to a malfunctioning copyright bot. Your only option when you get censored is to raise an objection with the platform and hope they see it your way--but if they fail to give real consideration to your petition, you have to go to
court to plead your case.
Article 13 gets Wikipedia coming and going: not only does it create opportunities for unscrupulous or incompetent people to block the sharing of Wikipedia's content beyond its bounds, it could also
require Wikipedia to filter submissions to the encyclopedia and its surrounding projects, like Wikimedia Commons. The drafters of Article 13 have
tried to carve Wikipedia out of the rule , but thanks to sloppy drafting, they have failed: the exemption is limited
to "noncommercial activity". Every file on Wikipedia is licensed for commercial use.
Then there's the websites that Wikipedia relies on as references. The fragility and impermanence of links is already a serious problem
for Wikipedia's crucial footnotes, but after Article 13 becomes law, any information hosted in the EU might disappear--and links to US mirrors might become infringing--at any moment thanks to an overzealous copyright bot. For these reasons and many more,
the Wikimedia Foundation has taken a public position condemning Article 13.
Speaking of references: the
problems with the new copyright proposal don't stop there. Under Article 11, each member state will get to create a new copyright in news. If it passes, in order to link to a news website, you will either have to do so in a way that satisfies the
limitations and exceptions of all 28 laws, or you will have to get a license. This is fundamentally incompatible with any sort of wiki (obviously), much less Wikipedia.
It also means that the websites that Wikipedia relies on for
its reference links may face licensing hurdles that would limit their ability to cite their own sources. In particular, news sites may seek to withhold linking licenses from critics who want to quote from them in order to analyze, correct and critique
their articles, making it much harder for anyone else to figure out where the positions are in debates, especially years after the fact. This may not matter to people who only pay attention to news in the moment, but it's a blow to projects that seek to
present and preserve long-term records of noteworthy controversies. And since every member state will get to make its own rules for quotation and linking, Wikipedia posts will have to satisfy a patchwork of contradictory rules, some of which are already
so severe that they'd ban any items in a "Further Reading" list unless the article directly referenced or criticized them.
The controversial measures in the new directive have been tried before. For example, link taxes
were tried in Spain and Germany and they failed , and
publishers don't want them . Indeed, the only country to embrace this idea as workable is
China , where mandatory copyright enforcement bots have become part of the national toolkit for controlling
Articles 13 and 11 are poorly thought through, poorly drafted, unworkable--and dangerous. The collateral damage they will impose on every realm of public life can't be overstated. The Internet, after all, is
inextricably bound up in the daily lives of hundreds of millions of Europeans and an entire constellation of sites
and services will be adversely affected by Article 13. Europe can't afford to place education, employment, family life, creativity, entertainment, business, protest, politics, and a thousand other activities at the mercy of unaccountable algorithmic
filters. If you're a European concerned about these proposals, here's a tool for contacting your MEP .
Is there an internet equivalent of a Freudian slip? Well if so, Google obliged with this listing on its Google News service.
Perhaps Google should have pointed out that such a ban false information will also usefully silence all politicians from all
parties in the run up to elections.
Politicians in France have proposed introducing a new law to fight fake news in the run up to an election next year. The draft law, designed to stop what the government calls manipulation of information in the
run-up to elections, will be debated in parliament Thursday with a view to it being put into action during next year's European parliamentary polls.
The idea for the bill came straight from President Emmanuel Macron , who was himself targeted
during his 2017 campaign by online rumours that he was gay and had a secret bank account in the Bahamas.
Under the law, French authorities would be able to immediately halt the publication of information deemed to be false ahead of elections.
Social networks would have to introduce measures allowing users to flag up false reports, pass their data on such articles to authorities, and make public their efforts against fake news. And the law would authorise the state to take foreign broadcasters
off the air if they were attempting to destabilise France - a measure seemingly aimed at Russian state-backed outlet RT in particular.
The government claims measures will be built into the law to protect freedom of speech, with only reports that
are manifestly false and that have gone viral - notably with the help of bots - taken down.
Update: French MPs criticise 'fake news' censorship law
The French government was accused by right and leftwing opponents of trying to create a form of thought police and institute censorship, as parliament began debating Emmanuel Macron's proposed law to ban 'fake news' on the internet during election
The draft law would allow political parties to complain about widely spread assertions deemed to be false or implausible and a French judge could immediately move to stop their publication.
President Macron has personally backed
the censorship law after he complained his presidential campaign was targeted by online fake news rumours, including that he was gay and that he had a secret bank account in the Bahamas. He has claimed a law was needed against the spread of 'fake news'
in order to protect democracy.
The government wants the law to come into force before next spring's European parliament elections . It is likely to pass because Macron has a parliamentary majority.
The EU's plans to modernize copyright law in Europe are moving ahead. With a crucial vote coming up later this month, protests from various opponents are on the rise as well. They warn that the proposed plans will result in Internet filters which
threaten people's ability to freely share content online. According to Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda, these filters will hurt regular Internet users, but also creators and businesses.
September 2016, the European Commission
published its proposal for a modernized copyright law. Among other things, it proposed measures to require online services to do more to fight piracy.
Specifically, Article 13 of the proposed Copyright Directive will require
online services to track down and delete pirated content, in collaboration with rightsholders.
The Commission stressed that the changes are needed to support copyright holders. However, many legal scholars , digital activists ,
politicians , and members of the public worry that they will violate the rights of regular Internet users.
Last month the EU Council finalized the latest version of the proposal. This means that the matter now goes to the Legal
Affairs Committee of the Parliament (JURI), which must decide how to move ahead. This vote is expected to take place in two weeks.
Although the term filter is commonly used to describe Article 13, it is not directly mentioned in
the text itself .
According to Pirate Party Member of Parliament (MEP) Julia Reda , the filter keyword is avoided in the proposal to prevent a possible violation of EU law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. However, the
outcome is essentially the same.
In short, the relevant text states that online services are liable for any uploaded content unless they take effective and proportionate action to prevent copyright infringements, identified by
copyright holders. That also includes preventing these files from being reuploaded.
The latter implies some form of hash filtering and continuous monitoring of all user uploads. Several companies, including Google Drive, Dropbox,
and YouTube already have these types of filters, but many others don't.
A main point of critique is that the automated upload checks will lead to overblocking, as they are often ill-equipped to deal with issues such as fair use.
The proposal would require platforms to filter all uploads by their users for potential copyright infringements -- not just YouTube and Facebook, but also services like WordPress, TripAdvisor, or even Tinder. We know from
experience that these algorithmic filters regularly make mistakes and lead to the mass deletion of legal uploads, Julia Reda tells TF.
Especially small independent creators frequently see their content taken down because others
wrongfully claim copyright on their works. There are no safeguards in the proposal against such cases of copyfraud.
Besides affecting uploads of regular Internet users and smaller creators, many businesses will also be hit. They
will have to make sure that they can detect and prevent infringing material from being shared on their systems.
This will give larger American Internet giants, who already have these filters in place, a competitive edge over
smaller players and new startups, the Pirate Party MEP argues.
It will make those Internet giants even stronger, because they will be the only ones able to develop and sell the filtering technologies necessary to comply with the
law. A true lose-lose situation for European Internet users, authors and businesses, Reda tells us.
Based on the considerable protests in recent days, the current proposal is still seen as a clear threat by many.
In fact, the save youri nternet campaign, backed by prominent organizations such as Creative Commons, EFF, and Open Media, is ramping up again. They urge the
European public to reach out to their Members of Parliament before it's too late.
Should Article 13 of the Copyright Directive proposal be adopted, it will impose widespread censorship of all the content you share online. The
European Parliament is the only one that can step in and Save your Internet, they write.
The full Article 13 text includes some language to limit its scope. The nature and size of online services must be taken into account, for
example. This means that a small and legitimate niche service with a few dozen users might not be directly liable if it operates without these anti-piracy measures.
Similarly, non-profit organizations will not be required to
comply with the proposed legislation, although there are calls from some member states to change this.
In addition to Article 13, there is also considerable pushback from the public against Article 11, which is regularly referred
to as the link tax .
At the moment, several organizations are planning a protest day next week, hoping to mobilize the public to speak out. A week later, following the JURI vote, it will be judgment day.
they pass the Committee the plans will progress towards the final vote on copyright reform next Spring. This also means that they'll become much harder to stop or change. That has been done before, such as with ACTA, but achieving that type of momentum
will be a tough challenge.
...In common with the internet, this lightning take-up of VHS bypassed barriers built to meet the threat outlined by the Council of Irish Bishops in 1927. They warned:
The Evil One is ever setting his snares for unwary
feet. At this moment his traps are chiefly the dance hall, the bad book, the indecent paper, the motion picture, the immodest fashion in female dress - all of which tend to destroy the virtuous characteristics of our race.
The Free State quickly appointed its first film censor, James Montgomery, who worked tirelessly to turn back the tide of foreign filth. Montgomery proudly boasted:
I know nothing about films but I
do know the Ten Commandments.
And so it remained into modern times, with the Nanny State taking a firm hand in protecting the Irish people from themselves. While Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft were being nominated
for Oscars for The Graduate in 1968, Irish cinema audiences were watching a version in which the seduction scene between the two - the pivotal point on which the whole movie hinges - was ripped out to protect public morals.
The European Court of Human Rights has overturned the Maltese courts' decision to ban the play Stitching, eight years after the controversial judgment had incensed the local artistic scene.
The ECHR awarded €10,000 as legal costs as well as
€10,000 in moral damages jointly to Unifaun Theatre Productions Limited, as well as director Chris Gatt and actors Pia Zammit and Mike Basmadjian. The court's decision was unanimous, including Maltese judge Vincent de Gaetano.
had been banned in 2010 by the Maltese court, a decision confirmed by the Constitutional Court of Appeal, after it was flagged by the now defunct Film and Stage Classification Board.
The Maltese court had ruled in 2010 that it was unacceptable in
a democratic society founded on the rule of law for any person to be allowed to swear in public, even in a theatre as part of a script. He pointed out that the country's values could not be turned upside down in the name of freedom of expression.
The censorship of Stitching had a knock on effect to media censorship in Malta. The government had in 2012 changed the censorship laws , effectively stopping the possibility of theatrical productions being banned and lightening up on film censorship bringing it more in line with other European countries.
Before a movie is released in German theaters, the Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen ( FSK) decides on an age rating so as to protect children from 'harmful influences'.
The FSK is based on voluntary self censorship to buffer the
local film industry from controversy and state censorship. The organisation is based in the German Film House in Wiesbaden. Around 280 volunteers review thousands of films every year and decide which age groups to show - from age 6, age 12, age 16 or 18.
FSK's 280 volunteers have no connection to the film industry. They pursue different professions, but have experience in dealing with children and adolescents, and know their stages of development. FSK spokesman Stefan Linz told DW:
Five days a week, we carry out investigations in various committees.
The basis for the work of the FSK is the German Youth Protection Act, which provides for different age ratings for media. The color white means
that there are no restrictions for a movie. For the age group of six to twelve years is yellow. Green requires parenting for ages of six or twelve. From the age of 16, the category is blue, while red indicates that a movie is not considered suitable for
young people under the age of 18.
The law also defines the rules of assessment of media. For example, a film may not be shown to children of a certain age group if the examiners believe that it could affect their development as self-responsible
and socially competent people. Linz commented:
Of course this is totally abstract to the assessment of content that could potentially be problematic. But not only can we say that about us, but about all forms of
protection of minors around the world, especially the portrayal of violence, sexuality, the use of drugs, alcohol and nicotine, bad role models and antisocial behavior or threats to others.
The origin of the FSK dates back to the
postwar period. At that time, the Allies strove to denazify all social and social aspects in Germany, and to build the then West Germany as a democratic state with freedom of expression. Representatives of the German film industry, who had come back from
exile, together with American occupation authorities in 1948 built a voluntary self-control system for the film industry after the model of the American system of that time.
From these initiatives finally the FSK was born, which gave its first
film evaluation on 18 July 1949. The film Intimitäten by Paul Martin (1944) was not suitable for young people under 16 - and may not be shown on some religious holidays.
In the former GDR, all films were controlled by socialist authorities,
until after the reunification of the new states joined the FSK.
German age guidelines differ those of the USA. For example the German film Toni Erdmann , which was produced in 2016 and became a worldwide hit and received an Oscar
nomination, was rated R by the MPAA in the USA. This stipulates that young people under the age of 17 are only allowed to watch the movie when accompanied by an adult. The rationale was: The film contains heavily sexualized content, graphic nudity,
violent language and short scenes of drug abuse. In Germany, the FSK judged the same film as suitable for adolescents from the age of 12, this restriction being justified by a somewhat strange, emotionless sex scene without intercourse. The aspects cited
by MPAA , that is, language, drugs and nudity, played no role for the FSK - despite a rather extensive naked party scene.
According to Stefan Linz, the differences between age ratings by the FSK and MPAA are explained by cultural attitudes. In
particular, Germans and Americans have a completely different attitude to nudity. While there has long been a large naturist scene in Germany, public nudity in the US is still considered scandalous.
The FSK does not classify nudity in itself as
problematic, says Linz, referring to documentation on nudist communities that have been released for all ages. However, FSK is less generous when nudity in a movie has a sexual meaning or occurs in a sexualized context.
Linz is also of the opinion
that attitudes to linguistic usage also differ in the German and English-speaking world. However, this aspect also points to differences in the approach of FSK and MPAA. In the eyes of the American institution, the repeated use of sexual terms as a swear
word justifies an age restriction.
By contrast, in the FSC, numerical ratios are irrelevant when assessing language. Instead, more emphasis is placed on the specific context. Who speaks like the swear word? When a couple of bad words fly back and
forth between friends, for example in hip-hop circles, that has a very different meaning than if the same nasty word is used in a discriminatory or even directly offensive manner, says Linz.
In 2002, the movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of
Secrets caused a change in the rules. From then on, children between the ages of six and twelve were allowed to watch films for children from the age of 12 if accompanied by a parent.
It hasn't taken long for Germany's new internet censorship to be used against the trivial name calling of politicians.
A recent German law was intended to put a stop to hate speech, but its difficult and commercially expensive to bother
considering every case on its merits, so its just easier and cheaper for internet companies to censor everything asked for.
So of course easily offended politician are quick to ask for trivial name calling insults to be taken down. But now there's
a twist, for an easily offended politician, it is not enough for Facebook to block an insult in Germany, it must be blocked worldwide.
Courthouse News Service reports that a German court has indulged a politician's hypocritical outrage to demand
the disappearance of an insulting comment posted to Facebook.
Alice Weidel, co-leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, objected to a Facebook post calling her a dirty Nazi swine for her opposition to same-sex marriage. Facebook
immediately complied, but Weidel's lawyers complained it hadn't been vanished hard enough, pointing out that German VPN users could still access the comment.
Facebook's only comment, via Reuters, was to note it had already blocked the content in
Germany , which is all the law really requires.
Of course once you allow mere insults to be censorable, you then hit the issue of fairness. Insults against some PC favoured groups are totally off limits and are considered to be a PC crime of the
century, whilst insults against others (eg white men) are positively encouraged.
Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market destined to become a nightmare
OPEN LETTER IN LIGHT OF THE 27 APRIL 2018 COREPER I MEETING
Your Excellency Ambassador, cc. Deputy Ambassador,
We, the undersigned, are writing to you ahead of your COREPER discussion on the proposed Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market.
We are deeply concerned that the text proposed by the Bulgarian
Presidency in no way reflects a balanced compromise, whether on substance or from the perspective of the many legitimate concerns that have been raised. Instead, it represents a major threat to the freedoms of European citizens and businesses and
promises to severely harm Europe's openness, competitiveness, innovation, science, research and education.
A broad spectrum of European stakeholders and experts, including academics, educators, NGOs representing human rights and
media freedom, software developers and startups have repeatedly warned about the damage that the proposals would cause. However, these have been largely dismissed in rushed discussions taking place without national experts being present. This rushed
process is all the more surprising when the European Parliament has already announced it would require more time (until June) to reach a position and is clearly adopting a more cautious approach.
If no further thought is put in
the discussion, the result will be a huge gap between stated intentions and the damage that the text will actually achieve if the actual language on the table remains:
Article 13 (user uploads) creates a liability regime for a vast area of online platforms that negates the E-commerce Directive, against the stated will of many Member States, and without any proper assessment of its impact. It
creates a new notice and takedown regime that does not require a notice. It mandates the use of filtering technologies across the board.
Article 11 (press publisher's right) only contemplates creating publisher rights despite
the many voices opposing it and highlighting it flaws, despite the opposition of many Member States and despite such Member States proposing several alternatives including a "presumption of transfer".
(text and data mining) cannot be limited in terms of scope of beneficiaries or purposes if the EU wants to be at the forefront of innovations such as artificial intelligence. It can also not become a voluntary provision if we want to leverage the wealth
of expertise of the EU's research community across borders.
Articles 4 to 9 must create an environment that enables educators, researchers, students and cultural heritage professionals to embrace the digital environment and
be able to preserve, create and share knowledge and European culture. It must be clearly stated that the proposed exceptions in these Articles cannot be overridden by contractual terms or technological protection measures.
The interaction of these various articles has not even been the subject of a single discussion. The filters of Article 13 will cover the snippets of Article 11 whilst the limitations of Article 3 will be amplified by the rights created through Article 11, yet none of these aspects have even been assessed.
With so many legal uncertainties and collateral damages still present, this legislation is currently destined to become a nightmare when it will have to be transposed into national legislation and face the test of its legality in
terms of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Bern Convention.
We hence strongly encourage you to adopt a decision-making process that is evidence-based, focussed on producing copyright rules that are fit for purpose and on
avoiding unintended, damaging side effects.
The over 145 signatories of this open letter -- European and global organisations, as well as national organisations from 28 EU Member States,
represent human and digital rights, media freedom, publishers, journalists, libraries, scientific and research institutions, educational institutions including universities, creator representatives, consumers, software developers, start-ups, technology
businesses and Internet service providers.
EUROPE 1. Access Info Europe. 2. Allied for Startups. 3. Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER). 4. Civil Liberties Union for Europe
(Liberties). 5. Copyright for Creativity (C4C). 6. Create Refresh Campaign. 7. DIGITALEUROPE. 8. EDiMA. 9. European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA). 10. European Digital Learning
Network (DLEARN). 11. European Digital Rights (EDRi). 12. European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA). 13. European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES). 14. European University Association
(EUA). 15. Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU 16. Lifelong Learning Platform. 17. Public Libraries 2020 (PL2020). 18. Science Europe. 19. South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO). 20. SPARC Europe.
AUSTRIA 21. Freischreiber Österreich. 22. Internet Service Providers Austria (ISPA Austria).
BELGIUM 23. Net Users' Rights Protection Association (NURPA)
24. BESCO -- Bulgarian Startup Association. 25. BlueLink Foundation. 26. Bulgarian Association of Independent Artists and Animators (BAICAA). 27. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. 28. Bulgarian Library and Information Association
(BLIA). 29. Creative Commons Bulgaria. 30. DIBLA. 31. Digital Republic. 32. Hamalogika. 33. Init Lab. 34. ISOC Bulgaria. 35. LawsBG. 36. Obshtestvo.bg. 37. Open Project Foundation. 38. PHOTO
Forum. 39. Wikimedians of Bulgaria. C ROATIA 40. Code for Croatia
CYPRUS 41. Startup Cyprus
CZECH R EPUBLIC 42. Alliance pro otevrene vzdelavani (Alliance
for Open Education) 43. Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic. 44. Czech Fintech Association. 45. Ecumenical Academy. 46. EDUin.
DENMARK 47. Danish Association of Independent
Internet Media (Prauda) E STONIA. 48. Wikimedia Eesti
FINLAND 49. Creative Commons Finland. 50. Open Knowledge Finland. 51. Wikimedia Suomi.
Abilian. 53. Alliance Libre. 54. April. 55. Aquinetic. 56. Conseil National du Logiciel Libre (CNLL). 57. France Digitale. 58. l'ASIC. 59. Ploss Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (PLOSS-RA). 60. Renaissance Numérique. 61.
Syntec Numérique. 62. Tech in France. 63. Wikimédia France.
GERMANY 64. Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Medieneinrichtungen an Hochschulen e.V. (AMH). 65. Bundesverband Deutsche Startups. 66.
Deutscher Bibliotheksverband e.V. (dbv). 67. eco -- Association of the Internet Industry. 68. Factory Berlin. 69. Initiative gegen ein Leistungsschutzrecht (IGEL). 70. Jade Hochschule Wilhelmshaven/Oldenburg/Elsfleth. 71.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). 72. Landesbibliothekszentrum Rheinland-Pfalz. 73. Silicon Allee. 74. Staatsbibliothek Bamberg. 75. Ubermetrics Technologies. 76. Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt
(Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg). 77. University Library of Kaiserslautern (Technische Universität Kaiserslautern). 78. Verein Deutscher Bibliothekarinnen und Bibliothekare e.V. (VDB). 79. ZB MED -- Information Centre for Life
GREECE 80. Greek Free Open Source Software Society (GFOSS)
HUNGARY 81. Hungarian Civil Liberties Union. 82. ICT Association of Hungary -- IVSZ. 83.
IRELAND 84. Technology Ireland
ITALY 85. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights. 86. Istituto Italiano per la Privacy e la Valorizzazione dei
Dati. 87. Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CILD). 88. National Online Printing Association (ANSO).
LATVIA 89. Startin.LV (Latvian Startup Association). 90. Wikimedians of Latvia
LITHUANIA 91. Aresi Labs.
LUXEMBOURG. 92. Frënn vun der Ënn.
MALTA 93. Commonwealth Centre for
NETHERLANDS 94. Dutch Association of Public Libraries (VOB) 95. Kennisland.
POLAND 96. Centrum Cyfrowe. 97. Coalition for Open Education
(KOED). 98. Creative Commons Polska. 99. Elektroniczna BIBlioteka (EBIB Association). 100. ePan@stwo Foundation. 101. Fundacja Szkola z Klasa@ (School with Class Foundation). 102. Modern Poland Foundation. 103. Os@rodek
Edukacji Informatycznej i Zastosowan@ Komputerów w Warszawie (OEIiZK). 104. Panoptykon Foundation. 105. Startup Poland. 106. ZIPSEE.
PORTUGAL 107. Associação D3 -- Defesa dos Direitos Digitais
(D3). 108. Associação Ensino Livre. 109. Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL). 110. Associação para a Promoção e Desenvolvimento da Sociedade da Informação (APDSI).
ActiveWatch. 112. APADOR-CH (Romanian Helsinki Committee). 113. Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI) 114. Association of Producers and Dealers of IT&C equipment (APDETIC). 115. Center for Public Innovation. 116. Digital
Citizens Romania. 117. Kosson.ro Initiative. 118. Mediawise Society. 119. National Association of Public Librarians and Libraries in Romania (ANBPR).
SLOVENIA 122. Digitas Institute. 123. Forum za digitalno dru@bo (Digital Society Forum).
SPAIN 124. Asociación de Internautas. 125. Asociación Española de Startups (Spanish Startup Association)
126. MaadiX. 127. Sugus. 128. Xnet.
SWEDEN 129. Wikimedia Sverige
UK 130. Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA). 131. Open Rights Group
(ORG). 132. techUK.
GLOBAL 133. ARTICLE 19. 134. Association for Progressive Communications (APC). 135. Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT). 136. COMMUNIA Association. 137.
Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA). 138. Copy-Me. 139. Creative Commons. 140. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). 141. Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL). 142. Index on Censorship. 143.
International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR). 144. Media and Learning Association (MEDEA). 145. Open Knowledge International (OKI). 146. OpenMedia. 147. Software Heritage
Belgium has declared the loot box systems in FIFA 18, Overwatch , and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive illegal under Belgium gambling laws.
Belgium's Minister of Justice, Koen Greens stated that the offending content must be removed
from the games. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to 800,000 euros and imprisonment.
To determine whether the loot box systems were illegal the Belgium Gaming Commision looked at two factors -- whether a purchase could lead to a profit
or loss and whether or not the results of the "bet" were based on skill or merely luck. It was decided that FIFA 18, Overwatch and CS:GO all had elements of chance in their MT systems and as such fall under the gambling laws of the country.
Belgium has not set a deadline for the removal of the loot boxes but is rather looking to open a discussion with game makers regarding the issue.
Brussels may threaten social media companies with censorship laws unless they move urgently to tackle supposed 'fake news' and Cambridge Analytica-style data abuse.
The EU security commissioner, Julian King, said short-term, concrete plans needed to
be in place before the elections, when voters in 27 EU member states will elect MEPs.
Under King's ideas, social media companies would sign a voluntary code of conduct to prevent the misuse of platforms to pump out misleading information.
The code would include a pledge for greater transparency, so users would be made aware why their Facebook or Twitter feed was presenting them with certain adverts or stories. Another proposal is for political adverts to be accompanied with information about who paid for them.
The European Commission has outlined new requirements for telecoms companies, clouds, email service providers, and operators of messaging apps, to produce snooping data on a specified individual within six hours of a rquest.
The proposed European
Production Order will allow a judicial authority in one Member State to request electronic evidence (such as emails, text or messages in apps) directly from internet companies with an office in any Member State. The data may be nominally held overseas
but will still have to be produced.
That super-short deadline will only be imposed in the case of an emergency. Less urgent investigations have been offered a ten-day deadline.
A European Preservation Order will also be issued to stop
service providers deleting data.
The Production Orders will be applicable only to crimes punishable with a maximum sentence of at least three years, but governments have been artificially increasing maximum sentences for quite a while now to
ensure that relatively minor crimes can be classed as 'serious'.
The EU Commission has cited terrorism as the justifications for the new requirements, but a 3 year maximum sentence rather suggests that the these orders will be used for more widely
than just for terrorism prevention.
A Berlin court has issued an injunction ordering Facebook not to block a user and not to delete a comment
The order appears to be the first such court intervention against censorship in Germany.
Last year a new law called the Network
Enforcement Act (NetzDG) came into effect that effectively frces Facebook to over censor just in case it gets hit by ludicrously large fines. And it was an example of this over reaction by Facebook that is being challenged in court
The comment in
question was placed by Gabor B under a Basler Zeitung article that referenced anti-immigrant statements by Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister. The Germans are becoming ever more stupid, Gabor B's comment, posted in January, read. No wonder, since
they are every day littered with fake news from the left-wing Systemmedien about 'skilled workers', declining unemployment rates or Trump.
When Facebook removed his comment and hit him with a 30-day account suspension, Gabor B retained
conservative Hamburg lawyer Joachim Steinhöfel who is well known for taking on free-expression cases and is running something of a crusade against what he sees as Facebook's overenthusiastic application of the NetzDG.
The EU is mooting a new copyright regime for the largest market in the world, and the Commissioners who are drafting the new rules are completely captured by the entertainment industry, to the extent that they have ignored their own experts and produced
a farcical Big Content wishlist that includes the most extensive internet censorship regime the world has ever seen, perpetual monopolies for the biggest players, and a ban on European creators using Creative Commons licenses to share their works.
Since these filter systems are incredibly expensive to create and operate, anyone who wants to get into business competing with the companies that grew large without having to create systems like these will have to source hundreds of
millions in capital before they can even enter the market. Youtube 2018 can easily afford Content ID; Youtube 2005 would have been bankrupted if they'd had to build it.
And then there's the matter of banning Creative Commons
In order to bail out the largest newspapers in the EU, the Commission is proposing a Link Tax -- a fee that search engines and sites like Boing Boing will have to pay just for the right to link to news stories on the
web. This idea has been tried before in Spain and Germany and the newspapers who'd called for it quickly admitted it wasn't working and stopped using it.
But the new, worse-than-ever Link Tax contains a new wrinkle: rightsholders
will not be able to waive the right to be compensated under the Link Tax. That means that European creators -- who've released hundreds of millions of works under Creative Commons licenses that allow for free sharing without fee or permission -- will no
longer be able to choose the terms of a Creative Commons license; the inalienable, unwaivable right to collect rent any time someone links to your creations will invalidate the core clause in these licenses.
Europeans can write to
their MEPs and the European Commission using this joint Action Centre ; please act before it's too late.
The European Copyright Directive
was enacted in 2001 and is now woefully out of date. Thanks in large part to the work of Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda, many good ideas for updating European copyright law were put forward in a report of the European Parliament in July 2015. The European
Commission threw out most of these ideas, and instead released a legislative proposal in October 2016 that focused on giving new powers to publishers. That proposal was referred to several of the committees of the European Parliament, with the
Parliament's Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee taking the lead.
As the final text must also be accepted by the Council of the European Union (which can be considered as the second part of the EU's bicameral legislature), the Council
Presidency has recently been weighing in with its own "compromise" proposals (although this is something of a misnomer, as they do little to improve the Commission's original text, and in some respects make it worse). Not to be outdone, German
MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Axel Voss last month introduced a new set of his own proposals [PDF] for "compromise," which are somehow worse still. Since Voss leads the JURI committee, this is a big problem.
A loss of trust in Facebook in the light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal could prompt the EU to scrap its voluntary code of conduct on the removal of online hate speech in favour of legislation and heavy sanctions, European commission Vera Jourová
The EU's executive is examining how to have hateful content censored swiftly by social media platforms, with legislation being one option that could replace the current system.
JJourová said she would be grilling Sheryl Sandberg ,
Facebook's chief operating officer, later this week over unanswered questions about the company's past errors and future plans.
Jourove said she was wary of following the German path, because of the thin line between removing offensive material
and censorship, but said all options were on the table.
The European Commission proposes designating internet censors, which it euphemistically calls 'trusted flaggers', and then requiring internet hosting companies to censor whatever the 'trusted flaggers' say
The EU Commission has recommended an internet censorship decision sounding like something straight out of China. The system consists of designating police, state censors, commercial censors acting for the state, and perhaps independent groups like the
IWF. These are euphemistically known as trusted flaggers.
Website and content hosting companies will then be required to remove any content (nominally illegal content) in a timely manner.
The IWF usefully summarises the proposals as
The EU Commission's proposals to tackle illegal content online include:
Hosting providers and Member States being prepared to submit all monitoring information to the Commission, upon request, within six months (three months for terrorist content) in order for the Commission to assess whether
further legislation is required.
Recommends introducing definitions for "illegal content" and "trusted flaggers".
Fast track procedures should be introduced
for materials referred by trusted flaggers.
Hosting providers to publish a list of who they consider to be a "trusted flagger".
Automated takedown of content is
encouraged, but should have safeguards such as human oversight.
Terrorist content should be removed within one hour.
Over the last few years the European Union has been working on revising its rules on copyright . But the latest proposal from the head of the copyright committee would deny creators the right to refuse remuneration -- the right to share a work
without getting paid -- which could undermine the use of CC licenses if approved.
Ever since the European Commission released a lackluster draft Directive on copyright in 2016, Creative Commons, Communia Association , and dozens
of other organisations have been engaging policymakers in the Parliament to make crucial changes in order to protect user rights and the commons, enable research and education, and promote creativity and business opportunities in the digital market.
But as evidenced by the latest proposal, the direction of the copyright reform seems to be getting worse, not better. This week Axel Voss, the lead member of the European parliament (MEP) for the influential legal affairs committee,
released his own proposed changes to an especially controversial part of the draft Directive, Article 11. This is the provision that would introduce an additional right for press publishers to extract fees from news aggregators for incorporating short
snippets of--or even linking to--their content.
This press publisher's right (also commonly known as the "Link Tax") already poses a significant threat to an informed and literate society. But Voss wants to amplify its
worst features by asserting that press publishers will receive--whether they like it or not--an "inalienable right to obtain an [sic] fair and proportionate remuneration for such uses." This means that publishers will be required to
demand payment from news aggregators.
This inalienable right directly conflicts with publishers who wish to share freely and openly using Creative Commons licenses. As we've warned before , an unwaivable right to compensation
would interfere with the operation of open licensing by reserving a special and separate economic right above and beyond the intention of some publishers. For example, the Spanish news site eldiario.es releases all of their content online for free under
the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license . By doing so, they are granting to the public a worldwide, royalty-free license to use the work under certain terms. Other news publishers in Europe using CC licenses that could also find themselves
swept up under this new provision include La Stampa , 20 Minutos , and openDemocracy .
Forcing publishers who use CC to accept additional inalienable rights to be remunerated violates the letter and spirit of Creative Commons
licensing and denies publishers the freedom to conduct business and share content as they wish. The proposal would pose an existential threat to the over 1.3 billion CC-licensed works online, shared freely by hundreds of millions of creators from around
We support authors and creators, and we firmly believe in their right to choose to share, or to seek compensation for all or some uses of their works. At the same time, we must find solutions that also honor those au
thors who choose to share with few or no restrictions.
Voss' proposal must be rejected, and Article 11 should be deleted . It's been clear all along that an additional right for press publishers won't do much of anything to
support quality journalism or grow the digital single market. Instead, it will negatively affect access to information and the ability for publishers to share using the platforms, technologies, and terms beneficial to them.