The European Parliament is currently considering EU wide website blocking powers.
The latest draft of the directive on combating terrorism contains proposals on blocking websites that promote or incite terror attacks. Member states may take all
necessary measures to remove or to block access to webpages publicly inciting to commit terrorist offences, says text submitted by German MEP and rapporteur Monika Hohlmeier.
Digital rights activists have argued that it leaves the door wide
open to over-blocking and censorship as safeguards defending proportionality and fundamental rights can be skipped if governments opt for voluntary schemes implemented by ISPs.
Amendments have been proposed that would require any take down
or Web blocking to be subject to full judicial oversight and rubber stamping.
Last week, Estonian MEP Marju Lauristin told Ars she was very disappointed with the text, saying it was jeopardising freedom of expression as enshrined in the
Charter of Fundamental Rights of EU.
The measure will be up for a vote by the civil liberties committee on 27th June.
A Cologne court has refused to grant an injunction against the chief executive of leading publishing house Axel Springer, Mathias Doepfner, at the behest of Tayyip Recep Erdogan.
Doepfner penned an open letter in support of a satirist mocking the
Seeking a preliminary injunction, Erdogan requested that a lawsuit be filed against Doepfner. In a letter published by Die Welt in April, Doepfner said that he wholeheartedly endorsed the critical poem over which the German
comic Jan Bohmermann has been facing defamation charges from Erdogan. He added:
For me your poem worked. I laughed out loud.
The lawyer's firm and Erdogan's office refused to comment on the matter,
while the media group giant's spokeswoman said that by writing the letter Doepfner wanted to protect freedom of speech.
On Monday Erdoga's law firm announced on its website that it had been successful in obtaining a preliminary injunction against
German director and producer Uwe Boll who had also reportedly backed the poem. However, neither Axel Springer, nor Doepfner himself was mentioned in the statement.
The regional court in Bonn has decided that the German censors who effectively banned Rammstein''s CD, Liebe ist für alle da , acted illegally and must pay the band 15,000 euros in damages.
This assessment from the Bonn Regional Court upheld
the decision of the Cologne Administrative Court. The ban was triggered by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons in Bonn.
The rock band had sued the Federal Republic of Germany for just under 70,000 euros. In 2009, the Federal
Department had put the CD on the index for youth-endangering media, because one of the songs titled I hurt you you was classified as brutalizing and immoral.
The 'classification' banned all promotion and advertising for the CD and imposed
suffocating restrictions at the point of sale. The ban continued for 6 months until the Cologne Administrative Court lifted the ban.
The Bonn judge said the censors had weighed insufficiently between artistic freedom and youth protection. However
the court downsized the amount of damages from that requested.
The parties now have one month to consider this proposal.
Gay issues seem to be slipping down the political correctness pecking order, perhaps with gay discrimination dropping below religious discrimination. Even Sweden is now censoring gay relationships on TV, perhaps to avoid 'offending' their newly
Swedish authorities have just been caught censoring a brewing lesbian romance between two main characters in an episode of popular Cartoon Network show Steven Universe.
Steven Universe, which premiered in 2013 in the US
on Cartoon Network, revolves around the fictional Beach City where a boy called Steven hangs out with his friends, who are Crystal Gems who can fuse to create more powerful characters. In particular Ruby and Sapphire are both female gems and are
very much in love with one another.
The Swedish-dubbed version of the show's episode Hit the Diamond about a baseball match has been censored to mute some of the romantic dialogue between Ruby and Sapphire. Eg removing the lines:
Ruby: Just look at the ball -- Titter på bollen (Just look at the ball)
Sapphire: I'm trying, but all I wanna look at is you -- Jag försöker, jag har problem med
koncentrationen ( I'm trying, I have problems with concentration)
Ruby: Do not worry, you can look at me when you're running for home -- Ingen fara, fokusera på segern när du springer runt (No worries, focus on
victory when you run)
The censored conversation prompted an angry reaction. A 1300 signature petition saw the dubbing as:
An active choice to censor the relationship that Ruby and Sapphire have?¦
This happens in 2016 in Sweden, a country that is known worldwide for being progressive in its views and accepting of LGBTQ+ people.
If the two female characters are in love in the original show, there is
no reason that we in Sweden would change this relationship.
The authors demanded that Cartoon Network issues a written promise never to censor Ruby and Sapphire's relationship in their translation or otherwise, as well as to stop
mistranslating occasions when these two female characters show love for each other.
Cartoon Network confirmed that the censorship was a local intervention and is not attributable to the US branch.
The German Right-wing publisher Schelm-Verlag intends to release a version of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf without annotations.
Amid much furor, Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf returned to German bookstores in January - albeit in annotated
form. The first editions, with around 3,700 comments from historians, intended to put the diatribe into context, sold out within weeks.
The publication was made possible only this year after the book's copyright had expired, 70 years after
Hitler's death. Legally speaking, the work is considered seditious. But with the annotations by the Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History, the legal case for publication was sound. That's not necessarily the case for the new unannotated
Schelm, based in Leipzig, is already taking orders on its website for the unaltered reprint, which the publisher says will serve as a source of public education, help defend against unconstitutional efforts and provide historical
documentation for the academic world.
An Italian newspaper has generated a little 'outrage' for a promotion offering free copies of an annotated version of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf . Il Giornale started selling an eight-volume history of the Third Reich, with the annotated copy of
Mein Kampf free for readers who bought the first volume.
The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, said on Twitter that Il Giornale's decision to give away the copies of the Nazi leader's political treatise was squalid, as he expressed solidarity
with Italy's Jewish community:
But Il Giornale, a centre-right daily owned by the family of Berlusconi, claimed the decision to distribute the edition of the text, which includes critical notes by an Italian historian, aimed to study what is
evil to avoid its return .
Three years ago Martin Budich, the organizer of a group called Religious Freedom in the Ruhr , decided to put on a public viewing of the comedy classic Monty Python's Life of Brian on Good Friday in the western city of Bochum.
three years later Budich is preparing to face the highest court in the land for the simple act of showing a film which is rated suitable for children in most countries. Budich explained to The Local.
Showing the film
was a deliberate act of rebellion against the holiday laws which every German state has, and which prevent people from partying - or showing films that are not approved by the state - on religious holidays.
On Thursday the
final obstacle to taking this law to the constitutional court was removed, after the High Court in North Rhine-Westphalia upheld a ruling from a lower court that ordered Budich to pay a 100 euro fine.
He can now appeal the decision in Federal
Constitutional Court which will have to consider whether the prohibition of showing the movie was in breach of Budich's constitutional rights.
Clear, transparent and adequate safeguards are needed to protect the free expression of internet users and ensure their access to information, according to Thorbjørn Jagland.
The Secretary General expressed his concerns following the 1 June
publication of a study, commissioned to the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law, on the regulations governing blocking, filtering and removal of Internet content in the organisation's 47 member states.
Jagland wants European governments to ensure
that their legal frameworks and procedures in this area are in compliance with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. He said:
Governments have an obligation to combat the promotion of terrorism, child
abuse material, hate speech and other illegal content online.
However, I am concerned that some states are not clearly defining what constitutes illegal content. Decisions are often delegated to authorities who are given a wide
margin for interpreting content, potentially to the detriment of freedom of expression. On the basis of this study we will take a constructive approach and develop common European standards to better protect freedom of expression online.
EU introduces requirement for social media companies to censor 'hate speech'. No doubt the internet companies will censor first and ask questions later and then find its not worth their while to investigate further
The European Union has signed a censorship deal with four of the world's biggest tech firms which will see content censored in just 24 hours should someone claim that the content is 'hate speech'.
Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google have all
committed to new rules designed to ensure that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally .
All four firms have committed to quickly analyse and remove content involving public incitement
to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin .
Vera Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender
Equality, said, The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech. She didn't mention how important it is to let people criticise groups behind those terror attacks
Eurocrats have claimed
the laws are not about stifling freedom of expression, but making sure social media isn't used to spread extremist messages of hate.
But not everyone is buying this claim. Keith Porteus Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society,
issued a statement condemning the hate speech laws . He wrote:
The public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion,
descent or national or ethnic origin will create a chilling effect on freedom of expression and will be misused to muzzle it
On Twitter, one person insightfully observed that Brussels was intent on banning speech we don't like by
calling it hate speech .
Jodie Ginsberg, Index on Censorship chief executive, noted:
Hate speech laws are already too broad and ambiguous in much of Europe. This agreement fails to properly define what
'illegal hate speech' is and does not provide sufficient safeguards for freedom of expression.
The agreement once again devolves power to unelected corporations to determine what amounts to hate speech and police it. There have
been precedents of content removal for unpopular or offensive viewpoints and this agreement risks amplifying the phenomenon of deleting controversial, yet legal, content via misuse or abuse of the notification processes.
A new legislative proposal amending the AVMSD has been adopted by the European Commission on 25 May 2016. The reform brings the Directive in line with the new realities. Share A media framework for the 21st century
and particularly minors, are moving from traditional TV to the online world, while the regulatory burden is much higher on TV. The Directive therefore introduces flexibility when restrictions only applicable to TV are no longer justified. At the same
time, it ensures that consumers will be sufficiently protected in the on-demand and Internet world. This is done while making sure that innovation will not be stifled.
The idea is to achieve a balance between competitiveness and
The main new elements of the proposal are summarised below:
The Country of origin principle (COO)
COO is a cornerstone of the Directive . It will be maintained and facilitated by:
simplifying the rules which determine the country having jurisdiction over a provider,
establishing an obligation on Member States to inform about what providers are under their jurisdiction and
maintaining an up-to-date database to ensure transparency,
clarifying cooperation procedures between Member States regarding permissible limitations to COO.
The proposed modifications aim at reducing the burden of TV broadcasters while maintaining, and even reinforcing those rules seeking to protect the most vulnerable. For
example, the revised AVMSD:
maintains the strict 20% limit on advertising time, but gives broadcasters more flexibility as to when ads can be shown,
it allows more flexibility in putting product placement and sponsorship,
it encourages the adoption of self- and co-regulation for the existing rules seeking to protect the most vulnerable (alcohol advertising, fatty food, minors, etc.).
Promotion of European works
The proposed modifications aim at enhancing the promotion of European works by:
allowing MS to impose financial contributions to providers of on-demand services established in other MS (but only on the turnover generated in the imposing country),
putting on-demand players under
the obligation to promote European content to a limited level by imposing a minimum quota obligations (20% share of the audiovisual offer of their catalogues) and an obligation to give prominence to European works in their catalogues,
low turnover companies, thematic services and small and micro enterprises are exempted from these requirements.
Prohibition of hate speech
The grounds for prohibiting hate speech will be aligned to those of the Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia (
Decision 2008/913/JHA ). This prohibits incitement to violence and hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to sex, race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.
Protection of Minors
The proposed modifications aim at simplifying the obligation to protect minors against harmful content. It now says that everything that 'may be harmful' should be restricted on all
services. The most harmful content shall be subject to the strictest measures, such as PIN codes and encryption. This will apply also to on-demand services.
Member States shall ensure that audiovisual media service providers
provide sufficient information to viewers about harmful content to minors. For this purpose, Member States may use a system of descriptors indicating the nature of the content of an audiovisual media service.
Video-sharing platforms will be included in the scope of the AVMSD only when it comes to combat hate speech and dissemination of harmful content to minors.
Platforms which organise and tag a large
quantity of videos will have to protect minors from harmful content and to protect all citizens from incitement to hatred, based on new EU-specific terms in the revised AVMSD. Fully in line with the ecommerce Directive , this builds on existing efforts
by the industry and will be implemented by co-regulation.
The Audiovisual Regulators
The independence of audiovisual regulators will be enshrined into EU law by ensuring that they are
legally distinct and functionally independent from the industry and government (eg they do not seek nor take instructions), operate in a transparent and accountable manner which is set out in a law and have sufficient powers.
ERGA (The European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services)
ERGA will have a bigger role in shaping and preserving the internal market, for example in assessing EU co-regulatory codes and will
take part in the procedures derogating from the country of origin.
The role of the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) will be set out in EU legislation.
Once adopted by the European Commission, the legislative proposal is sent to the European Parliament and to the Council.
There are positive messages in the
document, but also some problematic ones. CDT has consistently pushed back on proposals that would endanger the internet as an enabler of free expression, public debate, and access to information.
Google has appealed to France's highest court after the country's internet censor ordered it to delete some of its search results globally.
In 2015, the Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) said Google should respect French right to be
forgotten rulings worldwide. Companies offering services to European citizens must comply with the ruling, even if their websites are not hosted in Europe.
But Google said the ruling could lead to abuse by less open and democratic countries. The company is now appealing against a 100,000-euro (£76,000) CNIL fine. Google says results can end up removed
even when those links point to truthful and lawfully published information like newspaper articles or official government websites .
Google currently blocks all right to be forgotten content from all searches for users with a European IP
address. Viewers from outside the EU and Europeans using non European proxies or VPNs can still access that links censored in Europe.
Google argues that a French authority such as the CNIL should not impose measures outside of the nation's
borders . Kent Walker, the company's general counsel said:
For hundreds of years, it has been an accepted rule of law that one country should not have the right to impose its rules on the citizens of other
In an open letter published in French newspaper Le Monde, Google said it had already received requests from countries to block content worldwide that was illegal locally. The letter said:
If French law applies globally, how long will it be until other countries - perhaps less open and democratic - start demanding that their laws regulating information likewise have global reach?
This order could lead to a global
race to the bottom, harming access to information that is perfectly lawful to view in one's own country.
This is not just a hypothetical concern. We have received demands from governments to remove content globally on various
We have resisted, even if that has sometimes led to the blocking of our services.
According to AFP, Google expects the Council of State, France's highest court, will take at least a year to review its
A court in Hamburg has issued a preliminary injunction banning 18 of the 24 verses in a German comedian's satirical poem lampooning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for being supposedly abusive and defaming.
The court order issued on
Tuesday applies to the whole of Germany, Reuters reported. The court explianed its censorship:
Through the poem's reference to racist prejudice and religious slander as well as sexual habits, the verses in question go
beyond what the petitioner [Erdogan] can be expected to tolerate,
Whenever the authorities use the word 'balance' it invariably means that rights are being taken away. The German court is no exception. It said the decision was
necessary to balance the right to artistic freedom and the personal rights of Turkey's leader, but added that its ruling could be appealed.
Three jewsih organisations in France say they are planning legal action against Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for failing to remove posts that the gorups consider to be hate speech
The French Jewish Students Union (UEJF), SOS Racisme and SOS
Homophobie say they found 586 posts between 31 March and 10 May that they claim to be offensive. But they claim only a small percentage was taken down.
French law states that racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic content must be removed from
YouTube's side of the argument can be inferred from deciding that the posts did not break their rule:
But from YouTube's side of the argument, they decided not to remove the content when tested against their rules that YouTube
does not support content which:
Promotes or condones violence against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status or sexual orientation/gender
identity, or whose primary purpose is inciting hatred on the basis of these core characteristics.
Facebook also decided that the posts did not break their rules and added also that it does allow:
Clear attempts at humour or satire that might otherwise be considered a possible threat or attack.
Twitter' also decided that complained about posts did not transgress their rules.
Germany's parliament was 'shocked' when one MP read aloud Jan Bohmermann's poem about Turkey's president which sparked an international free speech row last month. His performance was aired on national TV. He said the aim had been to show how awful
The poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gained an audience in the Bundestag when Detlef Seif, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party recited the entire text standing at the pulpit.
audience gasped in awe when Seit began to recite the text.
Seit said he wanted to illustrate how awful the text was, claiming that he had been absolutely disgusted by it:
I didn't want to do this, but I read
this to you so that one knows what was actually said here. A person's honor is clearly infringed upon here.
People operating open WiFi networks in Germany have long risked being held liable for the actions of those using them. However, to the relief of thousands of citizens that position will change later this year after the country's coalition government
decided to abolish the legislation which holds operators responsible for the file-sharing activities of others.
In many countries it's accepted that whoever commits a crime or a civil tort in the file-sharing space is the person that should be held
directly responsible for it.
In Germany, however, the position is more complex. Due to a concept known as störerhaftung, a third party who played no intentional part in someone else's infringements can be held liable for them. This type of
liability has raised its head in many file-sharing cases where open WiFi owners have been considered liable for other people's infringements.
Now, however, this stifling situation is probably in its dying days. According to a Spiegel report,
Germany's ruling coalition have agreed to abolish the so-called interferer liability .
This means that both private and small scale WiFi operators (such as cafe owners) will soon enjoy the same freedom from liability enjoyed by commercial
operators. No splash-pages or password locks will be required meaning that open WiFi hotspots will at last become as freely available in Germany as they are already in countries such as France and the UK.
Pressure had been mounting on the German
government following a European Court of Justice opinion published in March which held that entities operating unsecured wireless networks should not be held liable for the copyright infringements of third parties.
The case involves Pirate Party
member Tobias McFadden who received a claim from music company Sony who alleged that his open WiFi was used to offer an album without permission. Sony demanded that McFadden prevent future infringement by password protecting his network, blocking
file-sharing ports, and logging/blocking users sharing copyrighted content. The Pirate objected to Sony's claims of liability and the case went to the European Court of Justice.
The final judgment from the ECJ is not expected for a few months but
in most cases early recommendations from experts are upheld by the ruling judge.
According to reports the legislative amendments are set to be passed by Parliament next week and could be in place as early as this fall.
A court in Dresden has found the head of the German anti-Islam Pegida movement guilty of inciting hatred. Lutz Bachmann was fined 9,600 euro by the court on 3 May after describing immigrants as scum and cattle in Facebook posts.
prosecution, which had demanded a jail sentence for Bachmann, and the defence both said they will appeal the decision.
Bachmann's laywer, Katja Reichel, argued that his Facebook account could have been hacked. But in video footage shown at the
trial Bachmann defended the Facebook comments to Pegida supporters, remarking the post used a few words that any of us would use .
Trial judge Hans Hlavka told the court that it was clear that Bachmann was responsible for the comments,
which could not be defended under freedom of speech laws.
For over 8 months we've been following the EU Commission's dangerous attempts to impose a new link tax on news content. But today we're writing about a stunning new development we wanted to make
sure you heard:
The European Commission have launched a special process to push forward a new, bigger, broader, version of the hyperlinking fee.
EU decision-makers and lobbyists are calling it a
neighbouring right, a snippet tax, or ancillary copyright. But we know what it is: a tax on linking.
If they succeed the link tax could make some of your favourite content virtually disappear from search engines.
We've seen this bad idea before, but as MEP Julia Reda put it, this is a "broader and badder version" of the previous push for a Link Tax. 1
Anti-innovation politicians are also talking about a
special YouTube tax 2 and still others are pushing the idea of a user fee or a search fee! 3
These terrible ideas will restrict freedom of expression and access to information, but they still want to push ahead.
European decision-makers are in the process of writing a new copyright law and lobbyists are pushing for something called "ancillary copyright". If the lobbyists succeed, copyright rules will be extended to links and
the text that accompanies them -- giving legacy publishers the right to charge fees for linking to content.
If this sounds familiar it's because late last year people like you in the OpenMedia community overwhelmed EU
decision-makers 4 by flooding their public consultation on the Link Tax proposal.
The Internet community has said no, 5 European Parliamentarians have said no, 6 many publishers themselves have said no. 7 Enough is enough already!
If we act now we have a chance to put a stop to this idea before it gets out of control.
Berlin-based newspaper die tageszeitung published a German-Turkish edition that denounced media censorship under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and European silence about it.
The 16-page special edition entitled Uncensored / Sansursuz was
produced jointly with Turkish weekly Agos and BirGun daily and featured stories with headlines including What is the [Turkish] government hiding?
An editorial accused Berlin and Brussels of staying largely silent on Ankara's alleged rights
abuses at a time when the European Union needs Turkey to limit the influx of migrants and refugees from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.
Jan Böhmermann, the German satirist facing possible charges for insulting Erdogan, meanwhile broke his silence in an
interview with Die Zeit weekly. He said in a pre-released excerpt:
The chancellor must not wobble when it comes to freedom of expression. Instead she filleted me, served me up to a neurotic despot for tea and turned me
into a German Ai Weiwei.
Offsite Article: You’ve got to laugh? Erdogan has failed to export his sense-of-humour failure.
Ger Connolly Acting Director of Film Classification introduces IFCO's Annual Report for 2015:
The year under review showed an unexpected, but welcome, increase in the number of DVD submissions. This 7% increase
is very satisfying as it reinforces yet again the desire of our business partners to have their product classified by IFCO for distribution in Ireland. Consequently it affords the consumer the opportunity to make informed choices based on a consistent
level of classification.
Cinema films classified dropped very slightly to 371, while DVDs increased to 4065.
The second part of our in-house research project, undertaken during 2014, was published early in
the year. With the focus on post primary students' parents, it should come as no surprise that the greatest level of concern is towards the depiction of violence in all its forms. As a result of these consultations it is my intention to review our
published guidelines during 2016 with a view to updating and expanding on the various classification issues.
Estonian commissioner Andrus Ansip has re-introduced one of his favourite suggestions: using national ID cards to log in to online services: Online platforms need to accept credentials issued or recognised by national public authorities, such as
electronic ID cards, citizen cards, bank cards or mobile IDs .
He claims that this is nothing to do with making mass surveillance easier, its apparently just to help users with their password management.
Estonia introduced online ID in
2012 and it is claimed that subjects are happy with it too.
The Turkish embassy is attempting to censor a Swedish channel broadcast pf a documentary film about the Armenian genocide.
Ahead of Sunday evening's scheduled broadcast of a documentary titled Seyfo 1915 : The Assyrian Genocide , TV4
said it received an email from Turkish embassy press officer Arif Gulen, in which he opposes the film's use of the term genocide, which is often used to describe the tragic death of thousands of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks during WWI.
The letter, which was subsequently published on TV4's official website claims hat only a competent international tribunal can determine whether a particular event is genocide.
The broadcaster denounced Gulen's attempt to pressure the
channel to cancel its broadcast, while promising to air the documentary on Sunday despite the warning. TV4's program director, Viveka Hansson said on the website:
We can never accept this. We will protest against any
attempt to exert pressure that threatens freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, an orchestra in Germany has accused Turkey of forcing it to change the name of a concert it is scheduled to give on April 30, as well as remove a piece from
its program that calls the massacre of Armenians a genocide. The name of the event is Aghet, a term commonly used by Armenians to describe the events of 1915 as genocide, whose literal translation in English is catastrophe.
Dresden Symphony orchestra said that Turkey's delegation to the EU had reportedly asked the European Commission (EC), which is financially supporting the event, to defund the concert and remove its title from the EC's official website. While the
Commission declined to withdraw the financial support, it did remove the announcement of the concert. A spokesperson for the Commission came up with a few weasel words to justify the censorship:
Due to concerns raised
regarding the wording used in the project description, the Commission temporarily withdrew it,
The orchestra's director, Markus Rindt, slammed Turkey's bold interference as an an infringement on freedom of expression.
An orchestra in Germany has accused Turkey of forcing it to change the name of a concert it is scheduled to give on April 30, as well as remove a piece from its program that calls the massacre of Armenians a genocide. The name of the event is Aghet
, a term commonly used by Armenians to describe the events of 1915 as genocide, whose literal translation in English is catastrophe.
The Dresden Symphony orchestra said that Turkey's delegation to the EU had reportedly asked the
European Commission (EC), which is financially supporting the event, to defund the concert and remove its title from the EC's official website. While the Commission declined to withdraw the financial support, it did remove the announcement of the
concert. A spokesperson for the Commission came up with a few weasel words to justify the censorship:
Due to concerns raised regarding the wording used in the project description, the Commission temporarily withdrew
The orchestra's director, Markus Rindt, slammed Turkey's bold interference as an an infringement on freedom of expression.
Dutch MPs have called for a parliamentary debate about a letter that was sent out by Turkey's consulate in Rotterdam calling Turkish organizations in the Netherlands to report people who insult the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Party, SP, demanded a debate on the matter. MP Sade Karabulut described the email as Erdogan's long arm in the Netherlands and accused the Turkish government of trying to intervene at Netherland's domestic affairs. A parliamentary majority
supported the MP's call for a debate, though it hasn't been scheduled yet.
The move was not well received by many in Turkey too. The Dutch offices of Turkish opposition party CHP received numerous calls from concerned Dutch citizens with Turkish
origins. CHP chairman Axu Ozalp said to the Volkskrant newspaper:
People are afraid because they once responded to something critical on Facebook or Twitter for example. They worry about whether they can still go on holiday to Turkey with peace of mind or will they be stopped at the border. This is
very worrying and we therefore also emphatically disapprove of this call.
Update: Turkey demonstrates the need for people to be able to ridicule repressive politicians
Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has claimed that the German comedian who ridiculed Turkey's president is a racist. He added that Europe had no right to bombard his country with lectures on freedom of expression.
The row came as
Angela Merkel joined Davutoglu, Donald Tusk, the European Council President, and Frans Timmermans, the European commission vice president, to review the EU's migration deal at a refugee camp in Gaziantep. Davutoglu whinged about Jan Böhmermann's
performance and the resultant press criticism of Turkey's attack on free speech:
There was an insult against our president. The freedom of the press should never respect negate for human dignity. I mean, very heavy
insults against a president of a country that one should not read or hear about? Is that really part of freedom of the press? If the same words were uttered for the president of another nation, would they be acceptable I wonder?
Donald Tusk stood up for free speech replying:
As a politician, I have learned and accepted to have a thick skin, and I have no expectation that the Press will treat me with a special care - quite the opposite.
The line between criticism, insult and defamation is very thin and relative, and the moment politicians decide which is which can mean the end between freedom of expression, in Europe, in Turkey, in Africa and Russia, everywhere. I
hope that in the future freedom of speech will not be our main topic of dialogue.
Dutch comedian Hans Teeuwen has weighed in to the free speech battle with the repressive Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Teeuwen has produced a YouTube video having fun with the claim that Erdogan used to be a boywhore in an
Istanbul brothel. The video takes the form of Teeuwen being interviewed by a reporter.
The reporter repeatedly says the claims are satire or a sketch, but Teeuwen, who tours the UK this autumn, insists this is a true story. When challenged
that he is insulting a befriended head of state, the comic replies: This is a whore customer standing up for his rights.
Both Germany and The Netherlands have laws against insulting foreign heads of state which means Teeuwen could
also find himself in legal trouble. Hopefully Erdogan hasn't so much leverage over the Netherlands compared to Germany.
Nobody should be surprised that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has instituted effective blasphemy laws to defend himself from criticism in Turkey. But many of us had assumed that these lèse-majesté laws would not yet be put in place inside
At the end of last month, during a late-night comedy programme, a young German comedian called Jan Böhmermann included a poem that was rude about Erdogan. Incidentally the point of Mr Böhmermann's skit was to highlight the
obscenity of Turkey already trying to censor satire in Germany.
What happened next happened in swift order. First of all the Turks complained to their German counterparts. Within a few days the programme had been pulled. A few
more days and it was whitewashed out of existence altogether. In the meantime Mr Böhmermann himself was forced to go under police protection. The worst blow then came late last week when Chancellor Merkel allowed the prosecution of Mr Böhmermann to go
ahead in Germany. Strangely enough, Chancellor Merkel is currently pretending that the trial of a German comedian in Germany for insulting a foreign despot is a liberal act. .
Well I'm a free-born British man, and we don't live
under the blasphemy laws of such despots. So in honour of this fact I have spent the weekend writing rude limericks about Mr Erdogan. And I would hereby like to invite all readers to join me in a grand Erdogan limerick competition. That isn't to say that
entries which come in the form of Iambic pentameters, or heroic couplets will be completely discounted. I think a work in the Homeric mode, for example, about the smallness of Erdogan's manhood could (if suitably disgusting) stand some chance of winning.
But I recommend limericks because almost everything insulting that is worth saying can usually be included within the five lines of that beautiful and delicate form.
A generous reader, who shares the Spectator's belief in the
freedom of speech, is offering a £1000 prize for the best limerick. We've had some great entries so far, please keep them coming.
And the melon farmers get the ball rolling:
There was a little dicked hater from Turkey, Who
got his hooks into a frau somewhat murky, He bullied and cajoled, Got free speech overruled, And celebrated by fucking the donkey.
Update: Thousands of entries
25th April 2016. From
Well the entries have been flooding in for the Insult Erdogan Poetry Contest . Thousands and thousands of them in fact, with entries from all over the world. The volume is quite extraordinary,
particularly the number that are being submitted in Arabic.
Next week there is going to be a major development as I unveil the international prize jury who are going to help judge the event. I am proud to say that we already have
an extraordinary array of international literary stars who are going to help adjudicate what is now the world's highest paying poetry prize.
MPs from the two Dutch liberal parties VVD and D66 have called on the government to scrap a law making it a criminal offence to insult a friendly head of state.
Similar legislation in Germany is being used by Turkey to prosecute Jan Böhmermann
, a comedian who read out an insulting poem about the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on television.
VVD MP Joost Taverne said:
Foreign leaders who are easily offended should not be able to go to court
to try to undermine our constitution.
GroenLinks and the anti-Islam PVV also back scrapping the law, meaning there would be majority support if the issue came to a vote.
MPs from the ruling Labour party are not so keen on free
speech. Justice spokesman Jeroen Recourt said:
Every foreigner, head of state or not, who feels he has been insulted by someone in the Netherlands can make a complaint here.
It is up to the
public prosecution department whether or not to take it further. That is different in Germany, where the chancellor has to give permission for the case to continue. The German situation could never happen here.
comedian Hans Teeuwen appeared on RTL news defending Jan Böhmermann and issuing his own tirade of sexual insults against Erdogan.
Linking to pirated content that is already available to the public can not be seen as copyright infringement under the European Copyright Directive. This is the advice Advocate General Melchior Wathelet has sent to the EU Court of Justice, in what may
turn out to be a landmark case.
One of the key roles of the EU's Court of Justice is to interpret European law to ensure that it's applied in the same manner across all member states. The Court is also called upon by national courts to clarify finer
points of EU law to progress local cases with Europe-wide implications.
In recent years the Court was called upon to rule on several cases related to hyperlinking, in an effort to established whether links to other websites can be seen as
Previously, it ruled that links to copyrighted works are not infringing if the copyright holder published them in public, and the same is true for embedding copyrighted videos.
But what if a link points to content
that is not authorized by the copyright holder? Would this still be allowed? According to EU Advocate General Melchior Wathelet, it is.
In an advisory opinion to the EU Court of Justice, which will issue a final ruling later, the Advocate General
reviewed a dispute between the Dutch weblog GeenStijl.nl and Playboy. In October 2011, GeenStijl.nl published a post linking to leaked Playboy photos, which were hosted on the file-hosting service FileFactory. Playboy publisher Sanoma successfully
requested the removal of the photos at the hosting service, but in response GeenStijl continued to link to other public sources where they were still available.
The Dutch Court asked the EU Court of Justice to rule whether these links can be seen
as a communication to the public under Article 3(1) of the Copyright Directive of the Copyright Directive, and whether they facilitate copyright infringement.
In his advice today the Advocate General acknowledges that the hyperlinks
facilitate the discovery of the copyrighted works, and make them more easily available. However, this isn't copyright infringement. The EU Court of Justice's writes, commenting on the advice.
lead, even directly, to protected works are not 'making them available' to the public when they are already freely accessible on another website, and only serve to facilitate their discovery,
The Advocate General argues that linking
is not the same as making the content available, which would apply to the original uploader. This means that GeenStijl's actions can not be characterized as copyright infringement:
The actual act of 'making
available' is the action of the person who effected the initial communication. Consequently, hyperlinks which are placed on a website and which link to protected works that are freely accessible on another site cannot be classified as an 'act of
communication' within the meaning of the Directive.
In fact, the intervention of the owner of the site which places the hyperlink, in this case GS Media, is not indispensable to the photos in question being made available to
internet users, including those who visit GeenStijl's website.
The advice is a setup for a landmark ruling. However, the Court stresses that the advice only applies to this particular case.
Technically, most torrent sites
including The Pirate Bay, mostly link to material that's already available elsewhere. However, in these cases the general purpose of the site may also be taken into account.
That said, the advice is good news for news sites, bloggers and the
general public, as incidentally linking to relevant copyrighted material should be allowed in most cases.
The Advocate General's advice is not binding, but the European Court of Justice often uses such advice as the basis of its rulings. The final
verdict is expected to be released later this year.
The heavy metal band Rammstein is well known for challenging magery and lyrics, but now they are challenging German censors who effectively banned general sales of the album L iebe ist für alle da.
Rammstein has filed a lawsuit against
Germany for having temporarily indexed the album. The rock band is seeking 66,000 euros in damages.
In November 2009, the album was indexed by the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien (Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young
Persons) in Germany for the lyrics to the single "Ich tu dir weh," as well as a booklet accompanying the album. The censors claimed that the album was brutalizing and immoral.
Once a work is indexed by the organization, it
may not be advertised and can only be sold under strict conditions. Rammstein claims it had to destroy or store nearly 85,000 copies of the album following this classification. Now the band wants to recover the damages.
However the album did not
remain on the index: The Administrative Court in Cologne removed the album from the list of morally harmful works after half a year, explaining that the classification was unlawful, as it neglected considerations of artistic freedom in its decision.
The legality of Britain's surveillance laws used for the mass snooping of communications come unders the intense scrutiny of 15 European judges on Tuesday in a politically sensitive test case that could limit powers to gather online data.
outcome of the hearing at the European court of justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg is likely to influence the final shape of the government's investigatory powers bill and will test judicial relationships within the EU.
Around a dozen EU states including
the UK have intervened in the challenge against the government's Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (Dripa) that was originally brought by two MPs , the Conservative David Davis and Labour's deputy leader, Tom Watson.
case is being heard in conjunction with a Swedish case based on similar principles.
Berlin Police completed a large scale raid on internet users Wednesday. Police ransacked ten separate apartments. Nine people were arrested and are accused of posting messages critical of migrants, migrant helpers and some anti-semitic slogans on social
networks like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.
The men were not connected by membership of far right groups. Police spokesman Stefan Redlich said that while many of the men shared anti-migrant views, the men do not know each other according to
previous findings, and there was no evidence of any planned conspiracy to commit crime among them. Redlich justified the raids saying they were maybe, people who just once expressed their hate-opinion.
Police announced that the raids
show Germans that they are not as safe online as they might think. They say that anyone who says something xenophobic, spreads hate toward migrants, or shares what they consider to be xenophobic music, may be next on the list of apartments to be raided
in the future.
The Hungarian ruling party wants to ban all working crypto. The parliamentary vice-president from Fidesz has asked parliament to:
Ban communication devices that [law enforcement agencies] are not able to surveil despite
having the legal authority to do so.
Since any working cryptographic system is one that has no known vulnerabilities, whose key length is sufficient to make brute force guessing impractical within the lifespan of the universe, this
amounts to a ban on all file-level encryption and end-to-end communications encryption, as well as most kinds of transport encryption (for example, if your browser makes a SSL connection to a server that the Hungarian government can't subpoena, it would
have no means of surveiling your communication).