Monday, April 8, 2019

Galactic Housekeeping #7

"There is more than one way to burn a book, and the world is full of people running around with lit matches." -- Ray Bradbury

The first item on the agenda is a response to the European Union's enactment of Article 13. In a nutshell, this eliminates the age-old doctrine of "fair use" when it comes to published and copyrighted material. It will require web providers to filter and censor copyrighted material from online communications ostensibly to protect the rights of the copyrighted, but that's bullshit.

For those who are unfamiliar with Fair Use, it basically states that one can, wholly or in part, make use of copyrighted material in any fashion intended to be distributed publicly so long as one makes it clear the material in question belongs, legally, to someone else. Typically, this is done by placing text, for example, inside quotation marks and then giving attribution to it's author. In terms of visual images, the source of the image must be identified, whenever possible. This applies across the entire spectrum of media communications, and to all manner of subjects from news stories, to scientific data, to political speech, to literary or artistic criticism. If you want to grab a quote from Joyce, post a picture of a Reubens, share a scientific formula, and you don't own the copyright, you must (really more like"should", it depends on how difficult it is to establish copyright) give due attribution, where possible.

According to the European Union, this no longer suffices. The thought is that by making tech giants more responsible for monitoring and censoring what appears on their intertoobies, the authors, creators, artists, etc., will receive more money for their creativity, and cut the income of a Google, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

In other words, don't link to that article on unless gives you specific permission to do so and you pay them for access, otherwise Facebook must censor your post.

It's intended to "level the playing field" in favor of the creator. Nice idea, except that's not how this works, and that's not how it will be used.

What this is really all about is strict censorship, particularly of criticism the European Union, it's Ministers and Policies and protecting it's allies in the leftist Press. It becomes difficult to protest and express dissent when anything you say that might contain a phrase, word, idea, that is in everyday use or parlance, can be yanked from the world's eyeballs on the basis that it's "copyrighted", or even on the erroneous belief that it might be.

The second problem with Article 13 is that it targets specific internet entities -- news aggregation sites (ex: InstaPundit, DrudgeReport), YouTube, anything Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any service which does not meet the following, really stupid, criteria:

* The entity has not been in existence for less than 3 years.

* It has an annual "turnover" of under 10 million Euros, per year.

* It has fewer than five million unique visitors a year.

This would require thousands of websites, perhaps millions, to install content filters and monitor online activity on everything from activity-focused sites (say, sites devoted to fishing, knitting, sports), to political or academic sites where a free exchange of ideas is taking place. This is censorship.

The second, less onerous but still ridiculous Article 11 is the so-called "link tax". This would allow, say, Newspapers, to charge providers a fee for allowing a link to their articles and sites. They already do this; for example, GoogleNews or MSN will pay news organizations for snippets, headlines and links which it will put on it's own sites to draw eyeballs.

Except that Article 11 leaves unclear how this system of remuneration should be standardized, how much is charged for what, and what everyone's legal rights are. For example: how MUCH of an article or quote needs to used in order to qualify for payment?

So, I'm just going to put it on the record right now, just in case it ever becomes necessary to have to fight the Nazi Party...erm...European Union over content on my site.

Get a life. Grow up. Censors are motivated by that which they fear most. In the EU's case, it appears to be memes the stuffed shirts don't like, articles denouncing them, content favoring break up of the EU, and all sorts of things dedicated to protesting unchecked immigration, Islamic terrorism and crime, or right-wing politics and anything "The Elite" decides paints the EU in a bad light. In effect, the EU is erecting an electronic version of the Berlin Wall; it is enacting a means of reducing free and public discourse.

I won't play that game, nor should anyone else.

Next Up: Shares and Likes. 

You guys are doing a wonderful job of sharing and liking my stuff on Facebook. View stats are increasing every week. Now that GooglePlus is gone the way of Tipper Gore and skinny leather neckties, it's probably the most-viable engine for continued circulation. Thanks very much, and keep up the good work! I really do appreciate you.

Next Morsel: Open Responses.

I think I would get even more traffic if I opened up the response box. The reason I don't is because of Bob in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, who has nothing better to do than masturbate and spam sites he doesn't like.

"Bob" doesn't actually exist: he's a stand-in for all the trolls, worldwide.

E-mails have come in suggesting I do so, and others suggesting that in the process of protesting censorship I'm engaging in it, myself. Which is a fair argument to make. I'll tell you why I haven't done so, already:

In a day and age where a blogger is often held responsible for what appears in his comments section, I've decided the best way to avoid having to pay lawyers is to just require comments to be moderated before being published. But, I'm not available 24/7 to moderate content and responses, which is a chore that mostly sucks, but which is kind of implied as required when you offer readers the option to do so.

I'm also told (but I knew this already) that many more would respond to posts if only they didn't need a Google ID to do so. Unfortunately, Google and Facebook no longer allow as smooth a means of communication between each other's products as they did in the past, and so that means using a third-party solution.

Which means paying for something that is not exactly promising a return on investment. Your Overlord likes compounded interest and dividends, you see.

I'm looking at a solution that achieves both goals: more open back-and-forth and which doesn't require me to pay a platform that can turn around and ban me -- after they have my money, or course -- for something one of my respondents has written and which is beyond my control...except by censoring the comment beforehand.

I'm an otherwise busy dude, so who knows when? It is coming, though.

Final Note:

I was unable to make blog posts here for a few days because Google is run by rhesus monkeys.

With Autism.

After nearly a week of sending fruitless help requests to their "automated tech support" app, I finally figured out the problem myself. Because Your Overlord is a computer genius that way. It has to do with Google not liking you using their products with a non-Google sign-in ID, like a Hotmail address.

This is petty bullshit. It's also pettier because if there was a change at Google or Blogger, no one announced it. Instead, you have a person who has been using your product since 2003 who can't get an answer to a very elemental question: why can't I log into my blog?

And then no one even attempts to answer you. All too busy flinging poo and censoring content they don't like, I guess.

There was one post I made strictly on Facebook this past weekend: I shall copy it here.

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