Monthly Archives: July 2019

Comment: Clear copyright rules needed to take on Google Books: report

By Laura Hood, The Conversation

The headaches involved in setting up digital archives could be holding back cultural organisations from making thousands of historical documents, books and films available to the general public, a report to be launched today by the Intellectual Property Office suggests.

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This is in part due to the lack of legislation on how to handle orphan works — documents that are still subject to copyright but for which no owner can be found. As much as 20% of the 1 million books held by the Natural History Museum in London are orphans, as are between 20% and 25% of the near 8 million documents held at the Imperial War Museum. Under the current system, publishing these works online represents a copyright infringement, even though the owner of the copyright cannot be found to make a claim.

CREATe, a Research Councils UK project at the universities of Glasgow and Bournemouth, has advised the UK government on how to tackle the issue by looking to other countries’ legislation. But after approaching agencies in Denmark, Japan and India, CREATe researchers found a baffling variety of approaches and prices.

“There are potentially hundreds of thousands of memory collections which really should, in the digital age, be made available online,” Professor Martin Kretschmer, director of CREATe said. “Empirically, if you look at the schemes for licensing orphan works that have been tried, they haven’t delivered in any of the seven countries we investigated. One has to learn from the models that haven’t worked.”

The UK should therefore seek to produce a coherent system for orphans and could help digital book projects in particular by opting for long-term licensing arrangements.

The prohibitive costs of getting a licence where one is available also holding cultural organisations back. In Canada, where the system for awarding licences for using orphan works is more advanced than in other areas, CREATe found that the cost of digitising books on a large scale for non-commercial use come in at around 9p per page. While this may not seem like a lot for individual works, huge price tags would be likely for larger projects. “If you end up with a fee of £1 million per year, then parties able to take the risk reduces to a handful of organisations,” Kretschmer warned.

And one of those organisations could be Google, which has for some years been attempting to digitise every book ever published through its Google Books project. The company has been able to take advantage of the more favourable system that operates in the US to scan an estimated 30 million books. While many of these are out of copyright, it has leant on the “fair use” clause to scan orphans and even copyrighted material. The project has been stalled as a result of legal action from authors who found that Google had scanned their copyrighted material without consent, but Google has shown little sign of giving up. Concern remains that the firm could end up monopolising the rights to many works. Public organisations in Europe face pressure to get their houses in order before it’s too late.

The UK government has attempted to legislate to solve the problem several times over the years. The 2011 Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth described the lack of regulation on orphans as the “starkest failure of the copyright framework to adapt” and warned that without tackling the problem, non-digital archives could be lost forever.

The government is due to set up an authority to deal specifically with orphan works in the near future but is yet to announce a clear approach to licensing.

Israel press bemoans price of talks resumption

“The murderers will go free,” was the top-selling daily Yediot Aharonot’s front-page headline after the cabinet agreed to release the veteran Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners, many of them convicted militants.

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In a tense session lasting more than five hours, ministers on Sunday endorsed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to release the 104 prisoners imprisoned before the 1993 Oslo peace accords as a gesture to the Palestinians.

Media reports say that many of them have Israeli blood on their hands and that while the vast majority are Palestinians, a few are Israeli citizens.

The names of those to be freed have yet to be officially published, or even revealed to cabinet ministers, but Israeli and Palestinian groups have published their own lists of those in prison for more than 20 years.

They include petrol bombers whose attacks on buses killed Israeli women and children, perpetrators of fatal stabbings on city streets and the makers of bombs planted on buses and in the main Jerusalem produce market.

Yediot columnist Nahum Barnea compared the release to the October 2010 exchange of 1,027 prisoners for the freedom of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

“The early release of terrorists is disturbing to any decent person,” he wrote.

“The images of remorseless murderers celebrating on the way to the bus are a humiliating, agonising, infuriating sight.

“The Palestinians did not give anything this time, except the willingness to hold talks on holding talks. It does not take much imagination to guess what Netanyahu would have said about this, had someone else been prime minister,” Barnea added.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were to meet in Washington later on Monday, along with US officials, after months of dogged shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State John Kerry secured a resumption of talks after a three-year hiatus.

“Here we go again,” the Jerusalem Post headlined over an analysis by its diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon.

“These murderers will be hailed as heroes in Hebron and Ramallah and Jenin,” he wrote.

“Parades will be held in their honour, flowers thrown at the bus carrying them home, poems written about their ‘glorious’ exploits.

“If the Palestinians are indeed serious about the upcoming round of talks, they need to make that apparent to the Israeli public,” he added.

“One way to do this is not to celebrate the release of terrorists who threw petrol bombs into buses and incinerated innocent men, women and children.”

Maariv analyst Shalom Yerushalmi shared the general media sense of outrage.

“As always, the government has chosen the worst option,” he wrote.

“Prior to going to the negotiations in Washington, the Israeli government made a decision to free terrorists who have committed terrible crimes against innocent civilians, many of whom were teenagers and children.

“This tears at the heart of each one of us, regardless of political views.”

The left-leaning Haaretz daily grudgingly welcomed the cabinet decision.

“The Israeli government bumped into reality on Sunday,” diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid wrote.

“Like a drunk driver heading for a wall at full speed only to get a grip on himself at the last moment and hit the brakes, most government ministers came to their senses and voted in favour of releasing prisoners in order to enable the renewal of talks with the Palestinians.”

Prince Harry ‘choked up’ over Jubilee trip

Prince Harry has described his Diamond Jubilee tour as an ’emotional trip’ that’s opened his eyes to how fondly Commonwealth nations regard the Queen.

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Harry said he was “choked up” by the way the countries he visited – Belize, the Bahamas and Jamaica – were celebrating the monarch’s 60-year reign.

The 27-year-old Prince revealed he had set off for the seven-day tour with a ringing endorsement from his grandmother who told him “enjoy it, I hope you do me proud”.

Speaking after a polo match in aid of his charity Sentebale staged in Brazil, which the royal has been visiting to promote Britain, the Prince said: “I tell you what, it’s been an emotional trip.

“I’m absolutely exhausted but the warmth of the reception that we’ve received from every single country that we’ve been to has been amazing.

“I personally had no idea how much warmth there was towards the Queen, to me that’s been very humbling, and I was actually quite choked up seeing the way that they’re celebrating her 60 years.

“She’s thousands of miles away to some of these countries and yet they celebrated her in the way they did, and made me feel so welcome, so I couldn’t thank them more.”

Harry has remained true to himself throughout the tour, bringing his sense of humour and fun to engagements and proving himself to be an adept public speaker.

In Belize the royal enjoyed a Diamond Jubilee street party and was swept up by the genuinely warm welcome from the locals that saw him dancing with performers, tasting local food and even downing shots of rum.

The Bahamas gave the royal the chance to formally honour the Queen with the rest of the Commonwealth country at a national service of thanksgiving for the monarch.

Harry also charmed Jamaica’s staunchly republican prime minister Portia Simpson Miller, who plans to end centuries of formal ties with the British monarchy and replace the Queen as head of state with a Jamaican.

Asked if he has had any messages from the monarch, Harry replied: “I haven’t had a chance to speak to her on the trip, but I had a half-hour conversation with her before we came out where she wished me luck.

“We had a great chat, she said `enjoy it, I hope you do me proud’, it was a typical grandmother to grandson chat.”

Chiefs pip Brumbies in title thriller

The Brumbies have fallen agonisingly short of the Super Rugby title after defending champions the Chiefs clawed back a late ten-point deficit to win the final 27-22 in Hamilton.

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It was the championship fight all hoped for at a sellout Waikato Stadium, the Brumbies’ territorial-based gameplan only just coming unstuck by a Chiefs side willing to run the ball from everywhere.

While many will attribute the Brumbies’ late fade to a gruelling four week-travel schedule in the lead up to the match, coach Jake White put it down to inexperience.

“With 20 minutes to go, I thought we had the game, not sewn up, but the pressure was (building),” White said.

“Obviously you’re a bit heart sore and you feel like you could have won that. But you’ve got to be proud.”

The Chiefs were 10 points down and needing to score twice when blindside flanker Liam Messam stormed over from a five-metre scrum to make it a five point ball game heading into the last 15 minutes.

The Brumbies then surrendered the lead they’d held for the entire match when replacement Robbie Robinson scored to give his side a two point buffer in the 67th minute.

Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said it was a few errors late in the game that swung momentum against his side.

“Instead of putting kicks in the spots we would have put them, or taking high balls, we dropped them,” he said.

“Next thing you know you’re defending pick and go under your posts.”

Ireland-bound Chiefs captain Craig Clarke said it was a relief to win in his last game for the Hamilton-based side.

“That’s an awesome Brumbies team who have a huge amount of heart and put us under pressure,” he said.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie was almost left wondering what could have been following his decision to use flyhalf Aaron Cruden as goal-kicker ahead of renowned sharpshooter Gareth Anscombe.

While Brumbies kicker Christian Lealiifano had an unblemished night with five penalties, a conversion and a try for all 22 of his side’s points, Cruden missed three very kickable shots.

“A bit hit and miss, but I was just stoked to see the last couple go through,” Cruden said.

Another magnificent performance at the breakdown from Brumbies flanker George Smith wasn’t enough to earn him the fairytale send-off from Australian rugby he desperately wanted.

“He’s phenomenal. Everyone is talking about his performance,” White said.

“He epitomises everything we’re trying to get to at the Brumbies.”

The Brumbies stormed out of the blocks with three early penalty goals to lead by nine points after repelling several waves of attack.

But the defending champions bounced back, Cruden recovering from a shanked first penalty attempt to land his next three and level the scores.

“They disrupted and stole a lot of our ball and it took us a while to work out a strategy to sort that out,” Rennie said.

After several close intercept attempts, Lealiifano showed great handling skills to thieve a long pass from Chiefs halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow to race away for the opening try to give his side a seven point lead into the break.

The situation became more dire for the Chiefs on the other side of halftime when Smith isolated Barlow to earn another three points and a 19-9 lead.

But the Chiefs managed to overturn the deficit late to become the fourth team to win consecutive Super Rugby titles.

Mladic appears in the Hague

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic went on trial Wednesday accused of carrying out a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing, including Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II.

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“Ratko Mladic assumed the mantle of the criminal goal of ethnically cleansing Bosnia,” prosecutor Dermot Groome told the judges at the Yugoslav war crimes court in The Hague.

Mladic, 70, has been indicted on 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the Balkan country’s brutal 1992-95 war that killed 100,000 people and left 2.2 million homeless.

“The prosecution will present evidence that will show without reasonable doubt the hand of Mr Mladic in each of these crimes,” Groome added after Mladic, dressed in a dark grey suit and patterned tie, sarcastically briefly applauded judges as they walked into the courtroom.

Mladic pleaded not guilty to the charges at an earlier court hearing last June.

Outside the courtroom, a group of 25 women belonging to the “Mothers of Srebrenica” organisation representing widows and victims of the Srebrenica massacre, held a demonstration.

“This is the biggest butcher of the Balkans and the world,” Munira Subasic, 65, told AFP. She lost 22 relatives to Bosnian Serb military forces when the enclave of Srebrenica was overrun in July 1995.

“I’ll look into his eyes and ask him if he repents,” said Subasic, who said she would watch the trial’s opening from the public gallery.

Almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were systematically murdered as Bosnian-Serb forces under General Mladic’s command overran the town and Dutch UN peacekeepers helplessly looked on.

Prosecutors also hold him responsible for the 44-month siege of Sarajevo where his forces waged a “terror campaign” of sniping and shelling that left an estimated 10,000 people, the vast majority of them civilians, dead.

Two days ahead of the trial, his lawyers filed a request for a six-month adjournment, saying they needed more time to prepare a defence.

President Judge Alphons Orie said at the trial’s opening the court was still considering whether to postpone the case, on the grounds that the prosecution made a “significant error” which could affect the course of the trial.

During a string of pre-trial hearings, the ageing former general spoke about little else except to complain about his poor health and to ask presiding Dutch Judge Alphons Orie if he could wear his military uniform.

His lawyer Branko Lukic said Mladic suffered three strokes in 1996, 2008 and 2011 and was partly paralysed on his right side.

The tribunal’s president Judge Theodor Meron on Tuesday denied a defence request to have Orie removed from the bench after Mladic’s lawyers questioned his impartiality as he had previously sentenced several former subordinates of Mladic.

Radovan Karadzic, who as the Bosnian Serb political leader was Mladic’s boss, is already on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Both men are believed to be the main players in a plan to rid multi-ethnic Bosnia of Croats and Muslims during the bloody break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

It was in pursuit of a “Greater Serbia” that Mladic allegedly ordered his troops to “cleanse” Bosnian towns, driving out Croats, Muslims and other non-Serb residents.

After the war, Mladic continued his military career but went into hiding in 2000 after the government of then Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic fell.

He was on the run until May 2011 when he was arrested at a relative’s house in Lazarevo, northeastern Serbia and flown to a prison in The Hague a few days later.

Better known from media images as a blustery commander in military fatigues, last June a sickly and haggard-looking Mladic made his first court appearance, opening proceedings by saying: “I am general Ratko Mladic… I defended my country and my people.”

The trial is to continue on Thursday, before resuming on May 29. It could go on for three years before a judgment is handed down.

If found guilty, Mladic could face a life sentence.

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