EU copyright reforms pit creative industry against internet activists, consumers

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe’s creative industries are urging EU lawmakers to back a proposed overhaul of the bloc’s copyright rules, putting them at odds with internet activists who oppose a requirement to install filters to block copyright material.

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People protest against the planned EU copyright reform in Berlin, Germany March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The European Commission wants to reform copyright rules to protect Europe’s cultural heritage and ensure fair compensation to publishers, broadcasters and artistes. The European Parliament is due to vote on the Commission’s proposal on Tuesday.

More than a thousand artists have signed an online petition calling on EU lawmakers to endorse the overhaul while others have ran op-eds in newspapers in support of the changes, lobbying group Impala said in a statement.

Artists in favour of the proposed changes include film producers Pedro Almodovar and Michel Hazanavicius, Benny Andersson from Abba and author Ali Smith, as well as independent music labels.

A vote in favour by the European Parliament would pave the way for the reforms to become law.

Google, internet activists and European technology start-ups, however, oppose the overhaul and were joined on Monday by consumer lobbying body BEUC.

A requirement for Google’s YouTube, Facebook’s Instagram and other sharing platforms to install filters to catch copyright violations known as Article 13, but now renumbered to Article 17, has triggered protests, with an online petition www.savetheinternet.info garnering more than 5 million signatures so far.

Google senior vice-president for global affairs Kent Walker has said the article could prompt online platforms to over-block content to limit legal risks.

Critics also say filters are costly and could lead to erroneous blocking.

Publishers, artistes and actors had also originally been vocal critics of the Commission’s proposal to rewrite the copyright rules but reversed their position after successfully lobbying for Google to pay them for using their work online.

BEUC said it opposed the copyright reforms, arguing that consumers may not be able to share pictures and holiday videos with background music if automated filtering becomes the norm.

“This is not the modernised copyright law that creators and consumers need, but rather another attempt to protect an industry that has consistently resisted to deal with the impact of technological change on their business model,” BEUC’s Director General Monique Goyens said in a statement.

The European Parliament’s approval is the final step in a process which the European Commission kicked off two years ago.

[“source=reuters”]

Bruised but not broken: Bail for Delhi professor GN Saibaba is a boost for all rights activists

Justice Jagdish Singh Kehar threw Shylock at the lawyer representing the State of Maharashtra on Monday as he tried to convince the Supreme Court against granting bail to wheelchair-bound Delhi University professor Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba. The academic had been arrested in May 2014 under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act after the Gadchiroli police claimed that he had links with Maoists and was “likely to indulge himself in the anti-national activities”. But the bench was sceptical. “Do you want to extract a pound of flesh?” the judge asked.

The bench held the counsel’s submission to be “extremely unfair”. Keeping in mind the medical condition of Saibaba, who now suffers from 90% disability after being struck with polio as a child, and the fact that all material witnesses in the trial had been examined, the government ought not to have even opposed the bail, the bench said.

As news about Saibaba’s bail trickled out, among the first to celebrate on Facebook was Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid, who had himself been arrested on sedition charges on February 23 after allegedly anti-national slogans were chanted at an event on campus about Kashmiri autonomy that he had helped organise. Khalid’s jubilation wasn’t surprising. After all, his 12-year-old sister, Sarah Fatima, in a short speech on March 18 when her brother and his co-accused Anirban Bhattacharya were released on bail, had expressed the hope before hundreds of students that Saibaba – an inspirational figure for many progressives – would come out of prison soon.

Saibaba’s long record as a fighter on various rights issues makes him a person to be watched from both sides of today’s polarised ideological and political battle lines. The administration has already made it clear that they expect him to participate in more “anti-national” activities. Human rights activists, however, will count his departure from Nagpur Central Jail as an important addition to the struggles in universities across the country and in the forests of the mineral-rich belt of Central and Eastern India.

Precarious condition

Saibaba is today a frail man in precarious health. His long incarceration in the confines of the high-security Anda barrack of the Nagpur prison has taken a considerable toll. This makes many worry whether he will be able to do as much as he has done before. I have no doubts on that score.

I had the opportunity to meet Saibaba during his six-month period of interim bail from June to December 2015. The Saibaba I met then was a pale shadow of the person I had met in April 2014, just before his arrest. Fourteen months of harsh prison life and denial of basic medical care had forced him to seek intensive treatment at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in Delhi. This was where I met him. He was in continuous pain. But just a few minutes into our interaction it became clear to me that Saibaba was nowhere near giving up.

He was then out on an interim bail for medical treatment. It was given first for three months and then extended for another three months. I told him that, considering his health, his interim bail would definitely be made permanent. He refused to comfort himself with such expectations. So when on December 23, 2015, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court unexpectedly ordered Saibaba to go back to jail within 48 hours, he was well prepared. He did not want any frantic appeals before Supreme Court vacation benches. He opted for the dignified path of returning to jail while applying for bail in the normal course. This meant an uncertain length of time again in the Anda barrack. He has been granted bail after three and half months but he had mentally prepared himself for more.

During the hearings on bail before the Supreme Court, the bench had offered Saibaba the option of taking an exemption from appearing physically at each hearing, which could have saved him the excruciating pain of the 340 km journey to and fro in a police vehicle for each court session. Saibaba, however, would have none of it. His trial lawyer, SP Gadling said that he insisted on being present on every court date. The trial was his fight and he was not one to run away from it.

As soon as Saibaba reaches home in Delhi, he will most likely have another stint in hospital to continue his treatment, which had been cruelly cut short by his December return to jail. But I do not expect that even hospital will stop him from entering the fray of the many issues demanding to be addressed.

Bastar crisis

One crucial issue is the crushing of democratic space in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district. It is widely believed that Saibaba was targeted and implicated on the farcical charges of the present case because of his extensive campaigning against the Salwa Judum militia and the human rights violations that accompanied the Operation Green Hunt operation against Maoists that was launched under the previous United Progressive Alliance government.

The last few months since October 2015 have had reports of a sharp rise in human rights violations by security forces against Bastar tribals. Journalists have reported about gang rapes and sexual assaults, fake encounters, false and forced surrenders. New vigilante groups with state backing have been launched, which have been in the forefront of evicting journalists and lawyers who have been providing much needed legal aid. Journalists who have insisted on doing their job of reporting have been even put in jail.

All this requires determined campaigns to call for the truth about these blatant rights violations. Saibaba, even a Saibaba who is physically much weaker, can be expected to be a strong voice in such campaigns. He has done it before and he can be expected to do it again. His will be a voice that will deepen and further embolden the cry for azadi. This will have its consequences – more attention from the state, more hardship, more pain. But Saibaba has never backed off from the good fight.

[“source-Scroll”]

Activists Urge Airbnb to Remove Israeli Settlement Properties

Activists Urge Airbnb to Remove Israeli Settlement Properties

An international coalition of NGOs called Thursday on Airbnb to remove rental properties in Jewish settlements in the West Bank from its website.

A demonstration was held in Paris, and others were planned at Airbnb’s offices in London, and in the US cities of San Francisco and Portland.

In the French capital, a small group of activists from the French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP) and the BDS France campaign delivered a petition of 140,000 signatures, largely from Britain, France and the United States.

“These are the signatures of 140,000 people who are asking Airbnb to stop making profit from the expropriation of the Palestinian people,” said Imen Habib of BDS France, which calls for economic pressure to be applied on Israel.

“Today is part of an international campaign which will continue until we succeed in getting these rental properties withdrawn,” she added.

(Also see:  Why It Matters if Airbnb Paid Beyonce for That Facebook Plug)

She said Airbnb had told the activists that its role was limited to managing transactions between users and property owners and that it was up to clients to choose where they stayed.

“But Airbnb is responsible for its site, so it’s up to the company to stop advertising these properties for rent,” Habib said.

Other groups taking part in the demonstrations are Jewish Voice for Peace and SumOfUs.

In January Palestinian officials pledged to take action against Airbnb over rooms for rent in settlements in the occupied West Bank being listed on the website as located within Israel.

At the time US-based Airbnb declined an interview, providing only a short statement. “We follow laws and regulations on where we can do business and investigate concerns raised about specific listings,” it said.

Much of the international community, including the US and the EU, opposes all Israeli settlements built in the occupied Palestinian territory and considers them among the largest obstacles to peace.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Tags: Airbnb, Apps, Internet
[“source-Gadgets”]

Activists Urge Airbnb to Remove Israeli Settlement Properties

Activists Urge Airbnb to Remove Israeli Settlement Properties

An international coalition of NGOs called Thursday on Airbnb to remove rental properties in Jewish settlements in the West Bank from its website.

A demonstration was held in Paris, and others were planned at Airbnb’s offices in London, and in the US cities of San Francisco and Portland.

In the French capital, a small group of activists from the French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP) and the BDS France campaign delivered a petition of 140,000 signatures, largely from Britain, France and the United States.

“These are the signatures of 140,000 people who are asking Airbnb to stop making profit from the expropriation of the Palestinian people,” said Imen Habib of BDS France, which calls for economic pressure to be applied on Israel.

“Today is part of an international campaign which will continue until we succeed in getting these rental properties withdrawn,” she added.

(Also see:  Why It Matters if Airbnb Paid Beyonce for That Facebook Plug)

She said Airbnb had told the activists that its role was limited to managing transactions between users and property owners and that it was up to clients to choose where they stayed.

“But Airbnb is responsible for its site, so it’s up to the company to stop advertising these properties for rent,” Habib said.

Other groups taking part in the demonstrations are Jewish Voice for Peace and SumOfUs.

In January Palestinian officials pledged to take action against Airbnb over rooms for rent in settlements in the occupied West Bank being listed on the website as located within Israel.

At the time US-based Airbnb declined an interview, providing only a short statement. “We follow laws and regulations on where we can do business and investigate concerns raised about specific listings,” it said.

Much of the international community, including the US and the EU, opposes all Israeli settlements built in the occupied Palestinian territory and considers them among the largest obstacles to peace.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

[“source-Gadgets”]