Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

January 15 2014

Civil Society Calls on the ECHR's Grand Chamber to Overturn Delfi v. Estonia Ruling

Paris, 15 January 2014 — Last October, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling against an Estonian news portal (“Delfi”), making the platform liable for defamatory comments posted by third users. This ruling threatens to encourage privatised censorship and to severely undermine public debate online. From a legal perspective, as NGO Article 19 wrote at the time, “this judgment displays a profound failure to understand the EU legal framework regulating intermediary liability. In addition, it conveniently ignores relevant international standards in the area of freedom of expression on the Internet”. Many organizations and companies all across Europe have sent the following letter to the ECHR's president to support Delfi's appeal to the Court's “Grand Chamber”, which still has the power to overturn this dangerous ruling.

To:
Dean Spielmann
President ofEuropean Court of Human Rights
Council of Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg cedex
France

13 January 2014

Re: Grand Chamber referral in Delfi v. Estonia (Application no. 64569/09)

Dear President Spielmann and members of the panel:

We, the undersigned 69 media organisations, internet companies, human rights groups and academic institutions write to support the referral request that we understand has been submitted in the case of Delfi v. Estonia (Application No. 64569/09). Signatories to this letter include some of the largest global news organisations and internet companies including Google, Forbes, News Corp, Thomson Reuters, the New York Times, Bloomberg News, Guardian News and Media, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and Conde Nast; prominent European media companies and associations including the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association, Sanoma Media Netherlands B.V. and the European Publishers Council; national media outlets and journalists associations from across the continent; and advocacy groups including Index on Censorship, Greenpeace, the Center for Democracy and Technology and ARTICLE 19.

We understand that the applicant in the above-referenced case has requested that the chamber judgment of 10 October 2013 be referred to the Grand Chamber of the Court for reconsideration. We are writing to endorse Delfi’s request for a referral due to our shared concern that the chamber judgment, if it stands, would have serious adverse repercussions for freedom of expression and democratic openness in the digital era. In terms of Article 43 (2) of the Convention, we believe that liability for user-generated content on the Internet constitutes both a serious question affecting the interpretation or application of Article 10 of the Convention in the online environment and a serious issue of general importance.

The case involves the liability of an online news portal for third-party defamatory comments posted by readers on the portal’s website, below a news item. A unanimous chamber of the First Section found no violation of Article 10, even though the news piece itself was found to be balanced and contained no offensive language. The portal acted quickly to remove the defamatory comments as soon as it received a complaint from the affected person, the manager of a large private company.

We find the chamber’s arguments and conclusions deeply problematic for the following reasons.

First, the chamber judgment failed to clarify and address the nature of the duty imposed on websites carrying user-generated content: what are they to do to avoid civil and potentially criminal liability in such cases? The inevitable implication of the chamber ruling is that it is consistent with Article 10 to impose some form of strict liability on online publications for all third-party content they may carry. This would translate, in effect, into a duty to prevent the posting, for any period of time, of any user-generated content that may be defamatory.

Such a duty would place a very significant burden on most online news and comment operations – from major commercial outlets to small local newspapers, NGO websites and individual bloggers – and would be bound to produce significant censoring, or even complete elimination, of user comments to steer clear of legal trouble. The Delfi chamber appears not to have properly considered the implications for user comments, which on balance tend to enrich and democratize online debates, as part of the ‘public sphere’.

Such an approach is at odds with this Court’s recent jurisprudence, which has recognized that “[i]n light of its accessibility and its capacity to store and communicate vast amounts of information, the Internet plays an important role in enhancing the public’s access to news and facilitating the dissemination of information generally.”1 Likewise, in Ahmet Yildirim v. Turkey, the Second Section of the Court emphasised that “the Internet has now become one of the principal means of exercising the right to freedom of expression and information, providing as it does essential tools for participation in activities and discussions concerning political issues and issues of general interest”2.

Secondly, the chamber ruling is inconsistent with Council of Europe standards as well as the letter and spirit of European Union law. In a widely cited 2003 Declaration, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe urged member states to adopt the following policy:

“In cases where … service providers … store content emanating from other parties, member states may hold them co-responsible if they do not act expeditiously to remove or disable access to information or services as soon as they become aware … of their illegal nature.

When defining under national law the obligations of service providers as set out in the previous paragraph, due care must be taken to respect the freedom of expression of those who made the information available in the first place, as well as the corresponding right of users to the information.”3

The same position was essentially adopted by the European Union through the Electronic Commerce Directive of 2000. Under the Directive, member states cannot impose on intermediaries a general duty to monitor the legality of third-party communications; they can only be held liable if they fail to act “expeditiously” upon obtaining “actual knowledge” of any illegality. This approach is considered a crucial guarantee for freedom of expression since it tends to promote self-regulation, minimizes the need for private censorship, and prevents overbroad monitoring and filtering of user content that tends to have a chilling effect on online public debate.

Thirdly, it follows from the above that the Delfi chamber did not thoroughly assess whether the decisions of the Estonian authorities were “prescribed by law” within the meaning of Article 10 § 2. Under the E-Commerce Directive and relevant judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), it was not unreasonable for Delfi to believe that it would be protected by the “safe harbour” provisions of EU law in circumstances such as those of the current case4. The chamber ruling sets the Court on a potential course of collision with the case law of the CJEU and may also give rise to a conflict under Article 53 of the Convention.

Finally, the chamber ruling is also at odds with emerging practice in the member states, which are seeking innovative solutions to the unique complexities of the Internet. In the UK, for example, the new defamation reforms for England and Wales contain a number of regulations applicable specifically to defamation through the Internet, including with respect to anonymous third-party comments. Simply applying traditional rules of editorial responsibility is not the answer to the new challenges of the digital era. For similar reasons, related among others to the application of binding EU law, a recent Northern Ireland High Court judgment expressly chose not to follow the Delfi chamber ruling5.

For all these reasons, we strongly urge the Court to accept the applicant’s request for a referral that would allow the Grand Chamber to reconsider these issues, taking into account the points raised by the signatories in this letter. There is no question in our minds that the current case raises “a serious question affecting the interpretation” of Article 10 of the Convention as well as “a serious issue of general importance” (Art. 43).

Sincerely,

  • Algemene Vereniging van Beroepsjournalisten in België
  • American Society of News Editors
  • ARTICLE 19
  • Association of American Publishers, Inc
  • Association of European Journalists
  • Bloomberg
  • bvba Les Journaux Francophones Belges
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Conde Nast International Ltd.
  • Daily Beast Company, LLC
  • Digital First Media, LLC
  • Digital Media Law Project, Berkman Center for Internet & Society – Harvard University
  • Digital Rights Ireland
  • Dow Jones
  • Electronic Frontier Finland
  • Estonian Newspapers Assocation (Eesti Ajalehtede Liit)
  • EURALO (ICANN’s European At-Large Organization)
  • European Digital Rights (EDRi)
  • European Information Society Institute (EISi)
  • European Magazine Media Association
  • European Media Platform
  • European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA)
  • European Publishers Council
  • Federatie van periodieke pers, the Ppress
  • Forbes
  • Global Voices Advocacy
  • Google, Inc.
  • Greenpeace
  • Guardian News & Media Limited
  • Human Rights Center, Ghent University
  • Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
  • iMinds-KU Leuven, Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT
  • Index on Censorship
  • International Press Institute
  • Internet Democracy Project
  • La Quadrature du Net
  • Lithuanian Online Media Association
  • Mass Media Defence Center
  • Media Foundation Leipzig
  • Media Law Resource Center
  • Media Legal Defence Initiative
  • National Press Photographers Association
  • National Public Radio
  • Nederlands Genootschap van Hoofdredacteuren
  • Nederlands Uitgeversverbond (NUV)
  • Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten
  • Net Users’ Rights Protection Association
  • News Corp.
  • Newspaper Association of America
  • North Jersey Media Group, Inc
  • NRC Handelsblad
  • Online News Association
  • Open Media Coalition – Italy
  • Open Rights Group
  • Panoptykon
  • PEN International
  • PEN-Vlaanderen
  • Persvrijheidsfonds
  • Raad voor de Journalistiek
  • Radio Television Digital News Association
  • Raycom Media, Inc.
  • Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • Sanoma Media Netherlands B.V.
  • Telegraaf Media Groep NV
  • The New York Times Company
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Vlaamse Nieuwsmedia
  • Vlaamse Vereniging van Journalisten
  • Vrijschrift
  • World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
  • 1. Times Newspapers Ltd v. the United Kingdom (Nos. 1 and 2), Judgment of 10 March 2009, para. 27. See also Editorial Board of Pravoye Delo and Shtekel v. Ukraine, Judgment of 5 May 2011.
  • 2. Judgment of 18 December 2012, para. 54.
  • 3. Declaration on freedom of communication on the Internet, 28 May 2003, adopted at the 840th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies.
  • 4. The CJEU has ruled, with reference inter alia to Article 10 ECHR, that an Internet service provider cannot be required to install a system filtering (scanning) all electronic communication passing through its services as this would amount to a preventive measure and a disproportionate interference with its users’ freedom of expression and information. See Scarlet v. Sabam, Case C-70/10, Judgment of 24 November 2011; and Netlog v. Sabam, Case C-360/10, Judgment of 16 February 2012.
  • 5. J19 & Anor v Facebook Ireland [2013] NIQB 113 (15 November 2013), at http://www.bailii.org/nie/cases/NIHC/QB/2013/113.html.

August 26 2013

July 11 2013

Four short links: 11 July 2013

  1. Sifted — 7 minute animation set in a point cloud world, using photogrammetry in film-making. My brilliant cousin Ben wrote the software behind it. See this newspaper article and tv report for more.
  2. Vehicle Tech Out of Sync with Drivers’ DevicesFord Motor Co. has its own system. Apple Inc. is working with one set of automakers to design an interface that works better with its iPhone line. Some of the same car companies and others have joined the Car Connectivity Consortium, which is working with the major Android phone brands to develop a different interface. FFS. “… you are changing your phone every other year, and the top-of-mind apps are continuously changing.” That’s why Chevrolet, Mini and some other automakers are starting to offer screens that mirror apps from a smartphone.
  3. Incentives in Notice and Takedown (PDF) — findings summarised in Blocking and Removing Illegal Child Sexual Content: Analysis from a Technical and Legal Perspective: financial institutions seemed to be relatively successful at removing phishing websites while it took on average 150 times longer to remove child pornography.
  4. OpenCV for Processing (Github) — OpenCV for Processing is based on the official OpenCV Java bindings. Therefore, in addition to a suite of friendly functions for all the basics, you can also do anything that OpenCV can do. And a book from O’Reilly, and it’ll be CC-licensed. All is win. (via Greg Borenstein)

February 27 2013

Play fullscreen
Jon Penney on Internet Censorship and the Remembrance of Infowars Past
With Internet censorship on the rise around the world, organizations and researchers have developed and distributed a variety of tools to assist Internet users to both monitor and circumvent such censorship. In this talk, Jon Penney—Research Fellow at the Citizen Lab and Berkman Fellow—examines some of the international law and politics of such censorship resistance activities through three case studies involving past global communications censorship and information conflicts—telegraph cable cutting and suppression, high frequency radio jamming, and direct broadcast satellite blocking—and the world community's response to these conflicts. More on this event here: cyber.law.harvard.edu
Time: 01:08:52 More in Education
Reposted from02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa

[Webcast] Internet Censorship and the Remembrance of Infowars Past

Every Tuesday, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society hosts a public lunch gathering in our conference room in Boston. Each session involves a short presentation by a guest speaker or one of our community members, talking about a challenge that emerges from his or her current work. We are excited to partner with Global Voices to bring these presentations to a wider audience.

Title: Internet Censorship and the Remembrance of Infowars Past
Date: February 26, 12:30pm ET
Presenter: Jon Penney

With Internet censorship on the rise around the world, organizations and researchers have developed and distributed a variety of tools to assist Internet users to both monitor and circumvent such censorship. This talk will examine more closely some of the international law and politics of such censorship resistance activities through three case studies involving past global communications censorship and information conflicts— telegraph cable cutting and suppression, high frequency radio jamming, and direct broadcast satellite blocking— and the world community’s response to these conflicts. In addition to illustrating some of the legal, political, and security concerns that have animated historical instances of global communications censorship, the talk will aim to extrapolate lessons and insights for Internet censorship (and its resistance) today, such as the legality of censorship and its circumvention, the effectiveness of monitoring efforts, and the role of international institutions in disrupting (or facilitating) communications.

About Jon

Jon is a lawyer, Research Fellow at the Citizen Lab / Canada Centre for Global Security Studies, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, and a doctoral student in information communication sciences at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, where his interdisciplinary research explores regulatory chilling effects online.

In 2011, he was a Google Policy Fellow at the Citizen Lab–where he helped lead the ONI Transparency Project while contributing to projects like the Information Warfare Monitor–and, at Oxford, was Project Coordinator for the Privacy Value Networks Project, a large scale EPSRC funded research project on data privacy. A native Nova Scotian and graduate of Dalhousie University, he studied at Columbia Law School as a Fulbright Scholar and Oxford as a Mackenzie King Scholar, where he was Associate Editor of the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal. He has also worked as a federal attorney, policy advisor, and taught law at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.

His research interests include constitutional/human rights law, intellectual property, and digital media policy & culture, particularly where these areas intersect with censorship, privacy, and security.

Follow Jon on Twitter: @jon_penney

January 04 2013

Iran: Police Looks For ‘Smart Control' over Social Networking Sites

Iran's police Commander in Chief, Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam says police is looking for 'smart control' over social networking websites. He believes this 'smart control' is better than a full blocking and people may use their 'useful parts'.

Reposted byiranelection iranelection

October 24 2012

Commission's Plan for Online Gambling: Risk of Anti-Democratic Censorship, Again

Paris, 24 October 2012 – While the European Commission sets out an action plan for online gambling, La Quadrature du Net warns about the risk of Internet content censorship, and urges Member States's governments to refuse the instrumentalisation of child protection for unacceptable measures.

In the name of child protection and of the fight against money laundering and fraud, the European Commission is once again encouraging the development of online content filters:

The Commission is encouraging the development of better age-verification tools and online content filters.

As shown by numerous examples in the past, the instrumentalisation of this kind of legitimate pledge often hides the worst anti-democratic measures. Content filtering has already proven ineffective to tackle issues that the Commission says it needs to deal with: the only effective way is to remove content directly from the source, that is to say on the server where they are hosted, and to arrest individuals benefiting from these illegal contents.

Once established, censorship through filtering could easily be extended to other categories of content, for example in the interest of entertainment lobbies. International mechanisms already exist to fight money laundering, and must be used and strenghtened. Filtering of Internet content must be banned for the future, and repealed where it already exist, such as in France.

“Once again, the European Commission is trying to implement dangerous filtering measures through proposals that appear legitimate and respectable. But other measures would be much more effective and less problematic in a freedom of expression perspective. Access to the Internet is now essential to participate in public debate and for access to knowledge. Under no pretext must we allow Internet censorship to develop, or else we will profoundly undermine the most fundamental values of our democracy.” declared Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson of the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

To get more informations and discuss about it, you can go to our forum.

August 03 2012

Publishing News: Consequences and questions from the Twitter kerfuffle

Here are a few stories that caught my attention in the publishing space this week.

20-20 hindsight

On Sunday, Twitter suspended British journalist Guy Adams’ account after he tweeted NBC executive Gary Zenkel’s email address. Much kerfuffle ensued, Adams wrote a letter to Twitter, Twitter’s general counsel Alex MacGillivray apologized for the way the situation was handled, and Adams’ account was reinstated.

Reviews in the aftermath were interesting. The account suspension ultimately had the opposite of the intended effect, pointing a spotlight at Adams’ tweet and garnering it far more attention than it likely would have had otherwise. Meghan Garber at The Atlantic put together a Topsy chart of the response to Adams’ tweet, which showed the response began as pretty much nothing and then exploded upon his account suspension.

Kashmir Hill at Forbes also reviewed the situation and the surrounding drama, and concluded that the biggest loser was the complainant, NBC: “Beyond having their exec’s email spread far and wide over the Internet, it’s reflected poorly on their stance on free speech and garnered much more negative press for them than they could have imagined when they first complained.”

Mathew Ingram at GigaOm took a look at the bigger picture and identified a serious issue raised by Twitter’s actions:

“… as it expands its media ambitions and does more curation and manual filtering of the kind it has been doing for NBC, Twitter is gradually transforming itself from a distributor of real-time information into a publisher of editorial content, and that could have serious legal ramifications.”

Ingram points out that Twitter isn’t interested in being a publisher or being seen as one, but notes the company is walking a fine line: “If the company is filtering and selecting messages, however, and possibly letting certain parties know when a legally questionable one shows up, that is much more like what publishers do …” Ingram’s post is this week’s recommended read — you can find it here.

The future of publishing has a busy schedule.
Stay up to date with Tools of Change for Publishing events, publications, research and resources. Visit us at oreilly.com/toc.

The key to digital may lie in consumers, not products

Amy Chozick at the New York Times took a look this week at Laura Lang, the former chief executive of Digitas and Time Inc.’s new chief executive. Chozick’s interview with Lang and a few of her staff members offered a bit of insight into how Lang will help transform Time Inc.’s magazines for the digital era, insights that extend beyond magazine publishing.

A few key takeaways:

  • “Although her plans for Time Inc. are not yet completed, she said has homed in on the transition to mobile devices and the customizing of ads for marketers based on the vast amount of consumer data Time Inc. collects on readers. Her theory: if users’ personal information is a treasure trove for Silicon Valley businesses, it should be equally valuable to traditional media. … Marketers hoping to reach new mothers, for instance, can incorporate messaging into an issue of People magazine (and its various app and online editions) with Jessica Simpson’s baby photos or Sandra Bullock’s announcement that she has adopted a child.”
  • “Ms. Lang said the word ‘consumer’ more than 25 times in a roughly 90-minute interview.”
  • “‘We used to put magazines at the center and all the other ways consumers connect were extensions of the magazines,’ said Mr. Caine, the chief revenue officer. ‘[Lang] didn’t come in with a magazine plan; she came in with a consumer plan.’”

You can read more from Lang’s interview and about how she’s tackling the challenges at Time Inc., here.

The state of ereaders and ereading

Alan Jacobs took a look at the state of ereaders this week in a post at The Atlantic. Writing from the perspective that ereaders have been around long enough to be considered part of the “reading landscape,” Jacobs looks at ereading technology progress and lack thereof. On the progress side, he highlights backlighting and improved contrast in e-ink screens; on the improvement-needed side, he points out that screen glare continues to be an issue and typeface options are still too limited, but those are the least of the technology gaps. Jacobs argues:

“… it seems to me that the most serious deficiencies of e-readers involve readers’ interactions with books. In this respect we may be losing ground rather than gaining it. … newer versions of the Kindle software are making it harder to annotate … [and] even to highlight … for engaged, responsive reading, [ereaders] seem to be generally stagnating, or perhaps even moving backward. These are technologies that need a kick in the pants.”

O’Reilly publisher and GM Joe Wikert also recently took a look at ereader technology and areas that leave him wanting. Wikert argues that ereaders need an econtent manager that allows users to create a reading schedule, a sample content manager that reminds users they have samples waiting to be read, and the ability to connect with Instapaper accounts.

These technology gaps may be having an effect on readers’ reading habits. The Book Industry Study Group released the latest report from its ongoing Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading study, and according to the press release, the survey results show “that the percentage of e-book consumers who exclusively or mostly purchase book content in e-book format has decreased from nearly 70% in August 2011 to 60% in May 2012.” The study also found an increase in the percentage of readers (25% to 34%) who either have no preference in book format or who buy both ebook and print formats, depending on genre. You can read more about the latest study here.

Tip us off

News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.

Related:

July 27 2012

Four short links: 27 July 2012

  1. Social Media in China (Fast Company) — fascinating interview with Tricia Wang. We often don’t think we have a lot to learn from tech companies outside of the U.S., but Twitter should look to Weibo for inspiration for what can be done. It’s like a mashup of Tumblr, Zynga, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s very picture-based, whereas Twitter is still very text-based. In Weibo, the pictures are right under each post, so you don’t have to make an extra click to view them. And people are using this in subversive ways. Whether you’re using algorithms to search text or actual people–and China has the largest cyber police force in the world—it’s much easier to censor text than images. So people are very subversive in hiding messages in pictures. These pictures are sometimes very different than what people are texting, or will often say a lot more than the actual text itself. (via Tricia Wang)
  2. A Treatise on Font Rasterisation With an Emphasis on Free Software (Freddie Witherden) — far more than you ever thought you wanted to know about how fonts are rendered. (via Thomas Fuchs)
  3. Softwear Automation — robots to make clothes, something which is surprisingly rare. (via Andrew McAfee)
  4. A Guide to Analyzing Python Performance — finding speed and memory problems in your Python code. With pretty pictures! (via Ian Kallen)

July 20 2012

Four short links: 20 July 2012

  1. Intercepted DronesThe demonstration of the near-disaster, led by Professor Todd Humphreys and his team at the UTA’s Radionavigation Laboratory, points to a “gaping hole” in the US’s plan to open US airspace to thousands of drones, Fox noted: namely, drones can be turned into weapons, given the right equipment. Drones are AI for the physical world: disconnected agents, unsettling because they live in this uncanny valley of almost-independence. Military drones are doubly disconcerting. If von Clauswitz were around today, he’d say drones are the computation of politics by other means.
  2. Microsoft Censors Its Cloud Storage Service — upload porn, get your accounts (all your Microsoft accounts) frozen.
  3. Uncle Sam Wants You … to Troll (Wired) — Amanullah has a different view. You don’t necessarily need to deface the forums if you can troll them to the point where their most malign influences are neutralized.
  4. Wroblewski’s Theorem“Anything that can be connected to the Internet, will be.”

May 28 2012

Spanish artist faces prison over 'how to cook Christ' film

Javier Krahe prosecuted for 'offending religious feelings' after 1978 short film was broadcast on Spanish TV

A leading Spanish artist faces up to a year in prison after being prosecuted for "offending religious feelings" in relation to a short film he made more than 30 years ago that claimed to show "how to cook Jesus Christ".

Javier Krahe, who has been a popular and provocative figure in Spain for nearly half a century, made the film in 1978 but it was only shown on Spanish TV in 2004 as a backdrop to an interview with its creator. The little-known charge – comparable with but not identical to Britain's blasphemy law, remains part of the penal code despite never having been applied before in Spanish legal history.

Krahe's 54-second film uses the tone of a cooking programme, with chefs advised to remove Jesus' nails and separate him from his crucifix, which should be left to one side. Christ's tiny white body – a small figurine is used – is then shown being washed, lightly smothered in butter, placed on a bed of aromatic herbs in a glass tray and popped into an oven. "One gaunt Christ" is apparently enough to feed two, and when the dish is ready (after three days) it miraculously emerges from the oven without assistance.

There have been two previous failed attempts to prosecute Krahe, who is currently on bail for €192,000 (£153,000). The latest prosecution is the result of a court action by the Catholic legal association the Centro Juridico Tomas Moro.

"How do you show that someone's religious feelings have been hurt?" Krahe told El Pais newspaper, adding that he considers the prosecution to be absurd. "I'm accused of a series of things that I haven't done. I don't appear on television cooking Christ, and I haven't ever used these images [in a performance]." His supporters say freedom of speech laws should be changed to allow room for blasphemy.

Krahe is due to appear in Madrid's regional court, where statements from witnesses in the case are due to be heard on Monday.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


April 18 2012

02mydafsoup-01

[...]

Spaniens Regierung will für die Folgen ihrer harten Kürzungspolitik gewappnet sein. Wohl deshalb stellte Innenminister Jorge Fernández Díaz jüngst seine Pläne für eine Verschärfung des Strafgesetzbuches vor. Künftig sollen auch friedliche Proteste als „Anschlag auf die Staatsgewalt“ gewertet werden können.

Darauf stehen vier bis zehn Jahre Haft. Und wer im Internet zu Protestaktionen ruft, die in Sitzblockaden oder gar in gewaltsamen Auseinandersetzungen enden, muss damit rechnen, als „Mitglied einer kriminellen Organisation“ verhaftet zu werden. Darauf steht eine Mindeststrafe von zwei Jahren Haft.

Während die Opposition gegen die Pläne protestiert, erhält Fernández Díaz von der Autonomieregierung im nordostspanischen Katalonien Unterstützung. „Es geht darum, dass die Menschen mehr Angst vor dem System haben“, erklärt der dortige Innenminister Felip Puig unumwunden.

Puig war vor knapp einem Jahr in die Schlagzeilen geraten, als er Zivilpolizisten in eine Demonstration einschleusen ließ, die gewalttätige Ausschreitungen anzettelten. Diese dienten uniformierten Beamten dazu, mit Härte gegen friedliche Demonstranten vorzugehen. Videos, die dies belegten, wurden von YouTube gelöscht.

[...]

Spaniens Regierung verschärft Strafrecht: Wer Torten wirft, ist ein Terrorist | taz.de 2012-04-17
Reposted bymodac99percentmondkroetefinkreghkrekkFrauJuledocsteelkissalonecomplexArkelanfallwhereistheguruhorstiporstipaketwonkobrightbytesofiasreturn13krekkdarksideofthemoonFrauJulepowerToThePoeplesofiaszerocool911zweisatzbesencartoffleekelias

March 16 2012

Publishing News: Britannica isn't dead, it's digital

Here are the publishing stories that caught my eye this week.

Information doesn't need to weigh 129 pounds

EB.jpgThe Encyclopaedia Britannica announced its final print run this week. Looking at the description of the closing print product, it's clear that its day has passed. As the New York Times reports:

"The last print version is the 32-volume 2010 edition, which weighs 129 pounds and includes new entries on global warming and the Human Genome Project." [Emphasis added.]

Some argue that Wikipedia, with its open, free, crowdsourced content, "did in" the EB. Tim Carmody over at Wired purports that Windows, not Wikipedia, caused EB's demise:

"Britannica went bankrupt in 1996, long before Wikipedia was a crowdsourced gleam in Jimmy Wales' open-access eye. In 1990, the company had $650 million in revenue. In 1996, it was being sold off in toto for $135 million. What happened in between was Encarta."

I prefer to approach the situation from a more positive angle: A group of publishing executives sitting around a boardroom table finally had an "ah-ha!" moment and realized the path to future success was of a digital nature. With print put out to pasture, EB will focus on its online and digital offerings. As described in the Washington Post:

"Online versions of the encyclopedia now serve more than 100 million people around the world, the company said, and are available on mobile devices. The encyclopedia has become increasingly social as well, [Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. president Jorge Cauz] said, because users can send comments to editors. 'A printed encyclopedia is obsolete the minute that you print it,' Cauz said. 'Whereas our online edition is updated continuously.'"

The EB offers access to its content through a subscription model online ($69.95 annually) and through its app ($1.99 monthly). Merriam-Webster also is a subsidiary of EB — I've had my own an annual subscription to the online unabridged version of that product for a couple years now.

"But, how will EB compete with Wikipedia?" you might ask. EB president Jorge Cauz addresses this point in an interview at NPR:

"We will probably never be as large as Wikipedia because we need to concentrate on fewer topics where we can allocate scholarly knowledge. You know, we have a different assortment of contributors that really know their subject areas. We obviously put editorial processes in place so that we can actually deliver on a source of content that is factually correct and created by the experts. That, actually, is a very different value proposition than Wikipedia."

So, perhaps we shouldn't mourn the end of an era or the death of a print product, but instead celebrate a publisher that is embracing the digital age.

The future of publishing has a busy schedule.
Stay up to date with Tools of Change for Publishing events, publications, research and resources. Visit us at oreilly.com/toc.

Issues of fair use, from a U.S. federal court to Bizzaroland

Copyright was in the spotlight a few times this week. First up, a federal court in Nevada made a fair use ruling late last Friday. A post by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) summarizes:

"The judgment — part of the nuisance lawsuit avalanche started by copyright troll Righthaven — found that Democratic Underground did not infringe the copyright in a Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper article when a user of the online political forum posted a five-sentence excerpt, with a link back to the newspaper's website.

"Judge Roger Hunt's judgment confirms that an online forum is not liable for its users' posts, even if it was not protected by the safe harbors of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's notice and takedown provisions. The decision also clarifies that a common practice on the Internet — excerpting a few sentences and linking to interesting articles elsewhere — is a fair use, not an infringement of copyright."

The EFF post dives deep into the background of the case — and the copyright troll — and is well worth the read.

In other copyright news, aggregators and search engines are being called to the carpet in Germany to pay publishers for "reproducing even short snippets of articles" — the same practice the Nevada court just deemed fair use. PC World reports that proponents of the new copyright law, being written by the German ministry of justice, argue that search engines like Google make a lot of money from digital content and those revenues should be shared. Proponents also point out that such a law will "hopefully also make publishers better equipped when they need to take on sites that abuse their content, which is a problem at the moment."

Those against the law argue that publishers are shooting themselves in the foot. The PC World post reports:

"It is just a comically stupid policy, according to Joe McNamee, advocacy coordinator at European Digital Rights (EDRi). The reason publishers put their content on the Internet is so that people can access it, and punishing companies for helping people to find content is nothing short of absurd, he said via email.

"Also, if the publishers' inability to evolve in the digital environment leads to policies that allow them not to evolve, then this will ultimately be bad for them, according to McNamee."

Officials told PC World that the law could be published by April, but likely wouldn't go into effect until next year.

And in downright weird copyright news, the Belgian copyright society SABAM wants to start charging libraries fees for having volunteers read books to children. Robin Wauters at The Next Web reports:

"Twice a month, the library in Dilbeek welcomes about 10 children to introduce them to the magical world of books ... SABAM got in touch with the library to let them know that it thinks this is unacceptable, however, and that they should start coughing up cash for the audacity to read stories from copyrighted books out loud. The library rep calculates that it could cost them roughly 250 euros (which is about $328) per year to pay SABAM for the right to — again — READ BOOKS TO KIDS."

Cory Doctorow describes the situation poignantly: "The technical term for this is 'eating your seed corn' (a less technical term might be 'acting like a titanic asshole')."

PayPal comes to its senses

Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour.jpgIn a follow-up to recent PayPal news, in which PayPal attempted to establish itself as the content police, the company has decided to rescind its censorship demands. PayPal's new-new terms are described in a post at TechDirt:

"Under the new policy, only books with graphic images that fall under the US-based Miller test will be affected. Going forward, PayPal will also be taking a more targeted approach to enforcement. Instead of focusing on entire classes of fiction, it will work on a book by book basis. This specific change should allow for a better process in which the affected authors can appeal the decision to remove their works while getting the individual focus such decisions deserve."

In an email sent to authors and publishers, Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, a company directly affected by PayPal's policy changes, sums it up:

"This is a big, bold move by PayPal. It represents a watershed decision that protects the rights of writers to write, publish and distribute legal fiction. It also protects the rights of readers to purchase and enjoy all fiction in the privacy of their own imagination. It clarifies and rationalizes the role of financial services providers and pulls them out of the business of censoring legal fiction."

Got news?

Suggestions are always welcome, so feel free to send along your news scoops and ideas.

Photo (top): UBN Encyclopaedia Britannica by Ziko, on Wikimedia Commons

Photo (bottom): Da Vinci Vitruve Luc Viatour, on Wikimedia Commons

Related:


March 09 2012

Publishing News: The threat of censorship, from a non-government entity

Here are the publishing-related stories that caught my attention this week.

Censorship disguised as a business decision

Censored.pngThe PayPal-as-content-police saga continues this week. Publishers Weekly reports that PayPal is backing off Smashwords a bit: "As it stands now, PayPal has contacted Smashwords about the possibility of relaxing the enforcement and has assured the distributor that their account will not be in immediate risk of limitation pending ongoing discussions." The post outlines the background on the situation:

"The issue began February 18, when [Smashwords founder Mark] Coker received an e-mail from PayPal notifying him that Smashwords had until February 24 to correct titles with the controversial topics or else the Smashwords account would be limited. PayPal told Coker: 'Our banking partners and credit card associations have taken a very strict stance on this subject matter. Our relationships with the banking partners are absolutely critical in order to provide the online and mobile services we do to our customers. Therefore, we have to remain in compliance with their rules, which prohibit content involving rape, bestiality or incest.'"

Several anti-censorship and privacy rights organizations, including the Association of American Publishers, the Authors Guild, and the Internet Archive, have signed a letter to PayPal in support of Smashwords. The letter concludes by noting exactly how dangerous PayPal's intended actions are:

"The Internet has become an international public commons, like an enormous town square, where ideas can be freely aired, exchanged, and criticized. That will change if private companies, which are under no legal obligation to respect free speech rights, are able to use their economic clout to dictate what people should read, write, and think."

Magellan Media founder Brian O'Leary also highlighted a bit of the bigger picture:

As the tools of creation and production have become increasingly democratized, efforts to control supply have shifted to the platforms that support this more open process. After all, it's a lot easier to shut down Smashwords than it is to get its thousands of authors to stop writing.

The PW post includes comments that claim PayPal's demands are not censorship, just a business decision (... a decision that just happens to prevent people from being able to buy or read something). You didn't like SOPA? Meet the bankers.

The future of publishing has a busy schedule.
Stay up to date with Tools of Change for Publishing events, publications, research and resources. Visit us at oreilly.com/toc.

This kind of consumer demand should make you drool

Inspired by the Oatmeal cartoon detailing futile attempts at legally watching the "Game of Thrones" TV show (and several subsequent responses to it), David Sleight over at Stuntbox takes a look at the current state of piracy and makes a compelling argument to corporate America that pirate consumers are an opportunity:

"The audience is telling you, in no uncertain terms, they want your stuff. And they are telling you precisely what stuff. The people you're calling 'thieves' are telling you where you need to be. They are jumping through hoops only slightly less complicated than the ones you set out for them via official channels, displaying the sort of pent-up demand that should make you drool. This is what's commonly referred to in business circles as an opportunity."

Sleight points out that behind private, closed doors, corporate America acknowledges this but can't get seem to migrate the mindset into the boardroom. He offers several proposals to help them get a move-on. A few teasers include: "Start projects by picturing what the user wants to have in their hands and build up from that." And, "... the future is about frictionless access ..." And, "Stop thumping the table with these [bogus] stats." Sleight's piece is well worth the read.

And publishers might take a page from the TED playbook: Joshua Gans at the Harvard Business Review profiles the TED publishing platform, noting not only the openness of the TED talks themselves (the videos are freely available), but also the TED name (adhering to a few rules, anyone can hold a TEDx event). Gans concludes: "TED could have done the traditional publishing thing — put up walls and sold exclusivity. Instead, it has chosen to embrace the notion that information has the most value when it is shared widely. Perhaps traditional publishers of other forms of media should take note."

And in case you missed it, here's author Neal Gaiman on the opportunities of piracy:

What we have here is a failure to visualize

A new study from The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism shows that newspapers' digital efforts are falling short in making up for losses in print revenues and that "most newspapers continue to contract with alarming speed." Fear of rapid failure seems to be fueling the slow, steady decline. One newspaper executive told the study group, "There's no doubt we're going out of business right now." The report continues:

"The problem, he [the newspaper executive] explained, is the dilemma that faces many trying to innovate inside older industries. If you changed your company and did not succeed, that could hasten the end of the enterprise. 'There might be a 90% chance you'll accelerate the decline if you gamble and a 10% chance you might find the new model,' he said. 'No one is willing to take that chance'."

PewStudyNewsRevenues.pngThe study investigates the decline in the industry from many angles — digital advertising to mobile to cultural obstacles. The study also asked newspaper executives to look five years down the road; the results were grim and highlighted the industry's lack of vision. Response highlights include:

  • The most common scenario was that the newspaper would be printed and delivered to people's homes less frequently, perhaps as little as two to three days a week-or even just on Sunday. This has already occurred in some markets, such as Detroit.
  • One foresaw a looming era of significantly downsized newsrooms. Another suggested the papers would inevitably get "thinner and weaker."
  • One thought it would be possible for papers to "limp along," but that another recession could be catastrophic to the industry.

The study report points out what is "probably the strongest underlying finding of this study: The people who run the newspaper industry are unsure of where it is heading or what it will look like."

Got news?

Suggestions are always welcome, so feel free to send along your news scoops and ideas.

Photo (top): Vitruvian by Mr.Enjoy, on Flickr

Related:


January 28 2012

02mydafsoup-01

What Does Twitter’s Country-by-Country Takedown System Mean for Freedom of Expression?

This post was originally published on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Deeplinks blog.

Yesterday, Twitter announced in a blog post that it was launching a system that would allow the company to take down content on a country-by-country basis, as opposed to taking it down across the Twitter system. The Internet immediately exploded with allegations of censorship, conspiracy theories about Twitter’s Saudi investors and automated content filtering, and calls for a January 28 protest. One thing is clear: there is widespread confusion over Twitter's new policy and what its implications are for freedom of expression all over the world.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Twitter already takes down some tweets and has done so for years. All of the other commercial platforms that we're aware of remove content, at a minimum, in response to valid court orders. Twitter removes some tweets because they are deemed to be abuse or spam, while others are removed in compliance with court orders or DMCA notifications. Until now, when Twitter has taken down content, it has had to do so globally. So for example, if Twitter had received a court order to take down a tweet that is defamatory to Ataturk–which is illegal under Turkish law–the only way it could comply would be to take it down for everybody. Now Twitter has the capability to take down the tweet for people with IP addresses that indicate that they are in Turkey and leave it up everywhere else. Right now, we can expect Twitter to comply with court orders from countries where they have offices and employees, a list that includes the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, and soon Germany.

Twitter's increasing need to remove content comes as a byproduct of its growth into new countries, with different laws that they must follow or risk that their local employees will be arrested or held in contempt, or similar sanctions. By opening offices and moving employees into other countries, Twitter increases the risks to its commitment to freedom of expression. Like all companies (and all people) Twitter is bound by the laws of the countries in which it operates, which results both in more laws to comply with and also laws that inevitably contradict one another. Twitter could have reduced its need to be the instrument of government censorship by keeping its assets and personnel within the borders of the United States, where legal protections exist like CDA 230 and the DMCA safe harbors (which do require takedowns but also give a path, albeit a lousy one, for republication).

Twitter is trying to mitigate these problems by only taking down access to content for people coming from IP addresses the country seeking to censor that content. That's good. For now, the overall effect is less censorship rather than more censorship, since they used to take things down for all users. But people have voiced concerns that “if you build it, they will come,”–if you build a tool for state-by-state censorship, states will start to use it. We should remain vigilant against this outcome.

In the meantime, Twitter is taking two additional steps to ensure that users know that the censorship has happened. First, they are giving users notice when they seek that content. Second, they are sending the notices they receive to the Chilling Effects Project, which publishes the orders, creating an archive. Note: EFF is one of the partners in the Chilling Effects project. So far, of very big websites only Google and Wikipedia are this transparent about what they take down or block and why. When Facebook takes down a post, there is no public accountability at all. Through Chilling Effects, users can track exactly what kinds of content Twitter is being asked to censor or take down and how that happened.

So what should Twitter users do? Keep Twitter honest. First, pay attention to the notices that Twitter sends and to the archive being created on Chilling Effects. If Twitter starts honoring court orders from India to take down tweets that are offensive to the Hindu gods, or tweets that criticize the king in Thailand, we want to know immediately. Furthermore, transparency projects such as Chilling Effects allow activists to track censorship all over the world, which is the first step to putting pressure on countries to stand up for freedom of expression and put a stop to government censorship.

What else? Circumvent censorship. Twitter has not yet blocked a tweet using this new system, but when it does, that tweet will not simply disappear—there will be a message informing you that content has been blocked due to your geographical location. Fortunately, your geographical location is easy to change on the Internet. You can use a proxy or a Tor exit node located in another country. Read Write Web also suggests that you can circumvent per-country censorship by simply changing the country listed in your profile.

January 18 2012