25th June     No Comments

NZ National party leader wants book based around his emails published

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NZ National party leader wants book based around his emails published

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Doctor Don Brash, New Zealand National party leader, is seeking legal advice to see if the injunction he has placed on his emails to stop them from being published will still be valid if he lets a new book based around those emails to be released to the public. Dr Brash, however, wants the people who he sent emails and received emails from not named.

“As I’ve said earlier, I want to see the book by Nicky Hager published so that the claims can be exposed to daylight,” Dr Brash said, “On the strength of the initial discussion with Mr Brown [legal counsel], I am confident that there are ways in which the book can be released, even in the next few days. These are being actively explored.

The book in question is by Nicky Hager and has been given the title: The Hollow Men: A Study in the Politics of Deception. It includes emails that were, allegedly, given to him by insiders in the National party, who Mr Hager will not name, it also includes interviews with unhappy people inside the National party. Despite the claims made by Mr Hager, Dr Brash is still adamant that they were stolen from his computer.

The book includes political strategies behind the Orewa speech, the input into Nationals campaign from neo-conservatives in America, industry lobby group influences, donors to National and also the election spending strategy that was thought up by Australian advisers. The accusations that the author, Mr Hager, has made are wild according to Dr Brash.

The injunction that was issued from the High Court stops anyone from broadcasting, publishing or giving the emails to anyone, in any form, which includes the internet.

Michelle Boag, the person who got Dr Brash to enter the National party, said: “Mr Hager has no credibility. The media is giving the author and activist too much attention. He got access to some stolen property, he selectively took bits to try to reinforce it and now people are believing this man who has never in his life published anything that has had any credibility. All the media is doing is help Mr Hager to sell his book in time for Christmas.”

The book has been published by Craig Potton Publishing.

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25th June     No Comments

Macedonia says compromise with Greece over name dispute possible

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Macedonia says compromise with Greece over name dispute possible

Friday, October 9, 2009

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov voiced expectations on Tuesday that the process of resolving the country’s long-standing name dispute with Greece will receive a new impetus, given the new government in Athens. He said that a compromise is possible, if the process continues under the auspices of UN resolutions and talks focus only on the name, and not on the Macedonian identity and language.

Ivanov added that any compromise shouldn’t “be offensive” to either Macedonia or Greece.

“A compromise is possible if the process is under the auspices of the UN resolution and only the name [of Macedonia] is discussed,” said Ivanov, as quoted by the MIA news agency. “A solution which is not insulting either for Macedonia or for Greece is a compromise.”

Greece and the Republic of Macedonia have been at odds over who has the right to the name of Macedonia — which is shared by a province in northern Greece — since 1991, when Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia.

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20th June     No Comments

U.S. President Obama’s farewell address focuses on accomplishment

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U.S. President Obama’s farewell address focuses on accomplishment

Thursday, January 12, 2017

United States President Barack Obama gave his official farewell address on Tuesday night from McCormick Place in Chicago, reflecting on personal and national accomplishments. This is expected to be his last major speech before officially handing the reins to president-elect Donald Trump on January 20.

“Its why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.”

Obama’s speech was wide-ranging. He thanked his family and the nation, spoke of the need for unity, noted the country’s accomplishments and need for improvement in areas like education and civil rights, and spoke about the need for pride in U.S. accomplishments, citing milestones of U.S. history and of his presidency specifically. “It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.”

The president also addressed his country’s troubled history with race and racism, an issue many black citizens feel he has avoided. Despite this, Chauncy Devega of Salon described the president as “a role model of calm, cool reflective black masculinity: a man utterly at home in his own skin.” Obama described the concept of a post-racial U.S. “unrealistic” and particularly cited the need for reform in education and the criminal justice system and greater acceptance of scientific evidence, particularly evidence supporting action to counteract climate change.

However, publications including The Washington Post and Salon have given particular focus to another aspect of the president’s address: the country’s increasing political tensions and controversies involving access to news and information, both accurate and inaccurate. “We become so secure and our bubbles,” said Obama, “that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there,” calling this trend “a third threat to our democracy.”

The Washington Post characterized Obama’s comment, “If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves,” as a “not-so-subtle jab” at the campaign tactics of President-elect Donald Trump. The Telegraph describes Obama’s warnings about the need to protect democracy as “a thinly veiled slight to the divisive rhetoric of Donald Trump’s election campaign, which included attacks on Muslims, the disabled, women and immigrants.” The president went on to call on the public to “reject the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties that make us one America. We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive […] We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt and when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them. It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy.”

Despite this, when the mention of Donald Trump brought boos from the crowd, Obama reiterated the importance of the long history of peaceful transfers of power from one president to the next: “No no no no no. […] I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.” However, this was not unaccompanied by a call to action. Near the end of the speech, he insisted citizens dissatisfied with elected officials should “lace up your shoes, grab a clipboard, get some signatures and run for office yourself.”

Overall, the departing president’s speech focused on accomplishment, echoing the “Yes we can” slogan from his 2008 campaign: “If I have told you eight years ago, that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history. If I had told you, that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9/11[…] If I had told you that we would win a marriage equality and secure the right to health insurance for another twenty million of our fellow citizens. If I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high. But that’s what we did.”

But when the crowd began shouting “Four more years! Four more years!” Obama, with a small laugh, answered, “I can’t do that.”

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20th June     No Comments

U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

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U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The English National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London has threatened on Friday to sue a U.S. citizen, Derrick Coetzee. The legal letter followed claims that he had breached the Gallery’s copyright in several thousand photographs of works of art uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons, a free online media repository.

In a letter from their solicitors sent to Coetzee via electronic mail, the NPG asserted that it holds copyright in the photographs under U.K. law, and demanded that Coetzee provide various undertakings and remove all of the images from the site (referred to in the letter as “the Wikipedia website”).

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of free-to-use media, run by a community of volunteers from around the world, and is a sister project to Wikinews and the encyclopedia Wikipedia. Coetzee, who contributes to the Commons using the account “Dcoetzee”, had uploaded images that are free for public use under United States law, where he and the website are based. However copyright is claimed to exist in the country where the gallery is situated.

The complaint by the NPG is that under UK law, its copyright in the photographs of its portraits is being violated. While the gallery has complained to the Wikimedia Foundation for a number of years, this is the first direct threat of legal action made against an actual uploader of images. In addition to the allegation that Coetzee had violated the NPG’s copyright, they also allege that Coetzee had, by uploading thousands of images in bulk, infringed the NPG’s database right, breached a contract with the NPG; and circumvented a copyright protection mechanism on the NPG’s web site.

The copyright protection mechanism referred to is Zoomify, a product of Zoomify, Inc. of Santa Cruz, California. NPG’s solicitors stated in their letter that “Our client used the Zoomify technology to protect our client’s copyright in the high resolution images.”. Zoomify Inc. states in the Zoomify support documentation that its product is intended to make copying of images “more difficult” by breaking the image into smaller pieces and disabling the option within many web browsers to click and save images, but that they “provide Zoomify as a viewing solution and not an image security system”.

In particular, Zoomify’s website comments that while “many customers — famous museums for example” use Zoomify, in their experience a “general consensus” seems to exist that most museums are concerned with making the images in their galleries accessible to the public, rather than preventing the public from accessing them or making copies; they observe that a desire to prevent high resolution images being distributed would also imply prohibiting the sale of any posters or production of high quality printed material that could be scanned and placed online.

Other actions in the past have come directly from the NPG, rather than via solicitors. For example, several edits have been made directly to the English-language Wikipedia from the IP address 217.207.85.50, one of sixteen such IP addresses assigned to computers at the NPG by its ISP, Easynet.

In the period from August 2005 to July 2006 an individual within the NPG using that IP address acted to remove the use of several Wikimedia Commons pictures from articles in Wikipedia, including removing an image of the Chandos portrait, which the NPG has had in its possession since 1856, from Wikipedia’s biographical article on William Shakespeare.

Other actions included adding notices to the pages for images, and to the text of several articles using those images, such as the following edit to Wikipedia’s article on Catherine of Braganza and to its page for the Wikipedia Commons image of Branwell Brontë‘s portrait of his sisters:

“THIS IMAGE IS BEING USED WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER.”
“This image is copyright material and must not be reproduced in any way without permission of the copyright holder. Under current UK copyright law, there is copyright in skilfully executed photographs of ex-copyright works, such as this painting of Catherine de Braganza.
The original painting belongs to the National Portrait Gallery, London. For copies, and permission to reproduce the image, please contact the Gallery at picturelibrary@npg.org.uk or via our website at www.npg.org.uk”

Other, later, edits, made on the day that NPG’s solicitors contacted Coetzee and drawn to the NPG’s attention by Wikinews, are currently the subject of an internal investigation within the NPG.

Coetzee published the contents of the letter on Saturday July 11, the letter itself being dated the previous day. It had been sent electronically to an email address associated with his Wikimedia Commons user account. The NPG’s solicitors had mailed the letter from an account in the name “Amisquitta”. This account was blocked shortly after by a user with access to the user blocking tool, citing a long standing Wikipedia policy that the making of legal threats and creation of a hostile environment is generally inconsistent with editing access and is an inappropriate means of resolving user disputes.

The policy, initially created on Commons’ sister website in June 2004, is also intended to protect all parties involved in a legal dispute, by ensuring that their legal communications go through proper channels, and not through a wiki that is open to editing by other members of the public. It was originally formulated primarily to address legal action for libel. In October 2004 it was noted that there was “no consensus” whether legal threats related to copyright infringement would be covered but by the end of 2006 the policy had reached a consensus that such threats (as opposed to polite complaints) were not compatible with editing access while a legal matter was unresolved. Commons’ own website states that “[accounts] used primarily to create a hostile environment for another user may be blocked”.

In a further response, Gregory Maxwell, a volunteer administrator on Wikimedia Commons, made a formal request to the editorial community that Coetzee’s access to administrator tools on Commons should be revoked due to the prevailing circumstances. Maxwell noted that Coetzee “[did] not have the technically ability to permanently delete images”, but stated that Coetzee’s potential legal situation created a conflict of interest.

Sixteen minutes after Maxwell’s request, Coetzee’s “administrator” privileges were removed by a user in response to the request. Coetzee retains “administrator” privileges on the English-language Wikipedia, since none of the images exist on Wikipedia’s own website and therefore no conflict of interest exists on that site.

Legally, the central issue upon which the case depends is that copyright laws vary between countries. Under United States case law, where both the website and Coetzee are located, a photograph of a non-copyrighted two-dimensional picture (such as a very old portrait) is not capable of being copyrighted, and it may be freely distributed and used by anyone. Under UK law that point has not yet been decided, and the Gallery’s solicitors state that such photographs could potentially be subject to copyright in that country.

One major legal point upon which a case would hinge, should the NPG proceed to court, is a question of originality. The U.K.’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines in ¶ 1(a) that copyright is a right that subsists in “original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works” (emphasis added). The legal concept of originality here involves the simple origination of a work from an author, and does not include the notions of novelty or innovation that is often associated with the non-legal meaning of the word.

Whether an exact photographic reproduction of a work is an original work will be a point at issue. The NPG asserts that an exact photographic reproduction of a copyrighted work in another medium constitutes an original work, and this would be the basis for its action against Coetzee. This view has some support in U.K. case law. The decision of Walter v Lane held that exact transcriptions of speeches by journalists, in shorthand on reporter’s notepads, were original works, and thus copyrightable in themselves. The opinion by Hugh Laddie, Justice Laddie, in his book The Modern Law of Copyright, points out that photographs lie on a continuum, and that photographs can be simple copies, derivative works, or original works:

“[…] it is submitted that a person who makes a photograph merely by placing a drawing or painting on the glass of a photocopying machine and pressing the button gets no copyright at all; but he might get a copyright if he employed skill and labour in assembling the thing to be photocopied, as where he made a montage.”

Various aspects of this continuum have already been explored in the courts. Justice Neuberger, in the decision at Antiquesportfolio.com v Rodney Fitch & Co. held that a photograph of a three-dimensional object would be copyrightable if some exercise of judgement of the photographer in matters of angle, lighting, film speed, and focus were involved. That exercise would create an original work. Justice Oliver similarly held, in Interlego v Tyco Industries, that “[i]t takes great skill, judgement and labour to produce a good copy by painting or to produce an enlarged photograph from a positive print, but no-one would reasonably contend that the copy, painting, or enlargement was an ‘original’ artistic work in which the copier is entitled to claim copyright. Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”.

In 2000 the Museums Copyright Group, a copyright lobbying group, commissioned a report and legal opinion on the implications of the Bridgeman case for the UK, which stated:

“Revenue raised from reproduction fees and licensing is vital to museums to support their primary educational and curatorial objectives. Museums also rely on copyright in photographs of works of art to protect their collections from inaccurate reproduction and captioning… as a matter of principle, a photograph of an artistic work can qualify for copyright protection in English law”. The report concluded by advocating that “museums must continue to lobby” to protect their interests, to prevent inferior quality images of their collections being distributed, and “not least to protect a vital source of income”.

Several people and organizations in the U.K. have been awaiting a test case that directly addresses the issue of copyrightability of exact photographic reproductions of works in other media. The commonly cited legal case Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. found that there is no originality where the aim and the result is a faithful and exact reproduction of the original work. The case was heard twice in New York, once applying UK law and once applying US law. It cited the prior UK case of Interlego v Tyco Industries (1988) in which Lord Oliver stated that “Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”

“What is important about a drawing is what is visually significant and the re-drawing of an existing drawing […] does not make it an original artistic work, however much labour and skill may have gone into the process of reproduction […]”

The Interlego judgement had itself drawn upon another UK case two years earlier, Coca-Cola Go’s Applications, in which the House of Lords drew attention to the “undesirability” of plaintiffs seeking to expand intellectual property law beyond the purpose of its creation in order to create an “undeserving monopoly”. It commented on this, that “To accord an independent artistic copyright to every such reproduction would be to enable the period of artistic copyright in what is, essentially, the same work to be extended indefinitely… ”

The Bridgeman case concluded that whether under UK or US law, such reproductions of copyright-expired material were not capable of being copyrighted.

The unsuccessful plaintiff, Bridgeman Art Library, stated in 2006 in written evidence to the House of Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport that it was “looking for a similar test case in the U.K. or Europe to fight which would strengthen our position”.

The National Portrait Gallery is a non-departmental public body based in London England and sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Founded in 1856, it houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. The gallery contains more than 11,000 portraits and 7,000 light-sensitive works in its Primary Collection, 320,000 in the Reference Collection, over 200,000 pictures and negatives in the Photographs Collection and a library of around 35,000 books and manuscripts. (More on the National Portrait Gallery here)

The gallery’s solicitors are Farrer & Co LLP, of London. Farrer’s clients have notably included the British Royal Family, in a case related to extracts from letters sent by Diana, Princess of Wales which were published in a book by ex-butler Paul Burrell. (In that case, the claim was deemed unlikely to succeed, as the extracts were not likely to be in breach of copyright law.)

Farrer & Co have close ties with industry interest groups related to copyright law. Peter Wienand, Head of Intellectual Property at Farrer & Co., is a member of the Executive body of the Museums Copyright Group, which is chaired by Tom Morgan, Head of Rights and Reproductions at the National Portrait Gallery. The Museums Copyright Group acts as a lobbying organization for “the interests and activities of museums and galleries in the area of [intellectual property rights]”, which reacted strongly against the Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. case.

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of images, media, and other material free for use by anyone in the world. It is operated by a community of 21,000 active volunteers, with specialist rights such as deletion and blocking restricted to around 270 experienced users in the community (known as “administrators”) who are trusted by the community to use them to enact the wishes and policies of the community. Commons is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a charitable body whose mission is to make available free knowledge and historic and other material which is legally distributable under US law. (More on Commons here)

The legal threat also sparked discussions of moral issues and issues of public policy in several Internet discussion fora, including Slashdot, over the weekend. One major public policy issue relates to how the public domain should be preserved.

Some of the public policy debate over the weekend has echoed earlier opinions presented by Kenneth Hamma, the executive director for Digital Policy at the J. Paul Getty Trust. Writing in D-Lib Magazine in November 2005, Hamma observed:

“Art museums and many other collecting institutions in this country hold a trove of public-domain works of art. These are works whose age precludes continued protection under copyright law. The works are the result of and evidence for human creativity over thousands of years, an activity museums celebrate by their very existence. For reasons that seem too frequently unexamined, many museums erect barriers that contribute to keeping quality images of public domain works out of the hands of the general public, of educators, and of the general milieu of creativity. In restricting access, art museums effectively take a stand against the creativity they otherwise celebrate. This conflict arises as a result of the widely accepted practice of asserting rights in the images that the museums make of the public domain works of art in their collections.”

He also stated:

“This resistance to free and unfettered access may well result from a seemingly well-grounded concern: many museums assume that an important part of their core business is the acquisition and management of rights in art works to maximum return on investment. That might be true in the case of the recording industry, but it should not be true for nonprofit institutions holding public domain art works; it is not even their secondary business. Indeed, restricting access seems all the more inappropriate when measured against a museum’s mission — a responsibility to provide public access. Their charitable, financial, and tax-exempt status demands such. The assertion of rights in public domain works of art — images that at their best closely replicate the values of the original work — differs in almost every way from the rights managed by the recording industry. Because museums and other similar collecting institutions are part of the private nonprofit sector, the obligation to treat assets as held in public trust should replace the for-profit goal. To do otherwise, undermines the very nature of what such institutions were created to do.”

Hamma observed in 2005 that “[w]hile examples of museums chasing down digital image miscreants are rare to non-existent, the expectation that museums might do so has had a stultifying effect on the development of digital image libraries for teaching and research.”

The NPG, which has been taking action with respect to these images since at least 2005, is a public body. It was established by Act of Parliament, the current Act being the Museums and Galleries Act 1992. In that Act, the NPG Board of Trustees is charged with maintaining “a collection of portraits of the most eminent persons in British history, of other works of art relevant to portraiture and of documents relating to those portraits and other works of art”. It also has the tasks of “secur[ing] that the portraits are exhibited to the public” and “generally promot[ing] the public’s enjoyment and understanding of portraiture of British persons and British history through portraiture both by means of the Board’s collection and by such other means as they consider appropriate”.

Several commentators have questioned how the NPG’s statutory goals align with its threat of legal action. Mike Masnick, founder of Techdirt, asked “The people who run the Gallery should be ashamed of themselves. They ought to go back and read their own mission statement[. …] How, exactly, does suing someone for getting those portraits more attention achieve that goal?” (external link Masnick’s). L. Sutherland of Bigmouthmedia asked “As the paintings of the NPG technically belong to the nation, does that mean that they should also belong to anyone that has access to a computer?”

Other public policy debates that have been sparked have included the applicability of U.K. courts, and U.K. law, to the actions of a U.S. citizen, residing in the U.S., uploading files to servers hosted in the U.S.. Two major schools of thought have emerged. Both see the issue as encroachment of one legal system upon another. But they differ as to which system is encroaching. One view is that the free culture movement is attempting to impose the values and laws of the U.S. legal system, including its case law such as Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., upon the rest of the world. Another view is that a U.K. institution is attempting to control, through legal action, the actions of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.

David Gerard, former Press Officer for Wikimedia UK, the U.K. chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, which has been involved with the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest to create free content photographs of exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum, stated on Slashdot that “The NPG actually acknowledges in their letter that the poster’s actions were entirely legal in America, and that they’re making a threat just because they think they can. The Wikimedia community and the WMF are absolutely on the side of these public domain images remaining in the public domain. The NPG will be getting radioactive publicity from this. Imagine the NPG being known to American tourists as somewhere that sues Americans just because it thinks it can.”

Benjamin Crowell, a physics teacher at Fullerton College in California, stated that he had received a letter from the Copyright Officer at the NPG in 2004, with respect to the picture of the portrait of Isaac Newton used in his physics textbooks, that he publishes in the U.S. under a free content copyright licence, to which he had replied with a pointer to Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp..

The Wikimedia Foundation takes a similar stance. Erik Möller, the Deputy Director of the US-based Wikimedia Foundation wrote in 2008 that “we’ve consistently held that faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works which are nothing more than reproductions should be considered public domain for licensing purposes”.

Contacted over the weekend, the NPG issued a statement to Wikinews:

“The National Portrait Gallery is very strongly committed to giving access to its Collection. In the past five years the Gallery has spent around £1 million digitising its Collection to make it widely available for study and enjoyment. We have so far made available on our website more than 60,000 digital images, which have attracted millions of users, and we believe this extensive programme is of great public benefit.
“The Gallery supports Wikipedia in its aim of making knowledge widely available and we would be happy for the site to use our low-resolution images, sufficient for most forms of public access, subject to safeguards. However, in March 2009 over 3000 high-resolution files were appropriated from the National Portrait Gallery website and published on Wikipedia without permission.
“The Gallery is very concerned that potential loss of licensing income from the high-resolution files threatens its ability to reinvest in its digitisation programme and so make further images available. It is one of the Gallery’s primary purposes to make as much of the Collection available as possible for the public to view.
“Digitisation involves huge costs including research, cataloguing, conservation and highly-skilled photography. Images then need to be made available on the Gallery website as part of a structured and authoritative database. To date, Wikipedia has not responded to our requests to discuss the issue and so the National Portrait Gallery has been obliged to issue a lawyer’s letter. The Gallery remains willing to enter into a dialogue with Wikipedia.

In fact, Matthew Bailey, the Gallery’s (then) Assistant Picture Library Manager, had already once been in a similar dialogue. Ryan Kaldari, an amateur photographer from Nashville, Tennessee, who also volunteers at the Wikimedia Commons, states that he was in correspondence with Bailey in October 2006. In that correspondence, according to Kaldari, he and Bailey failed to conclude any arrangement.

Jay Walsh, the Head of Communications for the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the Commons, called the gallery’s actions “unfortunate” in the Foundation’s statement, issued on Tuesday July 14:

“The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. To that end, we have very productive working relationships with a number of galleries, archives, museums and libraries around the world, who join with us to make their educational materials available to the public.
“The Wikimedia Foundation does not control user behavior, nor have we reviewed every action taken by that user. Nonetheless, it is our general understanding that the user in question has behaved in accordance with our mission, with the general goal of making public domain materials available via our Wikimedia Commons project, and in accordance with applicable law.”

The Foundation added in its statement that as far as it was aware, the NPG had not attempted “constructive dialogue”, and that the volunteer community was presently discussing the matter independently.

In part, the lack of past agreement may have been because of a misunderstanding by the National Portrait Gallery of Commons and Wikipedia’s free content mandate; and of the differences between Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia Commons, and the individual volunteer workers who participate on the various projects supported by the Foundation.

Like Coetzee, Ryan Kaldari is a volunteer worker who does not represent Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Commons. (Such representation is impossible. Both Wikipedia and the Commons are endeavours supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, and not organizations in themselves.) Nor, again like Coetzee, does he represent the Wikimedia Foundation.

Kaldari states that he explained the free content mandate to Bailey. Bailey had, according to copies of his messages provided by Kaldari, offered content to Wikipedia (naming as an example the photograph of John Opie‘s 1797 portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, whose copyright term has since expired) but on condition that it not be free content, but would be subject to restrictions on its distribution that would have made it impossible to use by any of the many organizations that make use of Wikipedia articles and the Commons repository, in the way that their site-wide “usable by anyone” licences ensures.

The proposed restrictions would have also made it impossible to host the images on Wikimedia Commons. The image of the National Portrait Gallery in this article, above, is one such free content image; it was provided and uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence, and is thus able to be used and republished not only on Wikipedia but also on Wikinews, on other Wikimedia Foundation projects, as well as by anyone in the world, subject to the terms of the GFDL, a license that guarantees attribution is provided to the creators of the image.

As Commons has grown, many other organizations have come to different arrangements with volunteers who work at the Wikimedia Commons and at Wikipedia. For example, in February 2009, fifteen international museums including the Brooklyn Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum established a month-long competition where users were invited to visit in small teams and take high quality photographs of their non-copyright paintings and other exhibits, for upload to Wikimedia Commons and similar websites (with restrictions as to equipment, required in order to conserve the exhibits), as part of the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest.

Approached for comment by Wikinews, Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, said “It’s pretty clear that these images themselves should be in the public domain. There is a clear public interest in making sure paintings and other works are usable by anyone once their term of copyright expires. This is what US courts have recognised, whatever the situation in UK law.”

The Digital Britain report, issued by the U.K.’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport in June 2009, stated that “Public cultural institutions like Tate, the Royal Opera House, the RSC, the Film Council and many other museums, libraries, archives and galleries around the country now reach a wider public online.” Culture minster Ben Bradshaw was also approached by Wikinews for comment on the public policy issues surrounding the on-line availability of works in the public domain held in galleries, re-raised by the NPG’s threat of legal action, but had not responded by publication time.

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14th June     No Comments

Maria Contreras-Sweet Group buys The Weinstein Company assets, saves it from bankruptcy

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Maria Contreras-Sweet Group buys The Weinstein Company assets, saves it from bankruptcy

Sunday, March 4, 2018

On Thursday in a meeting at New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, Maria Contreras-Sweet Group, billionaire Ron Burkle, and a number of other investors acquired assets of The Weinstein Company for reportedly about US$500 million. The Weinstein Company had financial difficulties and was nearly bankrupt after Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women last year, which impacted the business budget.

At least two of The Weinstein Company board of directors — consisting of Tarak Ben Ammar, Lance Maerov and Bob Weinstein — participated in the meeting, according to The New York Times. Maria Contreras-Sweet Group was represented by Maria Contreras-Sweet and Ron Burkle. The New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman was also in the meeting.

Maria Contreras-Sweet Group agreed to pay The Weinstein Company’s debt, sized at US$225 million, reports indicated. The acquisition would save around 150 jobs held at the Weinstein Company. Maria Contreras-Sweet Group announced the deal, also confirmed by The Weinstein Company. The deal was expected to take about 40 days to be completed.

The agreement required Maria Contreras-Sweet Group to protect the jobs of company employees, and establish a victim compensation fund which would compensate victims of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct while not rewarding the “bad actors”, as Schneiderman put it — people who had contributed to the sexual misconduct. The victim compensation fund would allegedly be around US$90 million, according to reports.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against The Weinstein Company in early February of this year. He reportly indicated he might settle the lawsuit after the deal is finalized.

Maria Contreras-Sweet Group said they would use the assets in creating a new movie studio with a majority-female leadership.

The Weinstein Company said on Monday, three days before the deal announcement, it intended to file for bankruptcy as it could not find a buyer that would keep it afloat until the deal would be finalized.

The Weinstein Company was founded in 2005.

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12th June     No Comments

South Africa sets deadline in land transfer scheme

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South Africa sets deadline in land transfer scheme

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The South African government has set a six-month deadline for some white farmers to agree on sale prices for their farms. The government will be requiring them to sell the farms as part of its land redistribution programme.

Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana said that if no agreement in reached in 6 months, the government could expropriate farmlands. Stating that negotiations have been too slow, in some cases taking many years, Xingwana said that some farm owners were seeking “unrealistic prices”. Land owners claim they are not offered market value for their property.

The government has identified about 350 farms for which, if no deal is reached, the government will force a mandatory sale at current market prices identified by the government.

Officials said that expropriation is only a measure of last-resort and that farmers can appeal the decision in court.

The land reform programme aims to hand back land or give financial compensation to black South Africans who were forcibly removed from their ancestral homes and lands under apartheid rule. The programme was a key promise made by the African National Congress (ANC) as it came to power in 1994 and remains an emotive and politically charged issue.

Currently, about 4% of South Africa’s farm land is owned by blacks, who number 42 million out of the nation’s 47 million population. President Thabo Mbeki‘s government has set a target of transferring 30% of land to blacks by 2014. About 89% of the nearly 80,000 claims have been settled so far, and the government has spent some R2.5bn ($368m) purchasing farms from white owners. The National Land Claims Commission is entrusted with carrying out the transfers.

The reform programme had so far followed a “willing-buyer willing-seller” principle. The process had to contend with land owners challenging the validity of some claims, negotiating sale prices with current owners, and settling competing claims over the same piece of land—sometimes by tracing family trees of claimants when other documents supporting the claim did not exist.

Xingwana called on established farmers to form partnerships with new landowners and to transfer skills to new farmers, to ensure productive use of transferred lands. One criticism of the programme is that some of the transferred farms have fallen in production due to the inexperience and lack of capital among the new owners.

The government has rejected comparisons of the programme with that initiated in Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe.

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10th June     No Comments

Norway wins the Eurovision Song Contest 2009

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Norway wins the Eurovision Song Contest 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Norway has won the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, held Saturday evening in Moscow, Russia, by the largest margin in the Contest’s history. Alexander Rybak‘s song “Fairytale” received 387 points, 169 points more than the second place entrant, Yohanna, who represented Iceland with the song “Is It True?

Rybak, 23, was the runaway winner from the beginning of the voting, and was the odds-on favorite with British bookies. The other bookie favorites, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Greece, all found places in the Top 10, placing fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively. It was the first Top 10 showing for the United Kingdom in seven years.

Other notable scores included Estonia, who finished in sixth place after qualifying for the final for the first time ever since the pre-qualifying round was introduced five years ago, and France, who placed eighth for their first Top 10 finish since 2002. Spanish singer Soraya Arnelas placed joint twenty-third after a difficult week, which included public outcry against her and her national broadcaster.

Russians hoping to repeat a victory on home turf were disappointed as Anastasiya Prikhodko‘s song “Mamo” placed eleventh. Israel’s song “There Must Be Another Way,” sung by a Jewish-Arab duo, marking the first time an Arab performer represented Israel in any capacity, placed sixteenth. Germany, despite having lots of publicity before the event for signing on burlesque performer Dita von Teese to appear on-stage with their entrants, Alex Swings Oscar Sings!, placed twentieth, the third year in a row Germany placed in the bottom quartile.

For the first time in 29 years, Sir Terry Wogan did not provide a commentary on the UK’s broadcast, Irish comedian Graham Norton replaced Sir Terry, who has complained that “it was no longer a music contest.”

According to Norton, the event was blemished by the Russian policing of it, and he commented on-air that “heavy-handed policing has really marred what has been a fantastic Eurovision.”

This is Norway’s third Eurovision win. They previously won in 1985 and 1995. As winners, Norway and its national broadcaster, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), will host the event next May.

Here are the results of the finale night.

Draw Country Artist Song Place Points
01 Lithuania Sasha Son Love 23 23
02 Israel Noa and Mira Awad There Must Be Another Way 16 53
03 France Patricia Kaas Et s’il fallait le faire 8 107
04 Sweden Malena Ernman La voix 21 33
05 Croatia Igor Cukrov feat. Andrea Lijepa Tena 18 45
06 Portugal Flor-de-Lis Todas as ruas do amor 15 57
07 Iceland Yohanna Is It True? 2 218
08 Greece Sakis Rouvas This Is Our Night 7 120
09 Armenia Inga and Anush Jan Jan 10 92
10 Russia Anastasiya Prikhodko Mamo 11 91
11 Azerbaijan AySel and Arash Always 3 207
12 Bosnia and Herzegovina Regina Bistra voda 9 106
13 Moldova Nelly Ciobanu Hora din Moldova 14 68
14 Malta Chiara What If We 22 31
15 Estonia Urban Symphony Rändajad 6 129
16 Denmark Brinck Believe Again 13 74
17 Germany Alex Swings Oscar Sings! Miss Kiss Kiss Bang 20 35
18 Turkey Hadise Düm Tek Tek 4 177
19 Albania Kejsi Tola Carry Me in Your Dreams 17 48
20 Norway Alexander Rybak Fairytale 1 387
21 Ukraine Svetlana Loboda Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl) 12 76
22 Romania Elena The Balkan Girls 19 40
23 United Kingdom Jade Ewen It’s My Time 5 173
24 Finland Waldo’s People Lose Control 25 22
25 Spain Soraya Arnelas La noche es para mí 23 23

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7th June     No Comments

US undergraduate commits suicide after ‘outing’ via webcast

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US undergraduate commits suicide after ‘outing’ via webcast

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tyler Clementi, eighteen, a freshman at Rutgers University in the United States, jumped off the George Washington Bridge last Wednesday after roommates broadcast his same-sex encounters online.

Clementi shared a room with Dhraun Ravi, in Davidson Hall on Rutgers’ Piscataway campus.

On September 19, Dhraun Ravi is alleged to have secretly activated a webcam in their room, then retreated down the hall to the room of his childhood friend, Molly Wei, where they used Skype to connect to the live video feed of Clementi having sex. Ravi tweeted, “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my Web cam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay”.

Clementi reported the incident to the university, and that information has been passed to the authorities, according to Gregory Blimling, university vice president for student affairs.

Ravi attempted to repeat his actions on the following Wednesday, after seeing his roommate kissing a teenaged boy. Writing on Facebook he said, “Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes, it’s happening again.”

The following Wednesday, at around 4 p.m., fellow freshman Lauren Garcia saw Clementi leaving the dormitory. “He had his iPod in his ear, and just had this blank stare on his face,”, she said. Clementi drove one hour along the New Jersey Turnpike, abandoning his car on the Jersey side. Writing a final message on his own Facebook page saying, “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry”, he left a wallet containing his driver’s licence and Rutgers ID card, and his mobile phone on the roadside. According to witnesses, he scaled the railings, crouched down, and jumped at approximately 8:50 p.m— about eight minutes after his Facebook posting. Those details were relayed to press anonymously by a law enforcement official.

One of the anonymous witnesses, a 45-year-old from West New York, said “It was so quick, as soon as he saw us, he went. He didn’t give us an opportunity to do anything.”

New York Police Department’s Harbour Unit recovered a body of a young man yesterday, in the Hudson River to the North of the bridge, but it has not yet been positively identified.

Ravi and Wei, both eighteen, were charged with invasion of privacy. Wei voluntarily surrendered to police Monday, and was released on her own recognizance; Ravi surrendered the following day, and has been released on $25,000 bail. All three students started their courses in August.

The crime of “transmitting sexual images” is a 3rd degree felony, carrying a maximum prison sentence of five years.

Clementi, from Ridgewood, New Jersey, played the violin, and was a member of the Ridgewood High School chamber orchestra. A student from the same hall described him as quiet and shy. His parents were apparently unaware of his sexuality; Robert Righthand, a friend of Clementi since grade school, said “he had it in reserve for a very long time […] You never thought he was depressed. You just thought he was quiet. He wasn’t the person to open up to a lot of people.”

A gathering of around 100 people held a vigil on Wednesday, chanting slogans such as “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re not going home.”

The Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays organization announced a “call to action” today. Stephen Goldstein, of LGBT advocacy organization Garden State Equality, said, “[Clementi,] by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind […] we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible […] might consider destroying others’ lives as a sport.”

On Wednesday prior to the incident, the university launched “Project Civility”, a two-year campaign encouraging students to be thougtful of others. The University president, Richard McCormick, issued a letter stating that “If the charges are true, these actions gravely violate the university’s standards of decency and humanity.”

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3rd June     No Comments

Category:Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse affair

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Category:Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse affair
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Pages in category “Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse affair”

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2nd June     No Comments

AT&T sued over NSA eavesdropping

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AT&T sued over NSA eavesdropping

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

A class action suit has been filed on Tuesday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) against the telecom giant AT&T. The suit, filed in San Francisco, alleges that AT&T violated federal laws by collaborating with government to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens.

The Bush Administration and NSA have come under fire over the issue. They defend the program by saying they are only listening in on suspected terrorists.

The EFF claims that AT&T turned over 2 databases consisting of their subscribers’ communication and internet usage records.

Attorney Kevin Bankston representing the EFF said the government could not conduct their surveillance without the help of companies like AT&T. He also said their goal is to tell AT&T that it is not in their fiscal best interests, along with not being legal, to cooperate with the President’s wiretap program.

According to the class action suit, AT&T granted “access to all or a substantial number of the communications transmitted through its key domestic telecommunications facilities, including direct access to streams of domestic, international and foreign telephone and Internet communications.” The lawsuit is seeking damages of $22,000 for each AT&T customer in addition to punitive fines.

AT&T is also facing scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission and possibly fines for failing to properly certify that customer records were safeguarded.

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