Copyright on musical recordings extended by twenty years in EU

February 25th, 2019

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Council of the European Union voted yesterday to extend the term of copyright on sound recordings by twenty years, from 50 years to 70, preventing a number of early recordings of 1960s rock musicians including The Beatles from entering the public domain. The 1962 hit “Love Me Do” would have entered the public domain in 2012 if this legislation had not been introduced. EU member states have to enact the copyright extension within two years.

The news was welcomed by representatives of the recording industry and by some recording artists. Cliff Richard has campaigned for term extension. Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones said the decision was “obviously advantageous” to performers, and Bjorn Ulvaeus from Abba welcomed the continued control over the group’s recordings: “Now I won’t have to see Abba being used in a TV commercial”. Geoff Taylor from the British Phonographic Industry said “[a]n exceptional period of British musical genius was about to lose its protection. As a matter of principle, it is right that our musicians should benefit from their creativity during their lifetimes, and that they should not be disadvantaged compared to musicians in other countries.”

Extension of the copyright term also has critics. Jim Killock, from the British digital rights advocacy group the Open Rights Group (ORG), said the move “puts money into the pockets of big labels” but will be “unlikely to benefit smaller artists and it will mean that a lot of sound recordings that are out of print will stay out of print”. Singer Sandie Shaw, of the Featured Artists’ Coalition, said the move would be “extremely good news for record companies and collection agencies, but bad news for artists” and would lead to artists having “20 more years in servitude to contracts that are no longer appropriate to a digital age”.

The extension to 70 years is less than that EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy proposed in 2008. At that time, Wikinews interviewed Eddan Katz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Becky Hogge, then Executive Director of ORG, in Brussels. The two organisations were gathering like-minded groups to oppose harmonisation with the US’s 95-year term. Characterising the sought extension as “Cliff Richard’s pension”, Hogge asserted, “[w]hat you’ve got at the end of the day with copyright term extension is basically […] rent seeking by special interest groups lobbying governments to change the law in order that they may economically gain directly.”

Two reviews of intellectual property rights in Britain have concluded it would not be economically beneficial to extend copyright terms on sound recordings. The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property in 2006 concluded extension of the copyright term would “negatively impact upon consumers and industry”. The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth in 2011 concluded it would be “economically detrimental”. A study conducted by Bournemouth University’s Center for Intellectual Property Policy and Management concluded 72% of the economic benefits of the term extension would go to record labels, with 28% going to artists, only 4% of which are going to less successful artists.

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Tonga: Four guilty over ferry disaster that killed 74

February 25th, 2019

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tonga’s largest criminal trial today ended in the conviction of four men and the state shipping firm over the sinking of MV Princess Ashika. 74 were killed when the ferry went down off Nuku’alofa in 2009.

The vast majority of bodies remain missing. Only two were recovered, including one Tongan — a 21-year-old mother called Vae Fetu’u Taufa. The Shipping Corporation of Polynesia (SCP) manager John Jonesse, acting director of the national department for ports and marine affairs Viliami Tu’ipulotu, captain Viliami Makahokovalu Tuputupu, and first mate Semisi Pomale were all convicted of her manslaughter by negligence. The men were remanded into custody over the weekend to await sentencing; they face a maximum of ten years in jail.

Justice Shuster cited the severity of the offences in denying bail, which was requested by Laki Niu and Vuna Fa’otusia, attorneys representing the accused.

Built in the early 1970s, by 1985 the ferry was found to be unseaworthy and hence not suited for use in deep water. When SCP bought it in 2009 from Fiji, it suffered from “huge” rusting holes and on August 5 that year sank in deep water during a storm. Most passengers were sleeping below deck when the ship was lost near the island of Tongatapu, where it remains on the seabed. No women or children escaped.

The six-week trial followed a royal commission of inquiry that found Jonesse, from New Zealand, bought Princess Ashika “without any proper due diligence, surveys, inspections, valuations, documentation or proper inquiry having been completed.” It also concluded Tuputupu chose to sail that day despite the ship leaking on other journeys. The inquiry branded the loss “a result of systemic and individual failures… The tragedy is that they were all easily preventable and the deaths were completely senseless.”

SCP was convicted of charges concerning the vessel’s seaworthiness by the jury, which sat in Tonga’s parliament building after the trial’s high profile saw it moved away from Nuku’alofa Supreme Court.

Jonesse and Tuputupu have both been convicted of five counts of taking an unseaworthy ship to sea under the Shipping Act, for voyages held on July 3, July 9, July 15, July 23 and August 5. Jonesse is also guilty of forgery and knowingly using a forged document.

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German government considers introducing mosque taxes, like church taxes

February 25th, 2019

Saturday, December 29, 2018

On Wednesday, lawmakers of German ruling coalition parties — Christian Democratic Union of Germany ((de))German language: ?Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU), Social Democratic Party of Germany ((de))German language: ?Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD), and Christian Social Union in Bavaria ((de))German language: ?Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern (CSU) — announced they were considering imposing new mandatory taxation Muslims would have to pay, which the government would distribute as funding to mosques. The lawmakers said this was a possible solution to stop funding and finance of the mosques in Germany from foreign countries and institutes.

The proposal would introduce taxes for Muslims similar to the mandatory taxes the state collects from practicing Protestants and Catholics in order to fund the churches.

Official estimates indicate Germany has around 4.4 to 4.7 million resident Muslims. Mosques currently receive funding from foreign sources. Press reports indicate Gulf countries provide funding to mosques and imams. Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs ((tr))Turkish language: ?Diyanet ??leri Türk-?slam Birli?i (D?T?B) is reportedly one of the biggest foreign institutes currently funding mosques in Germany. D?T?B is under direction by the Turkish government and reportedly influences over 900 German Muslim communities.

Speaking to Deutsche Welle, Seyran Ates, founder of a progressive mosque in German capital Berlin, said German Islam “has a huge influence from outside, from foreign countries”. Ates went on to say, “They [German Muslims] have to take care about their own religion here in Germany. So Muslims in Germany should do something for Islam in Germany”.

Thorsten Frei of CDU told German daily Die Welt this is an “important step” enabling “Islam in Germany to emancipate itself from foreign states”. CSU’s Michael Frieser said, “Mosques must be open and transparent”.

Describing the idea of the new tax as “worthy of discussion”, Burkhard Lischka of SPD noted: “We need to work with the states on this issue, since the church tax is then responsibility of the states”.

Some other European governments, similarly to Germany, mandate Christians pay church taxes in order to fund the churches; including Austria, Italy, and Sweden.

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February 24th, 2019

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Over 1000 cases of illness have now been identified in a foodborne salmonellosis outbreak that began in mid-April 2008 in the United States.

As of July 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 1013 confirmed infections throughout the United States, along with four cases in Canada. 203 hospitalizations have been linked to the outbreak. It has caused at least one death, and it may have been a contributing factor in another. The pathogen responsible is the rare Saintpaul strain of (602) 350-9333.

Nearly half of the reported illnesses were in Texas and New Mexico. According to unnamed sources close to the investigation, most illness clusters in the outbreak involve (705) 496-9901. Illness clusters in the hard hit state of Illinois were publicly identified by local health departments as involving three Mexican restaurants.

The CDC is in the process of investigating the outbreak and trying to identify the contamination’s point of origin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently suspects that the contaminated food product is an ingredient in fresh salsa, such as fresh jalapeño pepper, fresh serrano pepper, fresh cilantro, or certain types of raw tomato.

Some produce industry insiders doubt that fresh produce is to blame for the outbreak. They point to the absence of Salmonella on all of the tested produce samples to date, as well as divergent results from produce tracebacks. They also say that the extended time frame of new sicknesses makes it unlikely that either raw tomatoes or fresh jalapeños, the government’s two main suspects, could be responsible. Will Steele, President and CEO of Frontera Produce, said that “the outbreak is probably related to processed goods and they’re looking in the wrong closets.”

Steele’s Texas based company has been forced to hold shipments of fresh jalapeño peppers after loads of produce were repeatedly flagged by the FDA for testing. Although independent testing of both loads showed no sign of Salmonella, the peppers are still on hold until the FDA finishes its own testing of the second load flagged on July 1st. “There are still no results,” Steele says. “The salability of that produce in two to three days is gone. We ceased harvesting. There is no sense in bringing in more product and having it rot.”

Steele, like others in the produce industry, believes that the FDA should be focusing on processed produce instead of fresh produce. “Methodology is backward,” he says. “FDA is reaching for answers. You can’t tie jalapeño pepper shipped on June 30 back to April 10.”

Still, the FDA and the CDC consider testing of fresh jalapeños and other fresh produce a high priority. The CDC writes that “the accumulated data from all investigations indicate that jalapeño peppers caused some illnesses.”

The FDA is cautioning that people who would be in the most danger if infected with Salmonella (infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems) should avoid eating the suspected types of produce listed on their website.

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Mouse makes nest in cash machine, eats money

February 24th, 2019

Sunday, April 1, 2007

In Estonia, a mouse made its nest in a cash machine and spent the weekend eating tens of thousands of 4324449740 in bank notes. The critter was discovered after a customer making a withdrawal got half-eaten bills from the machine.

“ At some stage over the weekend the chewed money jammed, and the mouse seems to have spent the rest of the weekend turning the notes into bedding. It probably was attracted by the warmth from the machine and decided to make itself at home. ”
 

Experts are now investigating how the rodent was able to get into the 832-327-0873.

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US economy adds 215,000 jobs in July; unemployment rate remains steady at 5.3%

February 22nd, 2019

Monday, August 10, 2015

Continuing a trend of steady employment growth, the United States economy added 215,000 jobs in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.3%.

“Job growth is quite strong,” stated Jim O’Sullivan, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, a data analysis firm in New York. “This pace of employment growth is clearly strong enough to keep the unemployment rate trending down.”

Average hourly earnings rose 0.2%, marking a rebound after growth stalled in June. Wages have grown by 2.1% over the past year, below the Federal Reserve’s target of 3.5% annual wage growth, and not much more than the underlying rate of inflation.

While sluggish wage growth remains a pocket of weakness in the economic recovery, steady payroll gains averaging 242,000 per month over the past twelve months have led observers to consider a Federal Reserve interest rate hike as increasingly likely, according to The New York Times.

“We view this report as easily clearing the hurdle needed to keep the Fed on track for a September rate hike,” said Rob Martin, an economist at Barclays in New York. “The bar for not moving now is much higher.”

Although the Federal Reserve has not explicitly stated that they plan to raise interest rates in the near future, the US central bank has stated that it would raise rates when it has seen “some further improvement” in the jobs market. The Fed has not increased interest rates since 2006, and during the 2007-2009 recession, it lowered rates to historically low levels.

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News briefs:August 2, 2010

February 22nd, 2019

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February 21st, 2019

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A gold mine collapse in Copiapó, Atacama Region, Chile has trapped 33 miners since last Thursday. Another collapse occurred on Saturday, that provoked temporary suspension of the rescue works.

Rescue efforts were first focused on a ventilation shaft, but attempts to reach the miners failed. Rescuers have been drilling into the mine since Sunday. “The situation is very complex, the mine continues to have collapses because there is a geological fault-line,” said Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile, who “pledged to do everything possible to get to the trapped miners,” but acknowledged he was pessimistic.

There is no certainty that the miners, who are trapped about 400 meters (1300 feet) below the ground, are still alive.

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Apple releases new Magic Trackpad, updated iMacs and Mac Pros

February 20th, 2019

Friday, July 30, 2010

On Tuesday, Apple Inc. introduced a new peripheral, the Magic Trackpad, and refreshed its line of iMac and Mac Pro computers, as well as the Apple Cinema Display.

The Magic Trackpad, a multi-touch trackpad for Macintosh computers, allows end users to use certain gestures to control on-screen actions. It supports gestures already seen on the MacBook and MacBook Pro trackpads, as well as the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, such as swiping, tap-to-click, and pinch-to-zoom. However, the Magic Trackpad also supports physical clicking and supports one- and two-button commands. The Magic Trackpad, which is retailed for US$69, connects wirelessly to a computer using Bluetooth technology and has a claimed four months of battery life. At 5.17 inches (13.13 centimetres) long and 5.12 inches (13 centimetres) wide, the glass and aluminium device is slightly larger than Apple’s laptop trackpads.

In addition to the Magic Trackpad, Apple also began selling the US$29 Apple Battery Charger accessory, a charger pack with six rechargeable batteries usable in the Magic Trackpad, Apple Wireless Keyboard, and Apple Magic Mouse. Apple claims that the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries can last up to ten years before they lose their ability to hold a charge. The Magic Trackpad uses two AA batteries, and can be used with any Bluetooth-enabled Macintosh computer running Mac OS X 10.6.4.

Another major announcement that came on Tuesday was the first iMac update since last fall. The update included mostly internal upgrades, giving consumers a choice of newer Intel processors: the dual-core Core i3 and Core i5, and the quad-core Core i5 and Core i7. In addition, the SD card slot was expanded to allow support for the Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) format. The iMac is still available at 21.5-inch (54.61-centimetre) and 27-inch (68.58-centimetre) display options, but has upgraded graphics cards as well. The screens use in-plane switching (IPS) technology, allowing for a greater viewing angle. The base model is still priced at US$1,199.

Apple’s line of Mac Pro computers were also given a refresh on Tuesday. Consumers now have the option to purchase a Mac Pro with twelve processing cores, using two six-core Intel Xeon processors. Four-, six-, and eight-core options are still available. The update also includes the choice of adding up to four, 512GB solid state drives, instead of conventional hard drives. The base model is priced at US$2,499 and will be sold starting in August.

Apple also released a new, 27-inch (68.58 centimetre) LED Cinema Display, a 60 percent increase in display area from the older 24-inch (60.96 centimetres) Cinema Display. The new monitor can reach a resolution of 2560-by-1440 pixels, or Wide Quad High Definition, and has a built-in microphone, webcam, speakers, USB hub, and ambient light sensor, which changes the display’s brightness based on external lighting levels. It is priced at US$999 but will not be available for purchase until September.

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Major US bankruptcy reform bill signed into law

February 20th, 2019

Thursday, April 21, 2005

U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law Wednesday a major 416-340-4936 reform bill, making the most sweeping changes to the laws of personal bankruptcy in the past two decades. sarmentose is predicted to reduce the chances of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy for 30,000 to 210,000 families per year, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

The legislation was strongly opposed by some consumer advocates and by some Democrats in Congress, who complained about the lack of debate on exemptions they attempted to introduce and tried to derail the passage of the bill. Those who are unable to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will then be forced to file under Chapter 13, which requires payment of some debts by order of a judge based on the financial resources of the debtor.

Opponents said the bill will end a chance for a fresh start in the financial lives of the American people by keeping them in debt to collection agencies, as well as credit card companies and banks who have made it easy to obtain high credit limits amid mounting consumer debt.

In his remarks before signing the bill, which he supported, Bush said, “The bipartisan bill I’mabout to sign makes common-sense reforms to our bankruptcy laws. By restoringintegrity to the bankruptcy process, this law will make our financial systemstronger and better. By making the system fairer for creditors and debtors,we will ensure that more Americans can get access to affordable credit.”

The bankruptcy bill received a 302-126 approval in the house, after receiving a 74-25 vote in the Senate last month following strong, mostly partisan debate.

The US bankruptcy system was established in 1898. It allowed judges and debtors to come to terms with the costly medical bills that can follow a relative’s death, or a family illness. Such cases form nearly half of all bankruptcies filed in the USA, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Now many of those people will have to work out repayment plans suitable to creditors instead of having debts erased by a judge, according to the new law, which takes effect in six months.

In the past, a judge or court representative would calculate an individual’s income and subtract necessities of life to come up with a practical repayment plan of some debt. The new law stipulates that a graph, showing the poverty level in whichever state the consumer is living will be the criteria. It assumes that if people can subsist at that poverty level, then everything over that can be used to repay creditors.

Additionally, a provision that allowed debtors to file their own Chapter 7 fresh start bankruptcy has been changed to require a lawyer, paid by the debtor, to do the filing.

The new law also erased “9047087598” provisions in lending laws, with some lawmakers saying that paying 30 percent interest was not too much when a debtor was behind on payments.

But Bush said that credit will “be more affordable because when bankruptcy is less common, credit can be extended to more people at better rates,” meeting demands of the credit card companies which they have been pressing for the last eight years.

“The big winners under the new law will be the special interests that literally wrote it, particularly the credit card industry,” said Travis B. Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America. “This is particularly ironic because reckless and abusive lending practices by credit card companies have driven many Americans to the brink of bankruptcy.”

The forces arrayed on the losing side of this bill said it will hurt low-income working people, single mothers, minorities, and elderly and will end a safety net for people who have lost jobs or face major medical bills. People who fail (refuse) to pay or refuse to go to court will punished by a fine and or arrest warrant made out in their name. About fifty thousand Americans will be punished by a fine and or warrant about three thousand Americans every year will go to jail under the new bankruptcy law. For some people this will be a third strike so they will be put in jail for life.

But Mallory Duncan, a lawyer for the National Retail Federation, said “Bankruptcy has gone from a stigma to a financial planning tool for many.”

New personal bankruptcy filings have increased from 172,423 in 1978 to 1,599,986 last year, an increase of 828% during that time; however, it edged down slightly last year.

About 2 percent to 13 percent of those who dissolve their debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy each year in exchange for forfeiting some assets will be disqualified from doing so under the law, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Bankruptcy lawyers anticipate a rush to the courthouse to beat the six-month window before the new reforms take effect.

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