It has been reported in several places, including the EFF, that Youtube is using its Content ID filtering system to take down the very popular parodies using footage from Downfall, the 2004 movie about Hitler’s last days. This is bad news for everybody with a sense of humor and especially everybody who thinks a parody should at least get a chance at being judged on its fair use merits. Youtube;s policy is apparently pretty automatic; someone who claims to own the rights to footage complains and an software tracker locates and takes down the material. Here is an excerpt from the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s response:
If copyright owners want to block remix creativity, they should have to use a formal DMCA takedown notice (and be subject to legal punishment if they fail to consider fair use), rather than a coarse automated blocking tool. That is one reason we called on YouTube to fix the Content ID system so that it will not automatically remove videos unless there is a match between the video and audio tracks of a submitted fingerprint and nearly the entirety (e.g, 90% or more) of the challenged content is comprised of a single copyrighted work. That was over two years ago, and YouTube told us then that they were working on improving the tool. If YouTube is serious about protecting its users, it is long past time for YouTube to do that work.
ᔥElectronic Frontier Foundation
The European Copyright Society has issued an opinion on an important case currently before the European Court of Justice. The Svensson case involves a Swedish Journalist whose article was published by a Swedish paper in both print and digital format. The article was subsequently linked to by a subscription service and Svensson is suing that service, claiming that the link constitutes a communication to the public and therefore violates his copyright. The European Copyright Society, a group of scholars founded in January of 2012 January 2012 with the aim of creating an independent platform for “critical and independent scholarly thinking on European Copyright Law”, has issued its opinion that links are most emphatically not violations of copyright. Their opinion reads in part:
The importance of this particular reference should be evident to the Court. Although hyperlinking takes many forms and has multiple functions, there can be no doubt that it is the single most important feature that differentiates the Internet from other forms of cultural production and dissemination. Hyperlinking is intimately bound to the conception of the Internet as a network, and hyperlinks constitute paths leading users from one location to another. […] The legal regulation of hyperlinking thus carries with it enormous capacity to interfere with the operation of the Internet, and therefore with access to information, freedom of expression, freedom to conduct business, as well – of course – with business ventures that depend on these types of linkages.
Read the story here.
The Telegraph reports on an ongoing war between Google and British creative industries over copyright. One side claims their business is being severely damaged, the other claims publishers of all kinds must adapt to a new reality. Read the story here.
In a recent Truthdig article Chris Hedges give a good description of debt peonage in the United States today. We tend to think of workers being controlled through debt as a something one sees on South American latifundios or company store dominated mining towns whereas it is actually a part of daily life for working Americans.
The former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, testifying before Congress, was quite open about the role of debt peonage in keeping workers passive. Greenspan pointed out that since 1980 labor productivity has increased by about 83 percent. Yet real wages have stagnated. Greenspan said this was because workers were too burdened with mortgage debts, college loans, auto payments and credit-card debt to risk losing a job. Household debt in the United States is around $13 trillion. This is only $2 trillion less than the country’s total yearly economic output. Greenspan was right. Miss a payment on your credit card and your interest rates jumps to 30 percent. Fail to pay your mortgage and you lose your home. Miss your health insurance payments, which have been spiraling upwards, and if you are seriously ill you go into bankruptcy, as 1 million Americans who get sick do every year. Trash your credit rating and your fragile financial edifice, built on managing debt, collapses. Since most Americans feel, on some level, as Hudson points out, that they are a step or two away from being homeless, they are deeply averse to challenging corporate power. It is not worth the risk. And the corporate state knows it. Absolute power, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote, depends on fear and passivity.
The only way to break this fear and passivity is to organize workers to break the cycle of mounting debt. And the first step to achieving independence from debt—the primary form of political control by the corporate state—is to raise the minimum wage. There are other solutions—forgiving mortgage and student debt, instituting universal health care, establishing a nationwide jobs program to rebuild the country’s Third World infrastructure, and green energy—but none of this will happen until we are able to mount a sustained mass movement that discredits the corporate state. This mass movement will arise, as Nader says, when we mobilize around the minimum wage.
To read the entire article, go here.
Last week a British judge ruled that in writing the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) in 2000, permitting undercover police to form “personal or other” relationships, Parliament that they must have had “ the most famous fictional example of a member of the intelligence services”, James Bond, in mind.
Ah, to be a bobby, legally authorized to threaten to strangle women with their own bikini tops.
The Guardian reports that BP CEO Bob Dudley has denounced claims that we are approaching a time of of declining oil resources as ‘groundless’. BP is not denying that we are using up the supply of ‘traditional’ oil in the ground but they are asserting that it will be more than replaced by shale oil, tar sands, and bio-fuels. In fact, they are predicting that oil production will increase and, as a result, carbon dioxide emissions will rise by more than a quarter by 2030.
Anyone paying the least attention to the climate change crisis will realize that what BP is touting as a triumph is, in fact, a disaster. Our politicians can barely bring themselves to do something when faced by possibility of the US going into default. How can we expect them to act on climate change when faced with the seductive prospect of continued cheap oil?
Jaun Cole posted this graph on Informed Comment. Clearly the danger to Americans from our gun culture is far greater than the danger from terrorism. Yet politicians are giving anti terrorism measures a blank check while right wingers are threatening to impeach Obama for the small measures he’s proposed to limit access to guns. This is a portrait of madness.
We all saw the story a few days ago: a jihadist Islamic cleric had issued a fatwa commanding gang rape in Syria as a comfort to faithful warriors. Apparently the lads weren’t getting any and the buildup of backpressure was impeding their efficiency at killing infidels.
The problem was that the story was bullshit. Alternet, to its credit, has now issued a correction and an apology. It is shocking how easily this story spread. According to Alternet, by the evening of January 2, the day the story was first posted, a Google search brought up three pages of links to articles on the subject.
How much checking was done by news outlets? If someone had posted about a similar declaration by the Pope would it have spread in a similar way or been dismissed outright as bigoted garbage?
I am no fan of Islam – or the Pope, if it comes to that – but we have to look at the motivations behind the vilification of the (chronologically) third great Abrahamic religion.
Yesterday the Senate rejected all three attempts to put SOME privacy protection and oversight into the FISA reauthoriziation. FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act grants the government wide powers to monitor communications of foreign agents and terrorists, but since intelligence agencies are not required to provide even rough estimates of how many people inside the US they are monitoring, the suspicious among us suspect that the term “terrorist” is being used in the charmingly broad sense the government uses.
↬Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing
Adam Serwer (@AdamSerwer) of Mother Jones posted an enlightening article on a new Defense bill that fosters discriminatory chaos under the guise of tolerance. The bill requires the military to tolerate soldiers’ beliefs. Sounds nice. However, since the language in question was introduced by Todd ‘legitimate rape’ Akin, it is probably a good idea to look a bit deeper.
The bill in fact tolerates intolerance.
Under the new proposal, critics say, a military doctor could refuse to perform a cancer screening for a female service member who had premarital sex. Troops who believe homosexuality is morally wrong could refuse to serve with gays or lesbians. Although the bill states service members can still be disciplined for “conduct” that negatively impacts “good order and discipline,” it also states their beliefs must be accommodated, potentially setting up a legal conflict over what the military’s obligations are. Is someone who refuses to share living facilities with a gay colleague engaging in conduct that can be punished, or expressing a religious belief that must be “accommodated?” It’s unclear.