Archive for the ‘EU’ Category

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Rocket League Collector's Edition The Dutch Gaming Authority (kansspelautoriteit) has ruled on the matter of loot boxes i computer games and has determined that out of ten popular games with loot boxes the commission investigated, four don’t comply with the country’s Better Gaming Act.According to the Dutch Gaming Authority, the four games in violation of the Better Gaming Act because they feature elements in them that can also be found in the gambling world. Because loot box items could be traded for euro at fluctuating prices, these items have economic value. And since players can earn money for rare items, the games violate the rules of chance.

Of the remaining six games the Dutch Gaming Authority investigated, they found that the loot boxes contained items that could not be traded. Thus they are in compliance with the Better Gaming Act. However, the group still criticized how loot boxes were implemented as slot machines or roulettes.

Companies that do not comply with the Better Gaming Act can be fined or even prohibited from being sold in the Netherlands.

The games will only be officially identified if they don’t take the required remedial action. However it has been reported that likely games requiring cuts are Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), Dota 2 , and Rocket League which include items that can be traded through third-party services

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Image: Facepalm , Brandon Grasley, CC-BYThe 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.

Under the new rules, anyone who allows the public to post material will have to maintain vast databases of copyrighted works claimed by rightsholders , and any public communications that matches anything in these databases has to be blocked. These databases have been tried on much more modest scales — Youtube’s Content ID is a prominent example — and they’re a mess. Because rightsholders are free to upload anything and claim ownership of it, Content ID is a font of garbagey, sloppy, fraudulent copyright abuse: five different companies claim to own the rights to white noise ; Samsung claims to own any drawing of its phones ; Nintendo claims it owns gamers’ animated mashups ; Sony claims it owns stock footage it stole from a filmmaker whose work it had censored; the biggest music companies in the world all claim to own the rights to “Silent Night” , a rogues’ gallery of sleazy copyfraudsters claim to own NASA’s spacecraft landing footage — all in all, these systems benefit the large and the unethical at the cost of small and nimble.

That’s just for starters.

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 licenses.

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.

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governmet germany logoA German law requiring social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to remove reported hate speech without enough time to consider the merits of the report is set to be revised following criticism that too much online content is being blocked.The law, called NetzDG for short, is an international test case and how it plays out is being closely watched by other countries considering similar measures.

German politicians forming a new government told Reuters they want to add an amendment to help web users get incorrectly deleted material restored online.

The lawmakers are also pushing for social media firms to set up an independent body to review and respond to reports of offensive content from the public, rather than leaving to the social media companies who by definition care more about profits than supporting free speech.

Such a system, similar to how video games are policed in Germany, could allow a more considered approach to complex decisions about whether to block content, legal experts say.

Facebook, which says it has 1,200 people in Germany working on reviewing posts out of 14,000 globally responsible for moderating content and account security, said it was not pursuing a strategy to delete more than necessary. Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president for EMEA public policy said:

People think deleting illegal content is easy but it’s not. Facebook reviews every NetzDG report carefully and with legal expertise, where appropriate. When our legal experts advise us, we follow their assessment so we can meet our obligations under the law.

Johannes Ferchner, spokesman on justice and consumer protection for the Social Democrats and one of the architects of the law said:

We will add a provision so that users have a legal possibility to have unjustly deleted content restored.

Thomas Jarzombek, a Christian Democrat who helped refine the law, said the separate body to review complaints should be established, adding that social media companies were deleting too much online content. NetzDG already allows for such a self-regulatory body, but companies have chosen to go their own way instead. According to the coalition agreement, both parties want to develop the law to encourage the establishment of such a body.

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Poster 120 Battements Par Minute 2017 Robin Campillo 120 Beats Per Minute (120 battements par minute) is a 2017 France drama by Robin Campillo.
Starring Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois and Adèle Haenel. IMDb

Early 1990s. With AIDS having already claimed countless lives for nearly ten years, Act up-Paris activists multiply actions to fight general indifference. Nathan, a newcomer to the group, has his world shaken up by Sean, a radical militant, who throws his last bits of strength into the struggle.

Soldiers: A Story from Ferentari (Soldatii. Poveste din Ferentari) is a 2017 Romania / Serbia / Belgium drama by Ivana Mladenovic.
Starring Dan Bursuc, Sorin Cocis and Cezar Grumazescu. IMDb

Adi, a shy and introverted anthropologist, who got recently dumped by his girlfriend, moves to Ferentari, the poorest and most notorious neighborhood of Bucharest. He wants to write a study on manele music, the ‘pop music’ of the Roma community. Adi meets Alberto, a Roma ex-convict and a bear of a man, who promises Adi to help him. Soon enough, the unlikely pair begins a playful romance in which Adi feeds Alberto with improbable plans of escaping poverty, while Alberto feeds Adi with phrases of love.

Poster Soldatii Poveste Din Ferentari 2017 Ivana Mladenovic Religious protesters in Romania have disrupted the screenings of two movies featuring gay themes, saying they violate traditional values.

In response, a new screening of the Cannes award-winning movie 120 Beats Per Minute is going to be held Tuesday in Bucharest.

The dispute illustrates Romania’s divided views about homosexuality, which remains a difficult topic in a state where more than 85% of its people belong to Christian Orthodox churches. Homosexuality was only decriminalized when Romania prepared to join the EU in 2002.

Protesters calling themselves Christian Orthodox burst into a movie theatre on Feb. 4 during a screening of 120 Beats Per Minute. Protesters objected to the film being shown at the Romanian Peasant Museum because the Romanian peasant is a Christian Orthodox. They sang the national anthem and religious songs while others held religious icons and banners saying: Romania isn’t Sodom and Hey Soros, leave them kids alone , referring to Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros.

Days later, protesters disrupted another movie featuring a relationship with a Romanian man and an ex-convict from the nation’s Roma, or Gypsy, minority titled Soldiers: A Story from Ferentari. Protesters played Gypsy rock music to drown out the movie. Police were called in to break up the protest.

Filmmaker Cristian Mungiu, the distributor of 120 Beats Per Minute in Romania, has urged the culture minister and Bucharest mayor to publicly support the movie but so far they have remained silent. It will be re-screened Tuesday at the same museum.

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niamh smythIrish book censors have not banned a single magazine and have blocked just one book in the last ten years. Now a member of the Irish Parliament has called for the Censorship of Publications Board to be shut down.

Fianna Fail Arts and Culture Spokesperson Niamh Smyth said: This is one quango that should be whacked. She was referring to a political campaign slogan whack a quango, to shut down quangos. Smyth added:

The ongoing existence of a Censorship Board that doesn’t censor anything is bringing the concept of censorship into disrepute at a time where we need it more than ever.

The only time the board has been heard of in ten years was the ludicrous submission of Alan Shatter’s novel Laura over something to do with abortion.

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Poland flagLast week, Polish lawmakers granted initial approval to a law that aims to make it illegal to suggest that Poland bore any responsibility for atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.Under the new legislation, individuals could face fines and up to three years in jail for using phrases like Polish death camps (rather than Nazi death camps).

The so-called death camp bill was passed overwhelmingly by Poland’s lower legislature.

News of the lower legislature’s vote has provoked an international outcry. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet that they will under no circumstances accept any attempt to rewrite history, alluding to the fact that although Poland was occupied by the Nazis, Poles were caught up in the day to day running of the camps. The Smithsonian Museum explained:

During World War II, the Poles suffered a brutal occupation at the hands of the Nazis, who saw the Poles as racially inferior. At least 2.5 million non-Jewish civilians and soldiers died before the war’s end, according to the United States Holocaust Museum. However, the Nazis also drew upon some Polish agencies, such as Polish police forces and railroad personnel, in the guarding of ghettos and the deportation of Jews to the killing centers. Individual Poles often helped in the identification, denunciation, and hunting down of Jews in hiding, often profiting from the associated blackmail, and actively participated in the plunder of Jewish property.

Poland has long resisted acknowledging its complicity in the Holocaust. Polish lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to pass the controversial bill back in 2013, after then-President Barack Obama referred to Polish death camps during a speech honoring Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski.

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stop censorship machinesIn a new campaign video, several Members of the European Parliament warn that the EU’s proposed mandatory upload filters pose a threat to freedom of speech. The new filters would function as censorship machines which are “completely disproportionate,” they say. The MEPs encourage the public to speak up, while they still can.

Through a series of new proposals, the European Commission is working hard to modernize EU copyright law. Among other things, it will require online services to do more to fight piracy.

These proposals have not been without controversy. Article 13 of the proposed Copyright Directive, for example, has been widely criticized as it would require online services to monitor and filter uploaded content.

This means that online services, which deal with large volumes of user-uploaded content, must use fingerprinting or other detection mechanisms — similar to YouTube’s Content-ID system — to block copyright infringing files.

The Commission believes that more stringent control is needed to support copyright holders. However, many legal scholars , digital activists , and members of the public worry that they will violate the rights of regular Internet users.

In the European Parliament, there is fierce opposition as well. Today, six Members of Parliament (MEPs) from across the political spectrum released a new campaign video warning their fellow colleagues and the public at large.

The MEPs warn that such upload filters would act as censorship machines, something they’ve made clear to the Council’s working group on intellectual property, where the controversial proposal was discussed today.

Imagine if every time you opened your mouth, computers controlled by big companies would check what you were about to say, and have the power to prevent you from saying it, Greens/EFA MEP Julia Reda says.

A new legal proposal would make this a reality when it comes to expressing yourself online: Every clip and every photo would have to be pre-screened by some automated ‘robocop’ before it could be uploaded and seen online, ALDE MEP Marietje Schaake adds.

Stop censorship machines!

Schaake notes that she has dealt with the consequences of upload filters herself. When she uploaded a recording of a political speech to YouTube, the site took it down without explanation. Until this day, the MEP still doesn’t know on what grounds it was removed.

These broad upload filters are completely disproportionate and a danger for freedom of speech, the MEPs warn. The automated systems make mistakes and can’t properly detect whether something’s fair use, for example.

Another problem is that the measures will be relatively costly for smaller companies ,which puts them at a competitive disadvantage. “Only the biggest platforms can afford them — European competitors and small businesses will struggle,” ECR MEP Dan Dalton says.

The plans can still be stopped, the MEPs say. They are currently scheduled for a vote in the Legal Affairs Committee at the end of March, and the video encourages members of the public to raise their voices.

Speak out …while you can still do so unfiltered! S&D MEP Catherine Stihler says.