How an Italian judge made the internet illegal

Italian bloggers are up in arms at a court ruling early this year that suggests almost all Italian blogs are illegal. This month, a senior Italian politician went one step further, warning that most web activity is likely to be against the law.

The story begins back in May, when a judge in Modica (in Sicily) found local historian and author Carlo Ruta guilty of the crime of “stampa clandestina” – or publishing a “clandestine” newspaper – in respect of his blog. The judge ruled that since the blog had a headline, that made it an online newspaper, and brought it within the law’s remit.

Read moreHow an Italian judge made the internet illegal

Anti-War Website Operator Threatened By Armed Thugs


Tom Feeley, owner and editor of InformationClearingHouse.info, has endured public harassment, home invasions, death threats and threats to his family simply for running a website.

The operator of a leading alternative news and strongly anti-war website has become the target of nefarious thugs apparently in the employ of the U.S. government who have continually harassed him and ordered him to shut down his website.

Tom Feeley, owner and editor of Information Clearing House.info, has endured public harassment, home invasions, death threats and threats to his family simply for running a website.

Counterpunch writer Mike Whitney has circulated an e mail describing what happened to Feeley in an attempt to draw attention to the matter.

Whitney writes that earlier this week Feeley’s wife was startled to suddenly discover three well dressed men standing in her kitchen who told her that Tom must “Stop what he is doing on the Internet, NOW!”

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The Last Hurrah for the Banking System

The Bush administration will be mailing out another batch of “stimulus” checks in the very near future. There’s no way around it. The Fed is in a pickle and can’t lower interest rates for fear that food and energy prices will shoot to stratosphere. At the same time, the economy is shrinking faster than anyone thought possible with no sign of a rebound. That leaves stimulus checks as the only way to “prime the pump” and keep consumer spending chugging along. Otherwise business activity will slow to a crawl and the economy will tank. There’s no other choice.
The daily barrage of bad news is really starting to get on people’s nerves. Most of the TV chatterboxes have already cut-out the cheery stock market predictions and no one is praising the “impressive powers of the free market” anymore. They know things are bad, real bad. A pervasive sense of gloom has crept into the television studios just like it has into the stock exchanges and the luxury penthouses on Manhattan’s West End. That same sense of foreboding is creeping like a noxious cloud to every town and city across the country. Everyone is cutting back on non-essentials and trimming the fat from the family budget. The days of extravagant impulse-spending at the mall are over. So are the “big ticket” purchases and the “go-for-broke” trips to Europe. Consumer confidence is at historic lows, disposal income is a thing of the past, and all the credit cards are at their limit. The country is drowning in red ink.

Read moreThe Last Hurrah for the Banking System

John McCain ‘technology illiterate’ doesn’t email or use internet

Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, has admitted that he never uses email and that his staff has to show him websites because he is only just “learning to get online myself”.


John McCain said he didn’t feel a need to use email as he prefers to conduct his communications by phone

Mr McCain, who turns 72 this year, would be the oldest president ever to be first elected to the White House.

In facing Barack Obama, an opponent who is 25 years his junior and has made powerful use of the internet in his campaign, he is battling against claims he is stuck in the past.The former US Navy pilot, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war after his jet was shot down over Vietnam, did himself no favours when asked by “The New York Times” which websites he looks at.

“Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge,” he said, referring to his aides Brooke Buchanan and Mark Salter, who direct him to the Drudge Report website.

He added: “Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics, sometimes,” an apparent reference to the website RealClearPolitics.com.

At this point, Miss Buchanan and Mr McCain’s wife Cindy interjected that he also read his daughter Meghan’s blog.

“Excuse me, Meghan’s blog,” Mr McCain said, before remarking that he also read blogs by Adam Nagourney and Michael Cooper, the reporters interviewing him.

“And we also look at the blogs from Michael [Cooper] and from you [Mr Nagourney] that may not be in the newspaper, that are just part of your blog.”

When asked if he went online himself, the Arizona senator responded: “They go on for me. I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself.

“I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need – including going to my daughter’s blog first, before anything else.”

After Mr McCain conceded that he did not use a BlackBerry or email, Mr Salter butted in to say: “He uses a BlackBerry, just ours.” Mr McCain said: “I use the Blackberry, but I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail.

“I read e-mails all the time, but the communications that I have with my friends and staff are oral and done with my cell phone. I have the luxury of being in contact with them literally all the time. We now have a phone on the plane that is usable on the plane, so I just never really felt a need to do it.

“But I do – could I just say, really – I understand the impact of blogs on American politics today and political campaigns. I understand that.

Read moreJohn McCain ‘technology illiterate’ doesn’t email or use internet

“Radical” Iranian Bloggers Could Face Death for Their Writings


“Don’t be upset, we’ll execute you legally.” (Source: Abdol-Qader Balouch/Global Voice Online)

Iranian legislation seeks to K-line bloggers from the real world

A draft bill in the Iranian parliament is set to give bloggers the death penalty, if the government deems their writing as advocating corruption, prostitution, or desertion of Islam.

If so classified, bloggers will join those guilty of the above crimes in the real world to be branded as mohareb (an enemy of God) and “corrupt of the earth” – making him or her eligible for punishments ranging from exile, to amputations, to execution.

Further, if the bill becomes law, punishment bestowed by the system “cannot be commuted, suspended, or changed.”

Iranian bloggers and human rights activists fear the ease in which the government could casually accuse bloggers of offending the country’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Anti-censorship activist group Global Voice Online notes that about 18 months ago the Iranian government demanded bloggers register their websites, although the initiative failed to produce meaningful results. Bloggers widely considered registration as an enabler for future government suppression, and many proudly displayed an “I do not register my blog/site” badge in defiance of the mandate.

“Mentioning ‘blogging’ among crimes such as kidnapping, raping, armed robbery makes accusing bloggers easier than before… Such a law will harm the mental security of society more than the poor bloggers, who do not know what awaits them,” said Iranian blogger Mojtaba Saminejad. According to a Wikipedia bio linked by his “About Me” page, Saminejad spent 21 months in an Iranian prison beginning in 2005, including an alleged 88 days of solitary confinement and torture, due to a 2004 post reporting the arrest of three other bloggers. His official charges listed Saminejad as having insulted Iran’s head of state and “endangering national security.”

Read more“Radical” Iranian Bloggers Could Face Death for Their Writings

Associated Press expects you to pay to license 5-word quotations (and reserves the right to terminate your license)

In the name of “defin[ing] clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt” the Associated Press is now selling “quotation licenses” that allow bloggers, journallers, and people who forward quotations from articles to co-workers to quote their articles. The licenses start at $12.50 for quotations of 5-25 words. The licensing system exhorts you to snitch on people who publish without paying the blood-money, offering up to $1 million in reward money (they also think that “fair use” — the right to copy without permission — means “Contact the owner of the work to be sure you are covered under fair use.”).

It gets better! If you pay to quote the AP, but you offend the AP in so doing, the AP “reserves the right to terminate this Agreement at any time if Publisher or its agents finds Your use of the licensed Content to be offensive and/or damaging to Publisher’s reputation.”

Over on Making Light, Patrick Nielsen Hayden nails it:

The New York Times, an AP member organization, refers to this as an “attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt.” I suggest it’s better described as yet another attempt by a big media company to replace the established legal and social order with with a system of private law (the very definition of the word “privilege”) in which a few private organizations get to dictate to the rest of society what the rules will be. See also Virgin Media claiming the right to dictate to private citizens in Britain how they’re allowed to configure their home routers, or the new copyright bill being introduced in Canada, under which the international entertainment industry, rather than democratically-accountable representatives of the Canadian people, will get to define what does and doesn’t amount to proscribed “circumvention.” Hey, why have laws? Let’s just ask established businesses what kinds of behaviors they find inconvenient, and then send the police around to shut those behaviors down. Imagine the effort we’ll save.

Welcome to a world in which you won’t be able to effectively criticize the press, because you’ll be required to pay to quote as few as five words from what they publish.

Welcome to a world in which you won’t own any of your technology or your music or your books, because ensuring that someone makes their profit margins will justify depriving you of the even the most basic, commonsensical rights in your personal, hand-level household goods.

The people pushing for this stuff are not well-meaning, and they are not interested in making life better for artists, writers, or any other kind of individual creators. They are would-be aristocrats who fully intend to return us to a society of orders and classes, and they’re using so-called “intellectual property” law as a tool with which to do it. Whether or not you have ever personally taped a TV show or written a blog post, if you think you’re going to wind up on top in the sort of world these people are working to build, you are out of your mind.

Source: boingboing.net

Tech Crunch – Here’s Our New Policy On A.P. stories: They’re Banned


The stories over the weekend were bad enough – the Associated Press, with a long history of suing over quotations from their articles, went after Drudge Retort for having the audacity to link to their stories along with short quotations via reader submissions. Drudge Retort is doing nothing different than what Digg, TechMeme, Mixx and dozens of other sites do, and frankly the fact that they are being linked to should be considered a favor.

After heavy criticism over the last few days, the A.P. is in damage control mode, says the NYTimes, and retreating from their earlier position. But from what I read, they’re just pushing their case further.

They do not want people quoting their stories, despite the fact that such activity very clearly falls within the fair use exception to copyright law. They claim that the activity is an infringement.

A.P. vice president Jim Kennedy says they will issue guidelines telling bloggers what is acceptable and what isn’t, over and above what the law says is acceptable. They will “attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright.”

Those that disregard the guidelines risk being sued by the A.P., despite the fact that such use may fall under the concept of fair use.

The A.P. doesn’t get to make it’s own rules around how its content is used, if those rules are stricter than the law allows. So even thought they say they are making these new guidelines in the spirit of cooperation, it’s clear that, like the RIAA and MPAA, they are trying to claw their way to a set of property rights that don’t exist today and that they are not legally entitled to. And like the RIAA and MPAA, this is done to protect a dying business model – paid content.

So here’s our new policy on A.P. stories: they don’t exist. We don’t see them, we don’t quote them, we don’t link to them. They’re banned until they abandon this new strategy, and I encourage others to do the same until they back down from these ridiculous attempts to stop the spread of information around the Internet.

June 16, 2008
Michael Arrington

Source: Tech Crunch

AP To Set Guidelines For Using Its Articles In Blogs

The Associated Press, one of the nation’s largest news organizations, said that it will, for the first time, attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright.

The A.P.’s effort to impose some guidelines on the free-wheeling blogosphere, where extensive quoting and even copying of entire news articles is common, may offer a prominent definition of the important but vague doctrine of “fair use,” which holds that copyright owners cannot ban others from using small bits of their works under some circumstances. For example, a book reviewer is allowed to quote passages from the work without permission from the publisher.

Fair use has become an essential concept to many bloggers, who often quote portions of articles before discussing them. The A.P., a cooperative owned by 1,500 daily newspapers, including The New York Times, provides written articles and broadcast material to thousands of news organizations and Web sites that pay to use them.

Last week, The A.P. took an unusually strict position against quotation of its work, sending a letter to the Drudge Retort asking it to remove seven items that contained quotations from A.P. articles ranging from 39 to 79 words.

On Saturday, The A.P. retreated. Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P., said in an interview that the news organization had decided that its letter to the Drudge Retort was “heavy-handed” and that The A.P. was going to rethink its policies toward bloggers.

The quick about-face came, he said, because a number of well-known bloggers started criticizing its policy, claiming it would undercut the active discussion of the news that rages on sites, big and small, across the Internet.

The Drudge Retort was initially started as a left-leaning parody of the much larger Drudge Report, run by the conservative muckraker Matt Drudge. In recent years, the Drudge Retort has become more of a social news site, similar to sites like Digg, in which members post links to news articles for others to comment on.

But Rogers Cadenhead, the owner of the Drudge Retort and several other Web sites, said the issue goes far beyond one site. “There are millions of people sharing links to news articles on blogs, message boards and sites like Digg. If The A.P. has concerns that go all the way down to one or two sentences of quoting, they need to tell people what they think is legal and where the boundaries are.”

On Friday, The A.P. issued a statement defending its action, saying it was going to challenge blog postings containing excerpts of A.P. articles “when we feel the use is more reproduction than reference, or when others are encouraged to cut and paste.” An A.P. spokesman declined Friday to further explain the association’s position.

After that, however, the news association convened a meeting of its executives at which it decided to suspend its efforts to challenge blogs until it creates a more thoughtful standard.

Read moreAP To Set Guidelines For Using Its Articles In Blogs

Despite denials, military still studying clandestine use of blogs

It was revealed this week by Wired that a study written for the U.S. Special Operations Command in 2006 recommended “clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers” in order to promote messages favorable to the military. It also raised the possibility of altering an “enemy blog” by hacking to destroy its credibility or use it to spread false information.

The military has downplayed this study as an “academic exercise,” but its conclusions appear to match closely with a strong and growing focus by the Pentagon on what it calls “information warfare.”

Underlining this interest, this past January former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resurfaced for the first time in over a year to address a conference on “Network Centric Warfare.” He complained that Islamic radicals are winning the propaganda battle against the United States and proposed a “21st-century agency for global communications” that would tell the American side of the story, using resources ranging “from blogs to online social-networking sites to talk radio.”

During the question session afterward, Rumsfeld suggested again that “a new agency has to be something that would take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that exist today. There are multiple channels for information . . . The Internet is there, blogs are there, talk radio is there, e-mails are there. There are all kinds of opportunities.”

Until recently, the popular concept of information warfare primarily involved hacking or denial of service attacks deployed against blogs and websites in order to convey a political statement.

For example, at the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were reports of widespread hacking of both military and commercial websites. According to ZDNet, “most notably, the US Navy Web site was hacked by an activist called Apocalypse. The message posted on the site read: ‘No War, U.S.A think they can tell the world what to do.'” A few months later, several NASA sites were similarly hacked by Brazilian anti-war protesters.

Read moreDespite denials, military still studying clandestine use of blogs

Military Report: Secretly ‘Recruit or Hire Bloggers’

Source: Wired
A study, written for U.S. Special Operations Command, suggested “clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers.”

Since the start of the Iraq war, there’s been a raucous debate in military circles over how to handle blogs — and the servicemembers who want to keep them. One faction sees blogs as security risks, and a collective waste of troops’ time. The other (which includes top officers, like Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. William Caldwell) considers blogs to be a valuable source of information, and a way for ordinary troops to shape opinions, both at home and abroad.

Read moreMilitary Report: Secretly ‘Recruit or Hire Bloggers’