Stasi radio monitoring department, hard at work, 1980s

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Here's a small gallery of the East German secret police's 26th Division, hard at work during the 1980s. Read the rest

Mermaid tights with silicone shin-scales

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Daniel "Tinkercast" Struzyna, a designer in Dusseldorf, sells these tights with handmade silicone scales: $72.09 a pair, comes in aqua or coral. (via Seanan McGuire) Read the rest

Masked man opens fire in German movie theater, is shot dead by police

The cinema complex where the shooting took place [echo-online.de]
A mass shooting took place in Viernheim, Germany, near Frankfurt today. A gunman wearing a mask opened fire in a movie theater complex in the small western German town, German media reported.

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How "German mistrust" of the public turned Mein Kampf into a bestseller again

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Mein Kampf was about to enter the public domain in Germany, removing the country's preferred copyright-based method for keeping it away from readers' hearts and minds. There's no chance of them just letting it be available (as is done in the UK, US and Israel), but they didn't want to ban it outright, martyring Hitler afresh. Instead they favored what the BBC describes as "a heavily paternalistic approach": publishing a nigh-unreadable "critical edition" in the hopes that it would be too cumbersome to be popular. This not only failed, but ensured a constant stream of discussion and drama to keep it on the bestseller list.

[The publishers'] director, Andreas Wirsching, declared that it would be irresponsible to hand over Mein Kampf "free of copyright and commentary", because in that case everybody could do whatever they wanted with Hitler's book. ...

If anything public interest in the book was fanned unnecessarily by keeping the aura of the forbidden alive. By mid-April, Mein Kampf had managed to move to the pole position of Germany's influential Spiegel bestseller list, where it remained for several weeks. Even now it stands in 14th place, though many bookshops do not have the book on display and others only order the book on request.

This renewed calls to stop being so controlling and just let Hitler's long, boring rant die in the public domain. Read the rest

German court hands Kraftwerk its ass, rules sampling is legal

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Today, Kraftwerk lost its vindictive, 19-year-long copyright suit against Sabrina Setlur, whose 1997 song "Nur mir" looped a drum sequence from Kraftwerk's 1977 "Metall auf Metall." Read the rest

German court bans Erdogan insult poem

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When German chancellor Angela Merkel allowed the prosecution of a comedian who had insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, some thought it was strategic: that by doing so, it exposed the country's ancient ban on insulting heads of state to broad legal scrutiny.

A court in Hamburg, however, has now banned most of the insulting poem from being read in public there, further rattling those worried about free speech in Germany.

In Tuesday's ruling the court found that "Erdogan does not have to put up with the expression of certain passages in view of their outrageous content attacking (his) honour."

The court found that such material overstepped the boundaries of decency in attacking the Turkish leader.

[Comedian Jan] Boehmermann has indicated his poem was a response to Ankara's decision to summon Germany's ambassador to protest a satirical song broadcast on German TV which lampooned Erdogan in far tamer language.

This line, from the court, really sums up the problem: "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.”

"Germany's Ai Weiei," Boehmermann's clever self-appellation, has a good ring to it, but is surely inaccurate. How often does China interpret its laws for the tolerance of a foreign head of state? Read the rest

German publishers owe writers €100M in misappropriated royalties

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In Germany, media that can make or store copies (drives, copiers, blank optical discs) is subject to a "private copying levy" that is meant to compensate rightsholders for the works that will be copied to it (in return, the levy confers a limited right to make those copies to the purchaser). Read the rest

Germany will end copyright liability for open wifi operators

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Germany's ruling coalition is modifying the country's legal "Störerhaftung" theory, which currently makes people liable for copyright infringement if they operate an open wifi network that someone else uses for copyright infringement, even if the operator didn't and couldn't know about it. Read the rest

German politician arrested in Berlin for insulting Turkish president

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Bruno Kramm, leader of Berlin's branch of the German Pirate Party, was arrested Saturday for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kramm was detained while conducting a "literary analysis," in support of comedian Jan Boehmermann, outside the Turkish Embassy in Berlin. As part of the publicity stunt, he read two lines of Boehmermann poem ridiculing Erdogan.

The incident comes after chancellor Angela Merkel allowed prosecutors to file charges against Boehmermann, following Turkish demands that he be punished for broadcasting the poem on local television.

Boehmermann, however, was not physically detained by police.

RT reports that Kramm was "approached by several police officers" after he began citing the lines and taken into custody. Police dispersed the gathering, according to RT.

The arrest will further embarrass the German government, which sees itself as supportive of free speech but has failed to scrap an old law against insulting foreign heads of state. Merkel has promised to do so, but has also been criticized for condemning the poem and cosying up to the Turks to get them to accept more Syrian refugees. Read the rest

German chancellor allows prosecution of satirist who insulted Turkish president

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A German satirist faces court action after insulting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on television.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, in granting Turkey's request to allow the prosecution of Jan Boehmermann, cast her decision as adherence to the country's laws against insulting heads of state: “In a state governed by the rule of law, it’s not the domain of the government, but rather the prosecutors and the courts, to weigh individual rights.”

But critics say the law itself is an unacceptable infringement of essential freedoms, and point to another issue weighing heavily on Merkel's mind: the need to keep Turkey sweet so it will accept more refugees.

The furor has centered on Boehmermann, a comedian with public broadcaster ZDF who two weeks ago recited a poem about Erdogan that plumbed the depths of bawdiness in an effort to test the boundaries of acceptable satire under a law protecting foreign heads of state from libel. Merkel says her decision wasn’t a prejudgment on the satirist’s culpability.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday that the German comedian had committed a “crime against humanity” by insulting the Turkish head of state. “No one has the right to insult” Erdogan, Kurtulmus told reporters. Erdogan himself also filed a complaint with German prosecutors seeking legal action.

Boehmermann would receive no more than a small fine if convicted, according to legal experts. The poem was designed to test German limits on free speech, writes the BBC.

In true Boehmermann fashion, the poem was more complicated than simply a string of obscenities.

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Turkish government tells German ambassador to ban video satirizing president Erdoğan

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The Turkish government privately contacted Germany's ambassador to demand the censorship of a video satirizing the thin-skinned, famously corrupt Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, he of the 1,000-room palace whose erection required the razing of a nature preserve. Read the rest

Covert scan of museum's Nefertiti bust appears to be hoax

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Last month I blogged about Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles, a pair of artists who released a high-resolution scan of a looted Egyptian bust of Nefertiti in the collection of Berlin's Neues Museum, which has a reputation for refusing to make data from its collection (including 3D scans) public. Read the rest

Crowdfunding an English translation of the story of activists who kept the Internet on during the Arab Spring

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Stephan Urbach is part of Telecomix (previously), activists who worked tirelessly to keep the Internet on during the Arab Spring, when endangered despots were killswitching net links in a bid to keep protest from spreading. Read the rest

Wikileaks: NSA spied on UN Secretary General and world leaders over climate and trade

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In less than an hour, Wikileaks will publish a set of TOP-SECRET/COMINT-GAMMA documents -- "the most highly classified documents ever published by a media organization" -- that document NSA spying on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, and key Japanese and EU trade reps in an attempt to gain an advantage in negotiations regarding climate change and global trade. Read the rest

UPDATED Scanning artists de-loot stolen Egyptian treasure from a German museum

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Update: All is not what it seems: it appears that the artists and the public were duped by a third party into passing off an illicitly obtained official scan as one that had been made by covert means.

Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles, an Iraqi/German artistic duo, covertly scanned a famous looted Egyptian treasure, the Bust of Queen Nefertiti, from its contested perch in Berlin's Neues Museum. Read the rest

Association of German judges slams US-EU trade deal for its special corporate courts

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Trade agreements like TPP and the US-EU TTIP are notorious for their Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses, which let corporations sue governments in secret proceedings, in order to force them to get rid of environmental, safety and labor laws that reduce profits. Read the rest

Videos from the thirty-second Chaos Communications Congress

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More overtly political than security events like Vegas's Defcon, more regular than New York's HOPE, CCC events in Hamburg are an annual gathering of the hacktivist tribes. Read the rest

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