As the German Government Abandons Small Businesses, the Worst Parts of the EU Copyright Directive Come Roaring Back, Made Even Worse

Last month, it seemed like Europe had been saved from a dangerous attempt by corporate lobbyists to hijack copyright legislation in order to add a few points to their balance sheets, at the cost of a free, fair, open internet. Now, thanks to Germany's decision to turn its back on small European tech companies, the EU is poised once again to hand permanent control over Europe's internet to the United States’ Big Tech sector, snuffing out the small- and medium-sized enterprises of Europe.

The new European Directive on Copyright in the Single Market is a grab-bag of updates to EU-wide copyright rules, which have been frozen in time since their last refresh, in 2001. But the Directive been imperiled since last spring, when German MEP Axel Voss took over as rapporteur, and promptly revived two controversial, unworkable clauses.

To remain credible, the EU must reject this haggling between giant commercial interests—and put the public good first.

Voss's deadly pet ideas were, first, a proposal to let news sites decide who could link to them and to charge for the privilege (Article 11); and second, a proposal to require every platform for public communication to invent and deploy copyright filters that would prevent any user from infringing copyright, even momentarily, by suppressing any communications that appeared to contain a copyrighted work of any kind (Article 13).

The response was swift and decisive: more than a million Europeans promptly wrote to their MEPs to demand that the Directive be voted on clause-by-clause, allowing for Articles 11 and 13 to be amended. Read the rest

As Macron and Merkel meet to rescue the #CopyrightDirective, the world's libraries call for its rejection

The EU's plan to censor the internet with algorithms that block anything that might be a copyright infringement has only days to go before it will be too late for a vote before the upcoming elections, and so far, progress has been stalled thanks to France's unwillingness to accept tiny, meaningless concessions that Germany feels they must win to retain political credibility. Read the rest

Archaeological evidence for the Iron Age practice of embalming your enemies' severed heads with resin and displaying them

Ancient Roman texts and sculptures describe a Celtic practice of severing your defeated enemies' heads, embalming them with resin and plant oils, and displaying them as war trophies: now, archaeologists have unearthed evidence of the practice at Le Cailar, the 2,500 year old walled city near the Rhone. Read the rest

Teen self-injects verses from the Bible and the Koran that have been transposed into DNA

In the first injection in a human being of macromolecules whose primary structure was developed from a religious text a French 16 year old named Adrien Locatelli describes how he paid Vector Builder $1300 to transcode verses from the Bible and the Koran into macromolecules and then injected one verse into each leg (the Bible verse was written into the DNA of an adeno-associated virus and injected into his left thigh; the Koran verse was encoded into DNA but not merged with a virus and was then injected into his right thigh). Read the rest

Facing unpaid overtime, cuts and austerity, French cops threaten to join Gilets Jaunes protesters

When French President (and ex-investment banker) Macron decided to cut taxes for the super-rich and make up the shortfall by taxing diesel fuel (widespread in poor rural areas) but not private jet fuel, he put the already-precarious French treasury into an even more precarious state. Read the rest

Yellow Vests stand for and against many contradictory things, but are united in opposition to oligarchy

From a distance, it's hard to understand the nuance of the mass "gilets jaunes" protests that rocked France; with one in five French people identifying as a yellow vest and more vests marching in Basra, Baghdad and Alberta (and with Egypt's autocrats pre-emptive cracking down on the sale of yellow vests ahead of elections), it's clearly a complicated and fast-spreading phenomenon. Read the rest

Canal+ commits copyfraud, gets Banksy's painting-shredding video removed from Youtube

In October, a delightful prank by the artist Banksy involved a painting of his shredding itself shortly after a Sotheby's bidder committed to spending £1.04m to buy it. Read the rest

Those violent 'yellow jacket' protests in France? Facebook's behind that, too.

Facebook's changes to content display algorithms met with “the fierce devotion in France to local and regional identity,” and the so-called yellow jacket protests in France exploded. Read the rest

Chinese spies attempted to compromise 4,000 French citizens on LinkedIn

With the midterm elections creeping up, everyone in the media's been busier than a cat trying to bury a turd in a marble floor watching for signs of Russian interference. Given the amount of chaos that Russia's cyber operatives have been responsible for over the past few years, this is totally understandable. However, it might be a good idea for the media to keep an eye on China's online comings and goings, as well.

According to a report released by the French government, Chinese cyber operatives have been hard at work attempting to compromise or enlist thousands of well-placed professionals and intellectuals online to leverage in the real world.

From IntelNews:

The report describes Chinese efforts to approach senior French scientists, business executives, academics and others, as “widespread and elaborate”, and warns that it poses an “unprecedented threat against the national interests” of the French state. It goes on to state that nearly 4,000 carefully selected French citizens have been approached by Chinese intelligence operatives via the LinkedIn social media platform. Of those nearly half, or 1,700, have leading posts in French industry, while the remaining 2,300 work in the public sector. In their totality, those targeted are involved nearly every area of industry and government administration, including those of nuclear energy, telecommunications, computing and transportation, said the report.

Uh Oh.

In many cases, the Chinese operatives used fake identities, pretending to be headhunters for overseas corporations and think tanks on LinkedIn. As part of the ruse, the ops would invite their targets on all-expenses-paid trips to China for job interviews or research symposiums – whatever turned their target's crank. Read the rest

Famous racist does everyone a favor and dies

Racists, emboldened by the policies of populist far-right leaning governments, seem to be everywhere these days. They're having rallies, breaking up families at borders and beating folks in the streets. Happily, time is a wheel: as our lives our lessened by the emergence of fresh bigoted bullshit, we're also gifted with what I hope is the incredibly painful passing of those who made it their life's work to spew hate and kindle chaos.

From The New York Times:

Robert Faurisson, a former literature professor turned anti-Semitic propagandist whose denial of the Holocaust earned him multiple prosecutions, died on Sunday at his home in Vichy, France. He was 89.

Mr. Faurisson was regarded as a father figure by contemporary French exponents of Holocaust denial, the extremist fringe in a country with a long tradition of anti-Semitism. Contemporary far-right figures like the propagandist Alain Soral and Dieudonné, who calls himself a humorist, have followed in his footsteps, but none have had the long-range tenacity of Mr. Faurisson.

At least in death, he might finally be able to contribute to something useful--fertilizing palm trees to provide observant Jews with shelter from the elements during Sukkot, for example.

While things feel as permissive as hell here in North America, the French weren't willing to put up with Faurisson's holocaust denying nonsense. According to The New York Times, he became the first person in France to be convicted for saying that the Holocaust, a crime against humanity, never happened. More recently, the prick was fined 10,000 euros by the French courts for "propounding 'negationism'" in interviews published on the internet."

Good riddance. Read the rest

Kerwax: analog home mixer, designed and manufactured in France

Kerwax Studios in Brittany, France sports some of the most beautiful, vintage audio mixing gear you'll ever see; the studios have made a "replica" in the form of an "excerpt" that does two channels' mixing, with customizable tube options to "shape the sound." No word on price. At a guess: "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." Read the rest

Crows being trained to pick up trash at French park

You can befriend crows and, apparently, also train them to pick up trash by rewarding them with food.

The Guardian:

Six crows trained to pick up cigarette ends and rubbish will be put to work next week at a French historical theme park, according to its president.

“The goal is not just to clear up, because the visitors are generally careful to keep things clean” but also to show that “nature itself can teach us to take care of the environment”, said Nicolas de Villiers of the Puy du Fou park, in the western Vendee region.

Rooks, a member of the crow family of birds that also includes the carrion crow, jackdaw and raven, are considered to be “particularly intelligent” and in the right circumstances “like to communicate with humans and establish a relationship through play”, Villiers said.

The birds will be encouraged to spruce up the park through the use of a small box that delivers a nugget of bird food each time the rook deposits a cigarette end or small piece of rubbish.

Rook at this mess: French park trains crows to pick up litter

photo by Mr.TinDC Read the rest

This castle has been 20 years in the making--and it's not even finished yet

In the north of Burgandy, France, a group of history buffs are hard at work building a castle, from scratch, using traditional building methods and materials--and they've been at it for TWENTY YEARS. The project is supported entirely on the backs of donations and hard, dedicated, manual labor.

Incredible. Read the rest

France's Front National (who support the EU's mandatory copyright filters) furious when Youtube's copyright filters kill their channel

On June 20, an EU committee will vote on mandatory copyright filters -- the idea that everything that gets posted to an EU service should be checked for copyright violations by a machine learning system that will decide what gets published and what gets censored. Read the rest

Real-life "Spider-Man" scales Parisian building to save dangling child, gets rewarded with citizenship

It took 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama just seconds to reach a child that was dangling from the fifth-floor balcony of a building in Paris, saving the four-year-old boy.

The undocumented migrant worker from Mali was rewarded handsomely for his courageous act. French President Emmanuel Macron met with the man and granted him French citizenship and a job as a firefighter.

USA Today reports:

“Bravo,” Macron said to 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama during a one-on-one meeting in a gilded room of the presidential Elysee Palace that ended with Gassama receiving a gold medal from the French state for “courage and devotion.”

...The young man said he has papers to legally stay in Italy, where he arrived in Europe after crossing the Mediterranean, ending a long, rough stay in Libya. But he came to France last September to join his older brother, who has lived in France for decades.

Gassama, dressed in tattered blue jeans and white shirt, recounted his experience which took place at around 8 p.m. Saturday when he and friends saw a young child hanging from a fifth-floor balcony.

“I ran. I crossed the street to save him,” he told Macron. He said he didn’t think twice. “When I started to climb, it gave me courage to keep climbing.”

God “helped me,” too, he said. “Thank God I saved him.”

The boy's father was detained overnight for neglect. Read the rest

The first cyberattack took place nearly 200 years ago in France

France created a national mechanical telegraph system in the 1790s; in 1834, a pair of crooked bankers named François and Joseph Blanc launched the first cyberattack, poisoning the data that went over the system in order to get a trading advantage in the bond market. Read the rest

Eminent Domain: registrar gives France.com to the French government, destroying its owner's business

France.com was a popular travel site owned and operated by a U.S.-based French expat. Jean-Noel Frydman registered a trademark, had hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, and loved his birth country. For years, the French government was happy with it, even giving Frydman an award. In 2016, though, it decided it wanted his domain for itself. Though the .com top-level domain is administered in the U.S., they didn't have to go to court in America to get it. That's because the domain registrar, web.com, gave it to them.

It’s unclear if a US court ever validated the order with an international enforcement of judgment, a common measure for foreign rulings involving US businesses. But if Web.com had enough business in France, that may not have been necessary. Faced with a valid court order and the pressure of an entire government, the company’s lawyers may have simply decided it wasn’t worth fighting the issue in court. (Web.com did not respond to multiple requests for comment on their policy regarding court-ordered transfers.)

Trademarks, the domain-name resolution system, WIPO: all useless if your registrar is shady or easily rolled. This appears to be the first appropriation of a .com domain in this manner and confers upon web.com a uniquely dismal distinction.

Also consider the next level up: operators of fashionable new top-level-domains. They set prices per domain, with lists of "premium" ones with higher prices. So if you establish a successful business at .???, you may succeed in making your domain name "premium." Which means an extra zero or two tacked onto domain renewal fees. Read the rest

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