Online freedom of expression hits a ten-year low

Pam Cowburn from Article 19 writes, "Our new report shows that digital freedom of expression – defined as our ability to speak freely online – is at a ten year low. The report states that this decline is due to a rise in digital authoritarianism with governments taking control of internet infrastructure, increasing online surveillance and controlling content." Read the rest

Blizzard's president apologized for suspending Blitzchung, but the suspension is still in force

When Blizzard Entertainment president J Allen Brack opened this month's Blizzcon with a carefully worded apology over the company's suspension of Blitzchung, the Hearthstone champ who was punished for his in-game support of the Hong Kong protesters, what he didn't say (the words "Hong Kong" or "China") was just as newsworthy as what he did. Read the rest

CN Tower's management company claims that any picture of the landmark building is a trademark violation

The CN Tower is a giant radio antenna and tourist attraction on Toronto's lakeshore; it's an iconic part of the city's skyline, and has been since it was built at taxpayer expense; today, it's owned by a Crown Corporation that insists that any reproduction of the Tower is a trademark violation. Read the rest

Far-right Australian billionaire demands $500k and a vow of silence from a satirical vlogger

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has earned a reputation for being...colourful. Read the rest

French politicians want to add an ag-gag rule to the country's sweeping online hate speech proposal

One of the arguments against hate-speech laws is that once the state starts dividing expression into "allowed" and "prohibited," the "prohibited" category tends to grow, in three ways: first, because company lawyers and other veto-wielders err on the side of caution by excising anything that might be in the "prohibited" bucket; second, because courts respond to these shifts in the discourse by finding more and more edge-cases to be in violation of the law; and finally, because lawmakers are tempted to shovel any speech they or their campaign donors don't like into the "prohibited" bucket. Read the rest

Speech Police: vital, critical look at the drive to force Big Tech to control who may speak and what they may say

David Kaye (previously) has served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression since 2014 -- a critical half-decade in the evolution of free speech both online and offline; in Speech Police: The Global Struggle to Govern the Internet a new, short book from Columbia Special Reports, Kaye provides a snapshot of the global state of play for expression, as governments, platforms, and activists act out of a mix of both noble and corrupt motives to control online discourse. Read the rest

Poland has asked the European Court of Justice to overturn the #CopyrightDirective

The government of Poland has filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice, arguing that the recently passed Copyright Directive amounts of a form of censorship, "forbidden not only in the Polish constitution but also in the EU treaties." Read the rest

Not just Europe: EU Copyright Directive will censor the world's internet

The EU's catastrophic new Copyright Directive is steamrollering towards completion, and that should worry every internet user, not just those in the EU. Read the rest

Europe's copyright catastrophe is a harbinger of bad times for Canadians

Last week's catastrophic EU vote to censor and surveil the whole internet to catch copyright infringers isn't a local affair; the same corporations who were willing to sacrifice the internet to eke out a few percentage point gains in licensing revenue are busily at work in Canada, where a rewrite of copyright laws is underway. Read the rest

The EU's copyright plans will let anyone mass-censor the internet

Tomorrow's EU vote on a new copyright directive will determine whether the EU internet will be governed by algorithmic censorship filters whose blacklist anyone can add anything to. (Visit Save Your Internet to tell your MEP to vote against this) Read the rest

Disney (yes, Disney) declares war on "overzealous copyright holders"

Disney is being sued by the Michael Jackson estate for using fair-use clips in a biopic called "The Last Days of Michael Jackson" -- in its brief, the company decries "overzealous copyright holders" whose unwillingness to consider fair use harms "the right of free speech under the First Amendment." Read the rest

To rescue journalism, journalists must collaborate to defend free expression, not merely condemning Trump

Dan Gillmor (previously) writes that journalism is at a crisis point, as authoritarian politicians (including, but not limited to, Trump) step up their attacks on the free press, even assassinating their sharpest critics. Read the rest

For the best of reasons, The Slants won the right to trademark racially offensive slurs -- and now there's rather a lot of that

It's been a year since the Asian-American band The slants won their court case against the US Patent and Trademark office, which had refused to allow them to trademark their band-name because it was a racial slur. Read the rest

On June 20, an EU committee will vote on an apocalyptically stupid, internet-destroying copyright proposal that'll censor everything from Tinder profiles to Wikipedia (SHARE THIS!)

The European Union is updating its 2001 Copyright Directive, with a key committee vote coming up on June 20 or 21; on GDPR day, a rogue MEP jammed a mass censorship proposal into the draft that is literally the worst idea anyone in Europe ever had about the internet, ever. Read the rest

Everyone Creates: a website celebrating the creativity that the internet has unlocked for millions of people

When we debate copyright policy on the internet, the story is pitched as "creators vs technology," but that leaves out the millions of people who create, but who are not part of the traditional entertainment industry -- people whose self-expression, artistic fulfillment, and audiences matter every bit as much as the audiences for creators who sign on to the big labels, studios, publishers and news bureaux. Read the rest

Everything is a Remix covers Fair Use

Everything is a Remix (previously) is an important, entertaining series of short videos that trace the ways the creation is built on earlier creation -- that "originality" is just mixing existing things in new ways. Read the rest

Interview with the first artist in the US to be convicted of artistic obscenity

Brian H writes, "Cartoonist Mike Diana is the first artist in the US to receive a criminal conviction for artistic obscenity. Here he recounts (MP3) the trial that barred him from drawing for three years and has made it impossible for him to return to Florida nearly 25 years later." Read the rest

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