Kellia’s World – Recommended Reading

Challenging the assumptions we live by — Because I want to.

Posts Tagged ‘Internet Censorship’

Fox News Censors Political Expression

Posted by kelliasworld on January 13, 2009

January 7th, 2009

Commentary by Corynne McSherry

In a scenario that has become depressingly familiar, a news organization has again used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to censor legitimate political speech. Citizen Media Law Project reports that YouTube cancelled Progress Illinois’ YouTube channel after Fox News had sent three notices of copyright infringement demanding the takedown of Progress Illinois’ videos. In the videos, Progress Illinois, a union-sponsored blog, apparently used short clips of Fox News coverage of local and national political events to set up political commentary about those events. Progress Illinois sent a counternotice asking YouTube to restore the video, but that won’t happen for several days, i.e. long after public interest in the event Progress Illinois is talking about has waned.

We haven’t been able to view the videos, but from what we’ve heard it seems likely that the uses in question were fair, and therefore noninfringing. If so, it is especially shameful that a news organization, which itself depends heavily on fair use to do its own reporting and commentary, should ignore fair use and thereby chill the free speech of others. Moreover, Fox News may have lost sight of its own best interest in another way. As CMLP put it:

Fox’s heavy-handed response to Progress Illinois’ use of its clips highlights the network’s myopic view of the media ecosystem in which it operates. Rather than seeing Progress Illinois as a competitor attempting to steal website traffic from WFLD-TV, the network should be grateful that its political coverage is generating buzz in the blogosphere.

It’s also disappointing that YouTube hasn’t already restored the videos. When similar shenanigans took down campaign videos by Senators McCain and Obama during the presidential election season, we called on YouTube to take steps to protect online speech, among them human review of videos that have been subject to a counternotice, and immediate restoration of videos that are clearly noninfringing fair uses.

Fox News bears the primary blame here, but we’ve said it before and it bears repeating: the Internet can continue to revitalize our political lives in exciting and unforeseen ways—if, and only if, service providers, users and content owners all do their parts to protect free speech.

http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/01/fox-news-censors-political-expression

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Google Censors uruknet.info

Posted by kelliasworld on January 11, 2009

From uruknet.info, an Italian and English news source about occupied Iraq.

January 10, 2009

As our readers know, on April 24, 2008 Google stopped indexing Uruknet.info as a news source. It was the fourth time that Google discontinues indexing Uruknet. The previous times google had reinstated it following many complaints sent in by our readers. The last time there was nothing to be done: in a first moment google news wouldn’t even answer to our emails and, at last, after about ten days has answered with a series of lies.

Hi Enzo, Thank you for your note. We received numerous complaints from users about your site and after reviewing it we’ve found that we could no longer include it in Google News. We currently don’t include sites that are primarily news aggregators, and we weren’t able to find any stories on your site that weren’t from outside sources. We apologize for any inconvenience this situation may cause. Please be assured that we’ll log your site for future consideration should our requirements change Thanks for your interest in Google News. Regards, The Google Team

Of course, they were only excuses.

1) The Google Team did not say which kind of complaints they received and from whom;

2) The Google Team wrote: “we weren’t able to find any stories on your site that weren’t from outside sources”. Probably The Google Team didn’t look up carefully since Uruknet publishes regularly original articles. Moreover, many articles we publish are sent us by their authors for publication and Uruknet links to their blogs and websites for fairness.

3) The Google Team wrote “We currently don’t include sites that are primarily news aggregators.” This is patently false because Google News does include a lot of websites that are primarily or exclusively news aggregators. While a few of them hide the original source, most of them openly quote the link to the original source as we do.

4) Finally, being this the fourth time just in a couple of years Google News stopped indexing Uruknet.info, we acknowledge that every single time Google gave us a different reason.

When we pointed out to the Google Team that google.news does index hundreds news aggregators, some of those even publishes (quoting the link to the original source) original articles from uruknet, google.news wrote us, asking us to send them reports on websites that in our opinion were unduly indexed, almost as if we had asked other websites to be removed and not ours to be reindexed.

Obviously, due to uselessness and to the level of baseness achieved by google, the email exchange with the Google Team was ended.

Anyway, censorship carried out by google towards uruknet wasn’t restricted to this: subsequently google.com also started to delete uruknet’s articles previously indexed.

As odd it may seem, it’s as if someone inside Google deletes indexed articles. Currently, google.com indexes 7,000 pages of uruknet.info against 130,255 indexed by yahoo (and 1,630 pages of the mirroring website uruknet.de against 23,278 indexed by yahoo ).

It even seems that google mail has blacklisted the name of uruknet: when we repeatedly tried to submit uruknet.info to Google Blog Search for inclusion we didn’t even receive the usual automatic email.

A this point, we were sure that “someone” had asked google to carry out a total censorship on uruknet: the few pages still indexed by google.com are an obvious trick used in order to disguise censorship and not making it immediately evident to any user.

Anyhow, we needed a proof, and we achieved it easily: we arranged two new websites, one in Italian and the other in English, respectively Notizie dal Medio Oriente and News from Middle East, that are in fact perfect mirrorings of uruknet, with a few graphic changes, and we put them directly on the same server where uruknet is located.

After that we requested google.news to index them and after they analysed both websites, we obtained it without the least problem. Of course when the google.news guys will read this article, they will stop indexing Notizie dal Medio Oriente and News from Middle East, but we have saved a copy of google news pages: News from Middle East on google.news and Notizie dal Medio Oriente on news.google.it .

So, it was so clear since the very first moment, all the despicable excuses pleaded by google.news for having removed uruknet were lies google came up with in order to account for the censorship obviously pressed for by someone who didn’t like our website. All we needed was to change the name of the website leaving untouched form and substance and every problem was gone.

We don’t even want to make conjectures about who may have requested google.news to ban uruknet, though, obviously, it doesn’t seem so difficult to guess which political setting could put pressure on google in order to obtain censorship of our website.

Whoever did it, actually, we have now proved that google, the main search engine in the world – or, at least some people inside the Google Team – delists websites on request, and then makes clumsy attempts to justify the censorship operation with some excuses and lies invented on the spot. It is quite clear that the gravity of this matter goes way beyond google.news’ censorship of our website. In our case, undoubtfully censorship was due to political reasons but, since this is the way google behaves, we can easily imagine that, if “duly” pressed, google may censor (and supposedly has already censored) – and, like in our case, also blacklist – websites that are unwelcome for any reason to who is powerful or important enough or has suitable instruments of pressure.
We’ll forward this text to all internet and anti-censorship organizations. In the meanwhile, we ask our readers to send us (at the following address < URUK@INTERNET-FREEDOM.ORG > ) notice about all cases of censorship carried out by google : of course we will publish them on our website.

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