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EU Publishers Want a Law To Control Online News 168

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the protect-yourself-right-out-of-the-market dept.
suraj.sun writes with news that European publishers are also seeking ways to "protect" their content from the big bad intertubes. Their rant, termed the "Hamburg Declaration," asks the government to step in with a legislative fix. "Most of the statements in the relatively short declaration, which will surely take its place among thousands of other European declarations on intellectual property and other matters that have come out over the past few years, hinge on the idea that 'universal access to news' does not equal 'free.' In this respect, the publishers want to maintain the democratic ideal of a 'fourth estate' that provides news to an informed citizenry, while simultaneously restricting access to that news to those who can pay for it directly. What sets this declaration apart from the other Hamburg declarations out there, or from the various Geneva declarations or Berlin declarations, is that this one is intended to give the publishers' favorite solution to the news-stealing problem, the Automated Content Access Protocol, the force of law."
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EU Publishers Want a Law To Control Online News

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  • This won't Work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmacleod808 (729707) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:41PM (#28683769)
    people will gravitate towards free. If they go pay... people will just go elsewhere its simple as that, law or no law.
    • Re:This won't Work (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RDW (41497) on Monday July 13, 2009 @07:48PM (#28684467)

      'people will gravitate towards free. If they go pay... people will just go elsewhere its simple as that, law or no law.'

      Well, I think we should at least consider the terms of their proposal carefully. Check out the full text below:

      "Hamburg Declaration regarding intellectual property rights

      The Internet offers immense opportunities to professional journalism - but only if the basis for profitability remains secure throughout the digital channels of distribution. This is currently [ERROR! ACAP VIOLATION IN PROGRESS! YOU HAVE EXCEEDED THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF CHARACTERS ALLOCATED TO THIS NEWS AGGREGATOR! PLEASE DEPOSIT EUR 50 TO READ THE NEXT 100 WORDS OF THIS ARTICLE!]"

  • by Amazing Quantum Man (458715) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:43PM (#28683795) Homepage

    1. Don't put it on the web
    2. Learn how to use robots.txt

    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday July 13, 2009 @07:03PM (#28684021)

      You misunderstand their argument. Of course they want it indexed, just look at how many thousands of people look at their news everyday that wouldn't if it weren't indexed. They desperately want that readership... to pay them for the service. They aren't saying "we don't want people to read us", they're saying "we want everyone who reads us to pay for it".

      Saying robots.txt is like telling a hungry 2 year old that they can't have a Popsicle and should go eat a green beans instead. Yeah, the green beans will make them not hungry, but it's the damn Popsicle that they want (incidentally, you'll get about the same response from either group).

      • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday July 13, 2009 @07:13PM (#28684141) Homepage

        Saying robots.txt is like telling a hungry 2 year old that they can't have a Popsicle and should go eat a green beans instead.

        In many parts of Asia, green bean popsicles are popular with all ages. Where is your god now?

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          In many parts of Asia, green bean popsicles are popular with all ages. Where is your god now?

          Asia is already full of copyright scofflaws and I forsee a huge business opportunity for whatever Asian country is willing to host search engines and tell the publishing industry to go fuck themselves.

        • Where is your god now?

          Right behind you.

      • by zogger (617870) on Monday July 13, 2009 @08:01PM (#28684609) Homepage Journal

        The big dogs like google could start charging these guys to index their precious. I wish they would have done something like that rather than cave into AP, etc, for just quoting little snippets to have *something* to show where this news link was coming from. Do it on a case by case basis, the various news websites want their news paywall to be indexed, they should pay for that professional servgice, if they don't throw up a paywall, then they get indexed for free, like today. Ball is in the news orgs court then when it comes to what they think things are worth or not.

        I have mixed feelings about google, but sometimes I think they are too nice and cave in too readily. It can't be that much fun to be the biggest of the big dogs and not get to bite some ass once in awhile.

        • All I want is for google to give me the option to not display hits that I cannot view.

          When you try searching for anything vaguely technical you get hundreds or thousands of hits to links like nature, linkinghub.elsevier etc.

          Some (most) of us are laymen most of the time, often doing searches "just out of interest". We're NEVER going to pay to view the articles. Even worse, because the searches tend to be in fields we're not familiar with (in the fields we are familiar with we already know about the seminal w

          • Very good point (Score:2, Insightful)

            by zogger (617870)

            And yes, this is annoying to me as well. I think that if there is even one penny of public tax money that goes to the researchers who write these articles, that the entire paper be free to view in its entirety. Those academic paywalls are *most annoying*, especially when even the summaries/abstracts suck and don't tell much. I try to not even tease myself anymore and just use sites like PlOS, etc. Google should have a way to not show paywalls on request. You can do that with the negative modifiers with your

      • " they're saying "we want everyone who reads us to pay for it"."

        The problem is no one wants to pay them, i.e. there is no market for it anymore because of the internet.

        I find it humorous that people chant "Free market" and "choice for the consumer" but suddenly backtrack into collectivism under the rubric of property rights, trying to enforce something on people that the clearly do not want by manufacturing artificial monopolies (laws), even if the law won't have any it still shows how ridiculous people are

        • by shentino (1139071)
          It's just plain selfishness. Economic theory is based on the assumption that people are greedy and will advance their own self interests. Sadly, it's a sound theory exactly BECAUSE people are greedy.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by blahplusplus (757119)

            It goes beyond just selfishness, the whole point of the free market is the buyer chooses of his own will, making a law to force people to pay for something that they don't want and did not choose freely is the anti-thesis of that.

            • by shentino (1139071)
              Selfishness however is what makes corporate fatcats lobby for such laws in the first place.
          • by polar red (215081)

            it's a sound theory

            Economic theory is a bunch of inapplicable hogwash, because it is also based on the assumption : total information available to all players.

            • by shentino (1139071)
              Not always. Knowledge is accounted for. Such as: Moral hazard in the insurance industry, information itself being a commodity, as well as how price discrimination can exploit how three different grades of green beans are actually the same. The FTC actually had a case about this, since the consumers did NOT have complete information.
            • by polar red (215081)

              actually, i meant : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_information [wikipedia.org]perfect information, not total information.
              also see : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics#Criticism_of_assumptions [wikipedia.org]

              Nevertheless, prominent mainstream economists such as Keynes[157] and Joskow, along with heterodox economists, have observed that much of economics is conceptual rather than quantitative, and difficult to model and formalize quantitatively.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rtb61 (674572)

            Not really true. Only the minority are truly greedy, those that no matter how much they have always want more. The majority truly do share and care, whilst the greedy minority try to hide their psychopathy behind the claim that the everyone else that struggles for a comfortable place to live, healthy and satisfying food for the family, a future for their children basically trying live healthy and happy life with good neighbours, is somehow greedy, a real lie.

            In this case the fourth estate who sold 'truth

        • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

          Every time new media comes around the print world goes into armageddon mode. First it was radio they waged war on, then television and now the intertubes. The doomsayers who see threats instead of opportunities shouldn't be in the creative business anyway and deserve to be culled. The weak will die off, the strong will adapt and prosper and balance in the force shall be restored.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Beetle B. (516615)

        You misunderstand their argument. Of course they want it indexed, just look at how many thousands of people look at their news everyday that wouldn't if it weren't indexed. They desperately want that readership... to pay them for the service. They aren't saying "we don't want people to read us", they're saying "we want everyone who reads us to pay for it".

        Not sure why they can't do this.

        Just post indexing info and excerpts for free, and put the rest behind a pay-wall. Google News will still carry it, and everyone (except readers like me) will be happy.

        • by julesh (229690)

          Not sure why they can't do this.

          Just post indexing info and excerpts for free, and put the rest behind a pay-wall.

          The problem there is they want the search engines to index based on the full content of the article, but don't want them to quote chunks out of that content. This can't be achieved without a fundamental change in how search engines work, which is what they want legislated. They ignore, of course, the last 50 years of "fair use" legal history and the fact that even countries that don't current

    • FYI, robots.txt can be ignored by anything that chooses to ignore it. In fact, many web crawlers have caused problems because of this. If directory "huge_downloads_in_here" is marked to disallow, it's annoying when a web crawler starts downloading everything in there 10 times per day.

    • Robots text? Strange, I would have thought they use radio.

  • What garbage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dr_Ken (1163339) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:44PM (#28683797) Journal
    I hope Obama doesn't buy into this stuff. The "fourth estate" has enough clout already.
  • Simple. Disable RSS feeds,disallow all robots and then put it behind a paywall and see what happens.... either it thrives as the Wall Street journal seems to be doing, or it doesn't, as the 99% of other sites who have tried similar ideas. Where do I send my invoice?
  • totally unworkable

    who is to say that one report is ripping off another?

    or that another report is not ripping off the first?

    impossible to police, even harder to prosecute.

  • how ironic that true information freedom will end up being centered in countries such as russia, or countries with less governmental control, such as on the african continent, or south america. hell, so called "unfree" countries such as china, even with it's great internet wall, will become safe havens for data that is heavily regulated by the west.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday July 13, 2009 @07:31PM (#28684297) Journal
      I wouldn't go that far. The (much less ironic) observation is that different governments have different priorities and their policing tactics reflect this.

      China doesn't much care about bourgeois western "intellectual property", so you can send spam hawking pirated software all you want. Send out invites for your next falun gong meeting or democracy protest, though, and you'll discover what 'so called "unfree"' really means.

      The US is quite solid on speech that doesn't upset major corporations, and is an excellent spot for saying mean things about religious figures, expressing all kinds of fun political theories, hosting your "handguns I have known and loved" archive or whatever. Not such a good place to host "WareZ and DeCSS 4LyFE!", though.

      There are plenty of locations(though exactly where they are tends to drift over time) where the state is weak enough, or enough in need of foreign investment/aid, that(as long as you maintain a polite disinterest in local politics, and pay the occasional bribe) they won't really bother you at all. Pretty much any government will come down on you like a ton of bricks in response to some class of actions on your part and pretty much any government has another class of activities of which it approves, or simply doesn't care.
      • The US is quite solid on speech that doesn't upset major corporations, and is an excellent spot for saying mean things about religious figures, expressing all kinds of fun political theories, hosting your "handguns I have known and loved" archive or whatever. Not such a good place to host "WareZ and DeCSS 4LyFE!", though.

        Really? You really consider copyright violation to be an exercise in free speech? And the crackdown on torrent sites a concession of our freedom to the "big evil companies?" I definite

        • Straight copyright violation, no. However, I would consider things like the DMCA's ban on "circumvention devices" or the asymmetry between the ease of sending a DMCA takedown and replying to one, as distinctly relevant to free speech concerns.

          I don't have a problem with copyright, within its bounds; but it is used to push a lot of very dubious stuff.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:48PM (#28683855) Journal
    Hamburg Declaration:

    "I'll have mine with cheese and bacon."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by erroneus (253617)

      Here I was imagining Obama flying to Germany making a famous "Ich ben ein Hamburger!"

      Oh how I would love him to say that...

      • FWIW, I get your joke and think it's very funny.

        BTW, it's "bin", not "ben".

      • Busted [about.com]:

        So, while the proper way for a Berlin native to say "I am a Berliner" is "Ich bin Berliner," the proper way for a non-native to make the same statement metaphorically is precisely what Kennedy said: "Ich bin ein Berliner." In spite of the fact that it's also the correct way to say "I am a jelly donut," no adult German speaker could possibly have misunderstood Kennedy's meaning in context.

        • In spite of the fact that it's also the correct way to say "I am a jelly donut," no adult German speaker could possibly have misunderstood Kennedy's meaning in context.

          Be that as it may, my German teacher, who is German through and through, described watching the Kennedy speech on the tube with her family in Germany and busting a gut when he uttered that line, for which her grandmother scolded her for being disrespectful.

          A person from Hamburg is called, in both English and German, a "Hamburger", and thus

          • by Sique (173459)

            Be that as it may, my German teacher, who is German through and through, described watching the Kennedy speech on the tube with her family in Germany and busting a gut when he uttered that line, for which her grandmother scolded her for being disrespectful.

            It gets more complicated. The speech was given in Berlin, and in Berlin the famous jelly donut is not called Berliner. So for each Berliner, to whom the speech was addressed, it was clear that it meant "citizen of Berlin". If Kennedy wanted the people of Berlin to know that he equals himself to a jelly donut, he would have said "I am a Pfannkuchen" (Pfannkuchen = pancake for most Germans, but not for people of Berlin and south of it, the pancake is called "Eierkuchen" = egg cake in Berlin).

    • Hamburg Declaration: "I'll have mine with cheese and bacon."

      But are you going to pay for it today or on Tuesday?

  • by flydude18 (839328) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:50PM (#28683875)

    Sorry.

  • by reboot246 (623534) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:51PM (#28683883) Homepage
    I'd settle for news organizations doing a better job of reporting the news, and stop the spinning and opinions. I'd pay for real news with no bias.

    Just the facts as best you can report them please. Leave your opinions at home.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tom Smith (1305367)

      only on the condition that there is ZERO reportage of "celebrity" nonsense

      i would not pay a single penny if their inanity were infecting a news source i was paying for, it's bad enough seeing their crap all over the BBC news site (which i suppose i actually AM directly paying for already, but we don't have a choice but to pay for that).

    • by samkass (174571) on Monday July 13, 2009 @07:10PM (#28684109) Homepage Journal

      Many governments publish gigabytes of CSV files, PDF files, and database files. I assume that's what you're referring to when you say you just want facts published. Should the New York Times just be filled with tables of data?

      If you want that information translated into written English, the author of that text is going to have a point of view and a context within which they write. It's the way language works. And everyone wants other people to share their understanding of events.

      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday July 13, 2009 @07:22PM (#28684219)
        But if you look at American televised news, you see that it really isn't news but rather a bunch of opinionated people trying to create A) Panic so more people will tune in (look at how they handled Swine Flu) B) A "shocking" story that isn't news or C) Things that paint their company in a positive light. Electronic and print news has bias, but it is less of opinion and more on the selection of stories. While some of it could be justified (people reading TorrentFreak aren't going to really care about how some guy got busted selling bootlegged DVDs in China) a lot of it is to spin the "facts" towards one side.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by somenickname (1270442)

        Many governments publish gigabytes of CSV files, PDF files, and database files. I assume that's what you're referring to when you say you just want facts published. Should the New York Times just be filled with tables of data?

        No, they should describe the contents of those documents in English and in an unbiased manner. That's what "the news" is. It's not sensationalist crap with a slant on the writers/editors/publishers view.

        If you want that information translated into written English, the author of that text is going to have a point of view and a context within which they write. It's the way language works. And everyone wants other people to share their understanding of events.

        Then they shouldn't be writing it. It has nothing to do with the language. What you are describing is a blog. The news is not a blog. If I read a news article that says, "this reporter thinks", "our analyst thinks", "our correspondent thinks", and I gave a fuck about what any of those people think, I w

    • I find the BBC's world news to be pretty unbiased as for the part of opinions. Though I do think they publish stories with only a few "facts" to sway one side or another.
      • The BBC is paid for by the British Government, one way or another. In a different country that type of funding would be a really bad idea.
        • I think government funded TV works (with varying degrees of unbias) in much of the western world (BBC,ABC,TVE,etc), i do agree that trying it in America would cause hell though.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Tom Smith (1305367)

          the BBC is not paid for by the government.

          the BBC is paid for by the british public through a "license" we are pretty much forced to buy.

          sure, if you do NOT own or possess a television, VCR, dvd player, radio or computer, you don't have to pay for it... (including in your car)

          do you know anyone without any form of electronic entertainment?

          the one good thing about this system is that the british government has zero influence or control over the BBC (in theory) and the BBC is free the criticise the government

          • the BBC is paid for by the british public through a "license" we are pretty much forced to buy.

            By the Government. Thats what I mean by "one way or another".

          • the biggest problem though, is that most of the output of the BBC is complete crap, vying for the attentions of the lowest common denominator (stupidest) of dole scrounging (welfare) scumbags (jerks) from sink estates (the projects). american translations in brackets for those that need them there...

            In America we call those parentheses. Brackets are either square: [] or angle: . Then there are these {}, which are braces.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FourthAge (1377519)

        The BBC definitely are biased. The thing about bias is that you only tend to notice it when it jars with your own personal world view. That's when it really stands out, and you think "OMG WTF, how can you say that?"

        I often find this on the BBC, but then, I disapprove of their predominant ideology, and that of the government they serve (see my sig). I live in Britain.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          "bias" is not so much of a problem as is lack of any real content.

          Intelligent discourse can survive "bias" as long enough information is presented.

          Buckley and NPR are both good examples of this.

  • I make steamengines and I did not believe in the combustionengine. Please make it a crime to own a combustion-engine. That is what these people want. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • by popo (107611) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:53PM (#28683911) Homepage

    This isn't about free web content, or copyright.

    The newspapers are trying to establish ownership of the underlying INFORMATION, not just the words they use to convey that information.

    Newspapers who actually go out and "get" news are trying to establish control over that information so that those who re-report do not compete directly with the original report.

    This isn't about copyright, it is about establishing a new 'estate' of IP which establishes ownership over directly sourced/reported information.

    • by Zerth (26112) on Monday July 13, 2009 @06:58PM (#28683971)

      Which is hilarious, since most newspapers have been axing their writers left and right. Something like 3/4 of your major local rag is probably AP stories.

      Like the AP needs help sucking money out of newspapers.

      • American newspapers (Score:5, Interesting)

        by andersh (229403) on Monday July 13, 2009 @08:39PM (#28684875)

        While that is true for many American newspapers it's not the same for European newspapers. And Europeans read more newspapers than the average US American (according to the int'l newspaper association).

        Then again Europe is not a country and with over 47 countries there are a whole lot of variety in newspapers (and sources).

        In my own country newspapers are seen as an important public function and are subsidized to support independent, varied and local reporting [ejc.net]. It's given to support political views and cultural issues such as publishing in the regional language (official language, not dialect). Small, regional newspapers are seen as part of the democratic foundation of my country. I suppose that's why my countrymen and I read the most newspaper per capita in the world.

        • It probably doesnt hurt that norway is dark and encased in ice for a huge chunk of the year.

          • Simple depiction (Score:4, Interesting)

            by andersh (229403) on Monday July 13, 2009 @11:24PM (#28686067)

            It probably doesnt hurt that norway is dark and encased in ice for a huge chunk of the year.

            Nope. That's a simple and untrue depiction of my country. If you knew anything about Norway you would know that there is a great deal of variety from arctic Finnmark county to the summer paradise of our southern coastal regions. It's a very long country. You seem to think there's some kind of total winter darkness here? That's only in the far north, the majority of the country experiences four regular seasons. And the winters vary a lot, some regions don't even experience snow.

            You do realize we do not have polar bears in our streets? The last weeks we've had great sunny days with temperatures above 86 F (30 C) - 95 F (35 C). Winters can be cold of course.

            In fact the major factors behind newspaper readership in Norway is the high levels of education, grassroots political and organizational involvement. It helps living in a country where the majority of the population is college educated [for generations], and education is free. Even the least academic workers attend vocational schools here.

            Also volunteering and involvement in organizations from sports clubs to the Red Cross/Lions/Kiwanis is extremely common. Everyone takes part. It helps create debate and involvement on issues and politics from local to national levels. Remember, it's a "socialist" country.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Daimanta (1140543)

              "You do realize we do not have polar bears in our streets?"

              Bummer, that's one country I won't be going to on my vacation.

        • You forgot to mention that the subsidies mostly go to newspapers that our old overlords like. They even admit it them self: Ottar Grepstad, the leader of Kulturrådet, said to the extreme left newspaper Kalssekampen that he is happy to be called "highest editor"* [klassekampen.no] (article in Norwegian) when he removed the subsidies for papers he didn't like**. One of the newspapers loosing the subsidies, the Christian Right newspaper Norge IDAG*** said [idag.no] it quite well: (my translation) "It's not that we believe the state

    • by mckinnsb (984522)

      I would refine your observation with the following: European Newspapers aren't just trying to establish ownership of the underlying information, they are trying to:

      1. fundamentally change the way it is packaged to their proposal, after a free market decided against said proposal
      2. fundamentally change the medium of delivery, and then force everyone else to use it a la 1)
      3. foist all the costs onto either a) the search engine companies b) the taxpayer or c) the government (which ultimately leads to a or b anyway)

      .

      T

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PPNSteve (1287174)
      I have 'news' for you;
      News is NOT IP it is facts of something real or that has happened. No company or agency "owns' the news. (only their telling of said news is 'owned' by them, not the news itself.)

      You can't copyright facts.
      • by Ihlosi (895663)
        News is NOT IP it is facts of something real or that has happened.

        The representatives of several tabloids would like to have a word with you.

  • TFA refers to it as "Draconian Automated Content Access Protocol", we also have Draconian DRM and Draconian Internet Filters. See Draconian always makes me think of Dracula, which makes me think of the cereal Count Chacula which forces me to go up and eat some. Imagine doing this every time you read an article on DRM. Needless to say I'm putting on weight and the womens are no longer responding. So I would appreciate it if someone could come up with a new word.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tynam (1284066)
      Because Draconian [wikipedia.org] is the correct adjective for laws which demand disproportionate punishments for minor offences.

      Vampires, sadly, have nothing to do with it. Although, most articles on DRM make me want to impale someone, so I suppose there's a connection.

  • Just another special privilege which the government will grant to special interests and the less-free-with-each-passing-moment market will be blamed for.
  • You want to ban all your propaganda, misinformation, FUD, press-releases in disguise, and advertisements in disguise from the net, unless someone pays a way too expensive price for it?

    Well... go ahead! :D

    I will go read some RSS news from blogs in the meantime. :)

  • moves detrimental against people by interest groups that are no different than french nobility, can be countered by moves like french revolution. totally boycott their profit making instruments, refuse to have to do anything with them, ignore their existence, and name your reason. this teaches them not to limit people's freedoms for their own profit.

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