In a setback for educators and orchestras, the Supreme Court this morning ruled that Congress can place works under #copyright that were once free for everyone to use.
Google has published new numbers that show how governments around the world are asking to remove more content from services like YouTube than ever before.
Google(s goog) has published its latest Transparency Report and the results are not encouraging for free speech advocates: governments around the world are asking it to remove more content than ever before.
In the second half of 2012, the number of government requests to remove content from services like YouTube and Blogger increased from 1,811 to 2,285, and the number of items targeted for censorship increased from 18,070 to 24,179. As this screenshot shows, government requests have been rising steadily for years:
Many of these requests appear to have come from politicians who invoke defamation laws to remove content that was damaging or embarrassing. In a section of the report that breaks down requests by country, Google notes it received a request to remove a YouTube video that allegedly showed the President of Argentina “in a compromising position.” (Google did not comply with the request but did impose age restrictions…
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The Draft Press Standards (Scotland) Bill will no doubt be analysed and criticized for its call for the creation of a regulatory body to oversee the press in Scotland. I want to focus on a particular definition in this draft that is particularly troubling to anyone who cherishes the freedom of expression and values the use of social media for news retrieval and expression of opinion. Just for the record, I can’t find regulating social media in the Terms of Reference.
The effects could be disastrous for freedom of expression in Scotland. This draft bill goes right to the heart of social media and individual users publishing “micro-blogs” and “tweets”.
First some context from the briefing note –Defining “the press” in the age of social media.
“Of relevance to the Irish, Labour party and Hacked Off models are that some of the online press is clearly linked to print equivalent publications. The DCMS proposals however state that it is irrelevant if websites containing news-related material are or are not related to a newspaper or magazine.”
To be clear, this uses my quote from submissions written alongside Aamer Anwar highlighting to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee in its examination of the role of social media in criminal trials that balance might not be achievable because of the nature of underlying technology regardless of the most impartial journalist’s intentions.
“a Journalist who in [is] in good faith tweeting both sides of a trial in a fair and impartial manner might have one tweet [retweeted] hundreds of times, but a tweet describing the cross examination might never get seen by anyone remotely interested in the case. In this manner, the technology is not meant to be fair and impartial, even though the journalist may be.”
This was on a specific point of using cameras and social media during live criminal trials. This quote is taken completely out of context and missed the point about protecting witnesses for retribution for testifying against a particularly menacing crime boss, accused rapist, or violent spouse. The entire submission was relating to criminal trials!
To prove my point, I refer you to a little experiment I did this week. I tweeted the following story and picture. It has been Rt’ed nearly 2000 times and favourited 560. The problem is it is completely false. The whole scene was fabricated and I knew it when I posted it.
Here is the problem that this highlights:
Lets say I am what the McLeveson group labels social media users/bloggers as “relevant publishers”.
Clause 8 (1) (b):
(1) In this Act, “relevant publisher” means a person (other than a broadcaster) who
publishes in Scotland—
(a) a newspaper, magazine or periodical containing news-related material, or
(b) by electronic means (including a website), news-related material (whether or not related to a newspaper, magazine or periodical)
If blogs and tweets are regulated does that mean anyone referred to on a blog or tweet is a ‘person in the news’? I reject this purely on common decency and public policy grounds. How is it at all possible or acceptable to subject a blogger or tweeter to a regulator which has the power to impose a financial sanction based on ‘turnover’ (from Leveson recommendation 19) as a backstop following non-compliance with some other instruction? For example, an apology?
Furthermore, how does one identify a blogger’s ‘turnover’? Is the private blogger to be scrutinized for his personal income to determine his ability to pay a fine? This is completely incompatible even with Leveson’s proposals. It appears the McCluskey Group forgot the whole “necessary in a democratic society” and “proportionality” tests that must be satisfied before any restriction on freedom of expression to be ECHR compliant.
Finally – talk about drafting the turning to Clause 8 (2) (c):
“news-related material” means—
(a) news or information about current affairs,
(b) comment about matters relating to the news or current affairs,
(c) gossip about celebrities, other public figures or other persons in the news
What are the definitions of ‘celebrity’, ‘public figure’ and ‘person in the news’? Tom Hanks is a celebrity. But so is Alex Salmond. Are Gerry and Kate McCann? The effects of this are very problematic.
If blogs and tweets are regulated does that mean anyone referred to on a blog or tweet is a ‘person in the news’?
Lastly, there is already some disagreement about the effect of Clause 1(4). It seems to restrict challenges of the Scottish Ministers to judicial review. Currently as the law stands, the press (or anyone else affected) can challenge the validity of any act by (a) Scottish Minister(s) on the basis that it is incompatible with ECHR under s57(2) of the Scotland Act. Clause 1 would seem to me to run in parallel with, rather than add anything to, s57(2).
Finally, there’s Clause 7 which calls for Scottish Ministers to appoint members to the role of Recognition Commissioner/Regulatory Body. Of course, this would never lead to cronyism, could it?
The great irony here is that I am writing a blog criticizing a draft bill that is effectively criticizing the Draft Press Standards (Scotland) Bill and if passed; therefore, would be subject to regulation. What is I saw a celebrity out on the town being naughty and tweeted a picture of the act? Am I subject to the regulation? Looks like it. My ‘turnover’ is zero. I am a PhD student. How would I defend myself? No doubt Mr Hanks is a celebrity, but he appears to be in a pub minding his own business and I just published a picture of him acting the fool with a fellow patron. Does that I have violated his privacy? What about the non-celebrity? Possibly. Why should I or anyone else be subject to the regulator’s whims here?
Want a batch of fresh E.coli? There’s a printer for that. #3DPrinting A group of bio-hackers has built an affordable 3-D printer that can churn out sheets of bacteria to order. But that’ s just the beginning of a quest to print a leaf.
We know that 3-D printers can spit out products from jewelry to digital devices. Then we started hearing about technology that could print out human organs. The concept is proven but the technology remains too expensive for most mortals. Now, a group of hackers at Biocurious has built a device that can print out cells. Its cost? About $150, according to this MIT Review report.
That means you too, if you so desire, can churn out a sheet of E.coli bacteria using a machine built of some custom-built parts and recycled inkjet cartridges and CD-drive components. And, before you panic, remember only a few strains of E.coli are harmful.
The initial model works just in two dimensions, printing out sheets of fluorescent E. coli cells that read “I heart BioCurious.” But, according to the story, project organizer Patrik D’haeseleer’s longer-term plan is:
“… to print plant cells and build…
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