Japanese manga comics depicting children in sexual poses are not child pornography, Sweden's Supreme Court has ruled, overturning a high-profile conviction of a Swedish translator.
In a ruling issued on Friday, the court acquitted Simon Lundstrom,
who had been found guilty of child pornography crimes by two lower courts before appealing his case to Sweden's highest court.
According to the Supreme Court's ruling, the drawings are pornographic and they do portray children. However, because
the cartoons represent imaginary figures there is no way they could be mistaken for real children.
The criminalization of possession of the drawings would otherwise exceed what is necessary with regard to the purpose which has led to the
restriction on freedom of expression and freedom of information, the court said in a statement.
The Hungarian press law is again drawing fire from the European Union; the amendments adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on May 24 have not placated Brussels.
In an interview published on June 7 in the Budapest weekly Figyelo, Neelie Kroes, EU
Commissioner for the Digital Agenda and vice-president of the European Commission, said the recent changes failed to address the concerns of the EU and of the Council of Europe. The Hungarian media law remains embarrassing, Kroes added. It only addresses 11 of 66 recommendations made by the Council of Europe without guaranteeing the independence of the Media Authority or clarifying all ambiguities.
The media law that came into force in January 2011 established a Media Council appointed by parliament, meaning it would be packed with close allies of the ruling Fidesz party, with members serving a renewable nine-year term.
On May 25
Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE representative for freedom of the media, although acknowledging some improvements, criticized major provisions that legislators left in place. She mentioned in particular the ways of nomination and appointment of the
president and members of the Media Authority and Media Council and their power over content in the broadcast media, as well as the prospect of very heavy fines that can lead to self-censorship among journalists.
Not only did the Hungarian
government not follow most of the EU and the Council of Europe recommendations, but it also introduced new controversial clauses, like exempting the Media Council from concluding contracts for public tender in broadcasting.
One of Spain's leading underground artists is due to appear in court over a film short he made in 1978 on How to cook Jesus Christ (Cómo cocinar un Cristo).
Javier Krahe has been taken to court by a Catholic legal association, the
Centro Juridico Tomas Moro, for supposedly offending religious feelings . The Catholic association says the law has never before been applied in Spanish legal history.
Banned under Spain's strict censorship laws in 1978, Krahe's 54-second
film was finally broadcast on television in 2004 as the backdrop to an interview with the artist.
The film uses culinary language and images to show viewers how to remove the nails and separate him from the crucifix, which we leave to one side
before the white ebony figure of Christ is shown being lightly smothered in butter, placed on a bed of aromatic herbs in a glass tray, and popped into an oven. Another culinary guideline recommends using a proportion of one gaunt Christ
for each two potential diners. After three days inside, he comes out of the cooker by himself! is the film's punch line .
Two previous attempts to prosecute Krahe over the film ended up being dropped.
Krahe, who has sought to expose
the darker and more hypocritical facets of Spanish society for nearly half a century through acerbic anti-establishment humour, said he considers the trial over a film he made 34 years ago, and its much later broadcast, to be absurd.
Ferna'ndez Villa, the producer of the television programme in which Krahe's film was aired, is also on trial for the same crime
One of Spain's leading underground artists is due to appear in court over a film short he made in 1978 on How to cook Jesus Christ.
Javier Krahe has been taken to court by a Catholic legal association, the Centro Juridico Tomas Moro,
for supposedly offending religious feelings . The Catholic association says the law has never before been applied in Spanish legal history.
Banned under Spain's strict censorship laws in 1978, Krahe's 54-second film was finally broadcast on
television in 2004 as the backdrop to an interview with the artist.
The film uses culinary language and images to show viewers how to remove the nails and separate him from the crucifix, which we leave to one side before the white ebony
figure of Christ is shown being lightly smothered in butter, placed on a bed of aromatic herbs in a glass tray, and popped into an oven. Another culinary guideline recommends using a proportion of one gaunt Christ for each two potential
diners. After three days inside, he comes out of the cooker by himself! is the film's punch line .
Two previous attempts to prosecute Krahe over the film ended up being dropped.
Krahe, who has sought to expose the darker and more
hypocritical facets of Spanish society for nearly half a century through acerbic anti-establishment humour, said he considers the trial over a film he made 34 years ago, and its much later broadcast, to be absurd.
Montserrat Ferna'ndez Villa, the
producer of the television programme in which Krahe's film was aired, is also on trial for the same crime
According to web site Geneva Lunch, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) quietly suffered another setback in Switzerland where the Swiss Federal Council said it would not sign the agreement.
The Federal Council noted that since
negotiations for the treaty concluded criticism of ACTA has continued to grow in a number of countries. The Federal Council went on to say that they are taking fears expressed about ACTA seriously because they concern fundamental liberties and
important legal provisions.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will get a judicial review in
Europe's highest court, according to the Wall Street Journal. The European Commission has asked the European Court of Justice - the highest court in Europe, to review the treaty and make sure that it is compatible with current European treaties and the
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
The Court's opinion is vital to respond to the wide-ranging concerns voiced by people across Europe on whether ACTA harms our fundamental rights in any way, said John Clancy, the
spokesman for EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht.
Journalists in Ireland have raised concerns about the country's draconian gagging orders on police officers talking to the media, including allegations that the state is monitoring their mobile phone calls to try to reveal sources.
reporters have told MediaGuardian that the Irish police force, Garda Siocha'na, has questioned them about police contacts, threatened them with arrest and has been checking their mobile phone calls to suspected sources.
Ian Mallon, the deputy
editor of Dublin's Evening Herald newspaper, said the gardai appeared more interested in who was the source of his stories than in acting against a crime boss who put a EUR20,000 bounty on the head of his colleague Mick McCaffrey. Mallon described the
Garda's ongoing pursuit of journalists' sources in the Republic as Stasi-like .
The human rights organisation Index on Censorship said the Irish Republic's 2005 Garda Siochana Act, especially clause 62 of the legislation outlawing most rank
and file police contact with the media, was not the behaviour of a European democracy . Under the act, Irish police officers who speak to journalists without authorisation from their superiors can face fines of up to EUR75,000, dismissal from the
force or even seven years in prison.
Index on Censorship described the act and the recent upsurge in gardai pursuing journalists over their sources as akin to the kind of behaviour one would expect in an unreconstructed dictatorship .
I was overjoyed to see that Wolfenstein 3D has been released again as a free to play browser version. I was less pleased to find out that as I'm in Germany I am not able to actually play it. It's an interesting reminder that this World Wide Web isn't
quite all as worldwide as we might think.
The game that paved the way for Doom was released by iD Software 20 years ago, and Bethesda has written it up in handy cross-platform browser form.
The original Wolfenstein 3D was banned in Germany
because of the Natzi-related content. And it is still banned: attempting to use the browser version tells me that I cannot because of the country I'm in. Wolfenstein cannot be even given away in Germany.
The Court of The Hague has handed down another ruling that restricts access to The Pirate Bay website. The Court has forbidden the Dutch Pirate Party from linking to, operating or listing websites that allow the public to circumvent a local Pirate Bay
blockade. The political party is further ordered to shutdown its reverse proxy indefinitely and block Pirate Bay domains and IP-addresses from its generic proxy.
After two Dutch ISPs were ordered to censor The Pirate Bay earlier this year there
was an influx of visitors to Pirate Bay proxy sites. In an attempt to take these proxies offline the Hollywood funded anti-piracy group BREIN obtained an injunction against one of the sites and used this to convince others to shut down as well.
The list of secondary targets included the local Pirate Party, who initially refused to give in to the demands but were later ordered to take their reverse proxy offline by the court. The Pirate Party claimed that the case against them amounted to a restriction of their freedom of speech, and sued BREIN over the order.
The Court of The Hague then delivered its verdict, which confirms most of the earlier injunction. The Pirate Party is now forbidden from encouraging the public to circumvent the Pirate Bay blockade and from listing or hosting tools that can enable
others to do so. Should the Pirate Party fail to comply with the Court's ruling it faces fines of EUR5,000 per day to a maximum penalty of EUR250,000.
Pirate Party chairman Dirk Poot told TorrentFreak:
who where hoping for the law to come to the rescue of basic civil liberties, today must be a rough awakening. This ridiculously broad verdict allows BREIN to take down any site that is posting information that displeases their censors.
A first in Dutch law is that a judge has now also ordered a generic proxy to filter internet traffic as well. BREIN has created jurisprudence that will now allow them to come after any open proxy they have set their sights on.
The European Commission is considering setting up an age-based authentication system that limits where children can visit online. It says children are in danger of finding inappropriate material because ways to control where they can go are fragmented
The system is part of a series of proposals Brussels has put forward to make the net safer for children.
In its draft proposals, the commission warns that neglecting protections for children could have a profound impact on
European societies. Current child safety measures taken by member states covering parental controls, rating content and reporting illegal content are insufficient , according to the report. Many controls, such as filters for web pages, only work
well for English, it says, and in some sectors - such as mobile apps - rating, filtering and control systems are almost non-existent.
The report also says there is a dearth of sites specifically aimed at children where they can go to learn and
play, or ones which stimulate creativity and critical thinking.
More details of the proposals are expected to be published on the 30th of May.
A representative for freedom of the media at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that governments across the world are posing a threat to internet freedom. The governments in the US and UK, known for their willingness to
blame their political partners for violating human rights and freedoms, have turned out to be particular tough in suppressing internet freedom.
The OSCE says that one of major threats to internet freedom is inability of governments to adopt
effective laws. Dunja Mijatovic, the representative for freedom of the media for the OSCE, thinks that governments are still trying to restrict or suppress internet freedom and censor online content.
Practically complete internet freedom is a
matter of deep concerns for governments both in the developing countries, where opposition bloggers and journalists are often persecuted, and in the leading western democracies. All attempts to censor online content are usually described as measures
taken as part of the war on cyberterrorism. The US and the UK have been particularly active in using this term to justify their tough online censorship.
The publisher behind forthcoming fantasy video game Tera has responded to the angry fan response to news that the European version had been censored to secure a 12+ PEGI age rating.
Frogster's community manager has assured players that
the publisher had been taking the complaints seriously. He said:
We sincerely ask you to understand that we take all these issues very seriously, he wrote.
As you have all noticed, the blood
effect slider was removed from the OBT client. We want first of all to apologise to you for not communicating this change as it should have been. We understand the importance of being transparent with our community.
He then confirmed
that Frogster has decided to reinstate the aforementioned slider, via a post-launch patch due in May. But then added that the game would still be censored:
The European release version of the game will still have to be
slightly different from the North American and Korean build: the only threat to our 12+ classification was the blood splattered on your screen when you are slaying certain monsters. This effect is slightly modified in the European version..
Raven also clarified that changes had been made to the appearance of the game's Elin race.
[It was] not to comply with a demand from any official board, but because those characters in particular could
have attracted to the game a population of unsavoury users, and it is part of our responsibility to protect our younger audiences from them, he explained.
All partners involved in the project decided to ask Bluehole Studios for a
solution, so they created new textures and designs for Elin wear. We are sure you all agree that this effort for child protection was the right thing to do.
The main change is to change the lower body armor skin to give the appearance
that the young looking female characters are wearing trousers as opposed to knickers. See article from
The game will be released in Europe on 4th May 2012. with a PEGI 12 rating. The game is rated as Mature (M) in the US which is a '17' age rating.
BREIN, the Dutch entertainment industry trade association, has obtained a court order forcing a proxy provider to close down on the grounds that the site facilitated access to a well known file-sharing website.
In January, the Court of the Hague
ordered two of the Netherland's largest broadband providers to block the Pirate Bay via both IP and DNS blocking. However, users were still able to access the site via a number of proxy servers, some created with the purpose of circumventing the blocking
But last week BREIN obtained an injunction requiring the proxy site tpb.dehomies.nl to close down or face a fine of EUR1000 for every day the site remains online. The trade association immediately contacted the operators of a number of
other proxy servers threatening similar legal action if they refuse to close down their services. At least four complied within a week.
In their ongoing efforts to make The Pirate Bay inaccessible, the Hollywood-backed anti-piracy outfit BREIN is now going after the Dutch Pirate Party. BREIN is demanding that the political party ceases operating a proxy site, and is threatening to
The Pirate Party is not impressed by the demands and has sent BREIN their response as a torrent, fittingly hosted at The Pirate Bay.
Proxy sites sprung up in the Netherlands to work around ISP blocking of The Pirate Bay. In the space
of a few days hundreds of individuals setup proxy websites that allow customers of the ISPs to continue using The Pirate Bay.
Countering this move, local anti-piracy outfit BREIN obtained an injunction from the Court of The Hague which instructed
the proxy site tpb.dehomies.nl to shut down or face a 1000 euros a day fine. The group is now using this injunction to press other site owners to do the same.
Last week the local Pirate Party also received a letter from BREIN, demanding the
shutdown of their Pirate Bay proxy site hosted at tpb.piratenpartij.nl. However, unlike the site owners that were previously contacted by the group, the Pirate Party is not caving in. They would rather fight the case in court.
The Party informed
BREIN that the proxy site will stay online. To show that The Pirate Bay can be a useful communication tool the Pirate Party sent the letter through a torrent file, hosted on the BitTorrent site at the center of the dispute.
The demands are
ridiculous, Pirate Party chairman Dirk Poot told TorrentFreak:
A private lobbying organization should not be allowed to be the censor of the Dutch internet. We were also amazed to find an ex-parte decision
attached, threatening Dutch minors with EUR1000 per day fines for operating their proxy. If we would have yielded, their trick would immediately be played out against numerous other private citizens.
Last week the Dutch Pirate Party refused to cave in to the demands of Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group BREIN, who ordered the political party to take their
Pirate Bay proxy offline. As expected, BREIN didn't let the case rest.The group obtained an injunction from the Court of The Hague which ordered the Pirates to shutter the proxy within 6 hours, or face a fine of 10,000 euros per day.
So the Pirate
Party kept the proxy site offline and consulted with lawyers to see what steps could be taken next. However, BREIN wasn't sitting still either and asked the Court of The Hague for a new injunction, specifically naming the Pirate Party proxy.
injunction was issued, and the court orders the Pirates to take the proxy offline within 6 hours, or face a penalty of 10,000 euro per day. BREIN successfully argued that the proxy is an immediate threat to the effectiveness of the ISP blockade, and
submitted tweets of Pirate Party chairman who confirmed how much traffic the site received.
Faced with huge fines, the Dutch Pirate Party saw no other option than to take the proxy offline, replacing it with a list of tip and alternative proxies.
Monday the Pirate Party will file a request to overturn the injunction, meaning that while BREIN won the first battle, the war is far from over.
Update: Now Hollywood trade group attempts to gag a political party
The Hollywood-backed anti-piracy outfit BREIN is going all out to make The Pirate Bay inaccessible to the Dutch public. After successfully blocking The Pirate Bay through court, and then censoring proxy sites that linked to it, they are now
demanding that the Pirate Party should be banned from discussing how easily Internet censorship can be circumvented. The political party is baffled by the proposed gag-order and has asked the court to lift all censorship efforts.
in which the Pirate Party asked the court to lift all censorship restrictions, was heard by the court. BREIN, however, did exactly the opposite by submitting a rather broad set of new demands essentially asking the court to gag the political party.
In short BREIN's demands are as follows.
The Pirate Party should be banned from operating a reverse proxy for Pirate Bay
The Pirate Party should be banned from operating a generic proxy service
The Pirate Party should be banned from linking to third-party proxies
The Pirate Party should be banned from listing new IP-addresses / domains Pirate Bay registers
The Pirate Party should be banned from encouraging people to circumvent the Pirate Bay blockade
If the Pirate Party violates the above terms BREIN asked for a penalty of EUR10,000 per day, up to a maximum of EUR250,000.
Needless to say, the demands of the anti-piracy group are unprecedented for a copyright related case. It is
essentially a gag-order to enforce a previously obtained court verdict. If the court sides with BREIN this will have rather far-reaching consequences for people's freedom of speech.
David Martin, the European Parliament's rapporteur on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), has announced that he will recommend that Parliament votes against this controversial trade agreement because it does not provide enough guarantees for
Martin made this announcement at the end of a public debate organised by the Socialist & Democrats (S&D) Group in the European Parliament with representatives of industry, NGOs, unions, internet groups and citizens concerned
about the effects of implementing ACTA. David Martin said:
Today's conference has confirmed my suspicion that ACTA raises more fears than hopes.
What it delivers in terms of important
intellectual property rights is diminished by potential threats to civil liberties and internet freedom.
When the European Parliament rejects ACTA, the Commission must work to find other ways to defend European intellectual
property in the global marketplace.
The president of the S&D Group, Euro MP Hannes Swoboda, fully supported Martin's decision. He said:
Next week, at our upcoming group meeting, I will recommend
to all Socialists and Democrats to reject ACTA.
It will be important to find a way to solve standing problems through a transparent process and in a way whereby freedoms of Internet users will not be further restricted.
S&D vice-president Sylvie Guillaume said:
This conference has once again confirmed our fears about the potential risks of a text like this for the fundamental liberties of European citizens. It's
not a question of whether we should fight counterfeiting and piracy, but in this case, and given the legal uncertainty and doubts surrounding this Agreement, it is not acceptable.
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) in the European Parliament have just confirmed that they will reject ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade
Agreement. Leader of the Alliance, Guy Verhofstadt, said that while supporting the protection of intellectual property rights, ALDE believes that ACTA falls short on a number of counts.
Although we unambiguously support the protection of
intellectual property rights, we also champion fundamental rights and freedoms. We have serious concerns that ACTA does not strike the right balance, announced Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader.
Civil society has been extremely vocal in
recent months in raising their legitimate concerns on the ACTA agreement which we share. There are too many provisions lacking clarity and certainty as to the way they would be implemented in practice, Verhofstadt noted.
Update: European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda speaks against ACTA
The whole idea behind the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which late last year and earlier this year was signed (though not
ratified) by a number of countries, including the US and EU members, was to bring the world together to address the global fight against digital piracy, such as it is. But, as with so many things political, it appears that the process behind ACTA as much
as the provisions contained within it have all but doomed the law to the dustbin of history. At least that is what Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, has said is the likely outcome.
We have recently seen how many
thousands of people are willing to protest against rules which they see as constraining the openness and innovation of the internet, Kroes said Friday during a conference in Berlin: This is a strong new political voice. And as a force for
openness, I welcome it, even if I do not always agree with everything it says on every subject.
We are now likely to be in a world without SOPA and without ACTA.
The European Parliament has called for new rules to monitor Internet censorship by autocratic regimes. It voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion with, 580 votes for, 28 against and 74 abstentions.
British MEP, Richard Howitt, said that new
technologies have massive implications for human rights and that the European Union needs a coherent policy: There is a race between those harnessing new media to the purpose of liberation and those who seek to use it for repression.
resolution calls for the European Commission to come up with new rules by 2013 to improve the monitoring of E.U. exports of technology that can be used to censor or block websites and monitor mobile communications. It also wants more accountability for
companies that willfully sell to despotic regimes.
France's attempts to prevent premature leaks of the first round presidential election results set Twitter alight with jokes, code and cryptic messages recalling Second World War radio communications.
Netherlands-Hungary qualify for return leg,
said one tweet in a play on the name of Socialist challenger Francois Hollande and the origin of President Nicolas Sarkozy's father.
Seeking to enforce a 1977 law that imposed a blackout on disclosing results, projections or exit polls before
the last polling stations close at 8pm, authorities threatened fines of up to 75,000 euros for breaches.
But official warnings spurred derision and defiance with a profusion of dummy results and fun-poking messages on a microblogging network.
Norwegian Media Authority (Mediatilsynet) banned three movies for sale and show among only four films which were censored.
The three films that were banned were Obsession - Buckstuck , Pure and A Serbian Film ,
The German Obsession - Buckstuck , which is a sadomasochistic film, was considered to be in violation of Penal Code. We can accept any SM movies, but this went too far, the censor reported. In fact the DVD covers suggests something
The American Pure is a traditional hardcore movie with extraordinary violence. According to the censor, it was the violence that invoked the ban, not the sex.
The Serbian Film was banned
because it contains violence with the sexualisation of children. Ove Wathne of Mediatilsynet told daily Dagens Naeringsliv that it is usually an ingredient that provides a basis for an assessment of the Authority.
In Norway films are self rated by the distributors. The Norwegian media censors step in on demand, presumably in response to complaints or controversy.
France's conservative government has unveiled new counterterrorism measures to punish those who visit extremist websites or travel to weapons-training camps abroad, in the wake of killings by an suspected Islamic extremist in southern France last month.
The measures now go to Parliament, where they may face resistance from the Socialists, who say France's legal arsenal against terrorism is already strong enough and that the proposal is a campaign ploy to boost President Nicolas Sarkozy's chances
at a second term.
Sarkozy's Cabinet gave its go-ahead to measures that would make it illegal to travel abroad to indoctrination and weapons-training camps for terrorist ends or to regularly visit websites that incite or praise deadly
Sarkozy's government insists the measures are needed to fight the relatively new phenomenon of lone wolf terrorism by extremists who self-radicalize online via jihadist Web sites, and are hard for authorities to track.
Israel has declared the German Nobel laureate, Gunther Grass, persona non grata following the publication of his poem suggesting that the Jewish State poses a greater threat to world peace than Iran.
The celebrated author, 84, noted for
The Tin Drum , was forced to defend his poem, explaining that his criticism was directed at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and not Israel as a whole.
After the work was published in a German newspaper last week, Netanyahu accused
the author of shameful moral equivalence and suggested that his criticisms derived from his time in the Waffen-SS during the Second World War.
Reflecting the bitter official mood in Israel, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said that Grass would
in future be barred from entering the country. Grass's poems are an attempt to guide the fire of hate towards the State of Israel... and to advance the ideas of which he was a public partner in the past, when he wore the uniform of the SS, Yishai
In his poem What must be said , Grass said that Israel endangered a fragile world peace and warned that it could wipe out the Iranian people with a first strike to stop Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Under pressure from the German government, media censors at BLM have initaiated an action to remove Iran's international English Channel, Press TV, from SES Astra.
In an email sent to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting officials, Vice
President of the SES Platforms Services, Stephane Goebel, noted that the BLM has asked Press TV be immediately removed from the platform.
The authority has claimed that Iran's English-speaking channel does not have a license for broadcast in
Europe. Goebel added that his company will be no longer able to keep the Press TV signal on air and will need to shut down the service without further notice.
The channel was turned of on 3rd April.
Press TV has responded that the
decision to remove Press TV is a flagrant breach of regulations and a disproportionate act. The channel has said that it will be demanding compensation unless transmissions are restored by April 5.
Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyed Mohammad Hosseini said that Tehran will not sit silent about the ban on Iran's International English Channel, Press TV, and will pursue the case through legal channels. He said:
We will legally pursue the case with (Germany's) taking Press TV Network off the air. We too enjoy leverages and will use them, and we won't keep quiet,
We don't want to reciprocate this move,
rather we will condemn it. We condemn those who claim to be advocates of the free flow of information and democracy but are not ready to tolerate a network of ours.