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Google Embraces ‘Soft’ Censorship

Posted in Videos at 3:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MOAR censorship!


Summary: The advent of censorship even in so-called “open” channels that label themselves deceivingly in order to suggest they are users-driven

WHEN Google deletes several links per second for copyright reasons (as currently reported by some sites), then it’s hard to argue that Google engages in “censorship” per se. When Google deletes a video for copyright reasons, then too it is hard to label it censorship. But when Google changes the order of comments (potentially moving them out of existence/visibility) based on anonymity and so-called ‘reputation’ of commenters, then it is akin to censorship. Google does this right now [1]. This isn’t like the ‘hard’ censorship that Lessig has just encountered [2], but it is still a form of censorship.

All across Europe there is a new hot trend of censorship. Politicians try to sell us that idea that censoring particular ideas is a good thing [3], as if they have just come back from a long trip in China where they found inspiration.

Any act of demoting or removing a point of view is pretty much a case of censorship. We are not obliged to respond to people whom we do not agree with, but trying to make their views vanish is nothing to be proud about; it is a source of shame and proof of our weakness or insecurity. Google is going down the slippery slope when it comes to free speech.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. YouTube gets the yuck out in comments cleanup

    He explained that three main factors determine which comments are more relevant: community engagement by the commenter, up-votes for a particular comment, and commenter reputation. If you’ve been flagged for spam or abuse, don’t be surprised to find your comments buried, but that also means that celebrities who have strong Google+ reputations will be boosted above others.

  2. CVS.com, cleansed

    I bought a product at CVS online. They emailed me a request that I review the product on their site. I did. I didn’t like the product, but I complied with every single requirement for comments. Today I got a polite email telling me they had rejected my comment. When I clicked on the link to “contact us,” 404’d.

  3. Opinion: Free Speech

    In an age full of consistent threats of Internet censorship, among the other forms of opposition to freedom of speech and expression I have described, it is about time particularly in Britain, throughout Europe and across democratic nations that we drive a legal change, bringing protection of this essential liberty at least closer in value lawfully to its status in the United States. While as I have shown the First Amendment is often unhelpful even there, the forming of laws and being able to reference them is helpful in the establishment of free speech as a core and definite requirement throughout human civilisation, for drawing a line on what may be said, written or even caricatured will always end with the imprisonment of historians who deny the Holocaust, with the arrest of citizens for voicing opinions on Twitter and with the Vietnamese people being told they may exchange only “personal information” online. So my final point would be in the form of a question, should you remain unconvinced. If you believe a line on free speech ought to be drawn, I ask you to consider the following: Is there a single person or organisation to whom you would designate and allow the task of deciding, for you, what you can read and what you can hear from a fellow member of the human species? Personally, I insist I obtain the right to read, hear, think and decide on matters for myself.


SFLC Refutes OSI President’s Claim, Says WebM Licence is Still Fine (Updatedx3)

Posted in Google, GPL, Videos at 9:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: VP8 is freedom-respecting even after the deal with a patent troll, according to a leading authority in this area

The SFLC, a recognised authority in the area of free (as in freedom) licences, analysed the licence (draft) of VP8 following the MPEG-LA deal, refuting what Simon Phipps had said [1, 2].

“Mr. Phipps is not hostile towards Free software. He even uses this term despite being the head of the “open source” camp.”The announcement says: “SFLC, like its client the Free Software Foundation, believes that software standing alone should not be patentable subject matter. We join skeptics of the VP8 license and the broader FOSS community in rejecting software patents in all forms, and we will continue to oppose them. But until software patents no longer threaten FOSS, we will look for every opportunity to preserve community development from their destructive effects. The VP8 cross-license provides such an opportunity, in an area of particularly active patenting. It’s not perfect, but no other modern web video format provides nearly the same degree of protection for FOSS implementations.”

Pamela Jones notes: “This is important news, because there have been several articles claiming the opposite, and it’s good to be precise and careful. It’s why I waited until the Software Freedom Law Center could tell us whether Google’s VP8 patent cross-license is or is not compatible with FOSS licensing.”

Mr. Phipps is not hostile towards Free software. He even uses this term despite being the head of the “open source” camp. A response from him might therefore be imminent, maybe a “mea culpa“.

Update: Mr. Phipps has clarified his position by stating: “I just had a long talk with Aaron and we actually agree. I said that if it were part of a license it would render the license non-free. He agrees, but points out that it’s not part of a license and further that the clauses of GPLv3 that deal with patent license have a loophole that makes Google’s patent license technically OK.

“I still maintain that the Google license needs a great big sign over it saying “we don’t think you actually need this, it’s just to stop OEMs and pro-patent lowlife saying there’s a problem”.

Update #2: This new report from The H takes Phipps’ reaction into account. Privately, or rather publicly (available for viewing in Twitter/Identi.ca [1, 2, 3]) in a few exchanges with Phipps, I was told a couple of times that Microsoft Florian was behind some of the smears against him.

Update #3: Phipps has just published “Google’s VP8 codec license is OK after all” over at IDG.


How Richard Stallman Started GNU Project

Posted in FSF, Videos at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New audio from Swapnil Bhartiya


How Patent Trolls Kill Innovation (New Video)

Posted in Patents, Videos at 12:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A new video about patent trolls


Stallman Speaks About Ubuntu

Posted in FSF, Ubuntu, Videos at 8:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Stallman speaks about Canonical’s distribution of GNU/Linux in new interview


Eben Moglen – How To Retrofit The First Law Of Robotics (HOPE 9, 2012)

Posted in Videos at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Eben Moglen’s recent talk which is important in light of news about phones becoming illegal to jailbreak


2013 Richard Stallman Talk

Posted in FSF, Videos at 8:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New Richard Stallman talk just published by the FSF


EU Endorses Free/Open Source Software, GNU/Linux, and Open Standards (New Video)

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Videos at 7:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kroes has published this new video. Direct link

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