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January 31, 2015

Conductor Israel Yinon dies after collapsing on stage

Conductor Israel Yinon dies after collapsing on stage

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

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Yinnon in 2003
Image: Etan J. Tal.

Conductor Israel Yinon died yesterday after collapsing during a performance in Switzerland. The Israeli conductor was directing an orchestra in the city of Lucerne when he suddenly collapsed and fell head first off of the platform. No official cause of death has been announced. He was 59 years old.

Yinon collapsed during the performance of German composer Richard Strauss‘s An Alpine Symphony. An audience member attended to him while others were asked to leave the Lucerne Culture and Convention Centre and musicians exited. Yinon’s girlfriend was playing in the orchestra when he collapsed.

Yinnon was known for showcasing the works of composers killed in the Holocaust. He highlighted symphonies from those such as Pavel Haas and Viktor Ullmann. Through this he gained international recognition including his award of the German critics’ recording prize in 1993. He went on to conduct the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra.

Speaking about the work of those composers who became victims of the Holocaust, Yinnon was quoted as saying “Without the Second World War, new music would have sounded quite different.”

Despite his international success he never achieved similar critical acclaim in his home country of Israel. Speaking to the Ynet news website his cousin Yisrael Ganor said “In Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic he was very successful with this material, whereas in Israel he was rarely invited [to conduct]. Once someone famous told him — I don’t remember if it was a musician or journalist — that they would only invite him if there was no one else, or if the budgetary constraints couldn’t cover someone well known.”

Tributes have been paid to the conductor including one from the Jungen Philharmonie Zentralschweiz student orchestra. They said they lost “not only a highly regarded musical colleague and sensitive educator, but a big-hearted friend.” Yinnon had conducted them in 2009 and 2012 concerts.



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July 14, 2009

British conductor Edward Downes and wife die in double assisted suicide

British conductor Edward Downes and wife die in double assisted suicide

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

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The Sydney Opera House where Sir Edward conducted the opening public performance
Image: Mfield, Matthew Field.

British conductor Sir Edward Downes and his wife Joan took their lives at a Swiss assisted suicide clinic on Friday, July 10, 2009, according to a statement from their family. Lady Downes, 74, was afflicted with terminal cancer, and Sir Edward, 85, was nearly blind with increasing hearing difficulties. These disabilities had forced him to give up conducting. Having no religious beliefs, the couple decided against holding a funeral.

The statement read, “After 54 happy years together, they decided to end their own lives rather than continue to struggle with serious health problems. They died peacefully, and under circumstances of their own choosing, with the help of the Swiss organisation, Dignitas, in Zurich.”

Many who knew the couple as friends said that Sir Edward was not terminally ill, but wanted to die with his wife, who he had been with for more than 50 years.

Sir Edward Downes’s children, in an interview with The London Evening Standard, said they escorted their parents to Zurich, and on that Friday, they watched in tears as their parents consumed “a small quantity of clear liquid,” and then proceeded to lie down together, holding hands.

“Within a couple of minutes they were asleep, and died within 10 minutes,” said their 41 year old son, Caractacus Downes.

Sir Edward was well respected in the operatic and orchestral worlds and was particularly noted for his performances of British and Russian music and of Verdi, conducting 25 of the composer’s 28 operas. He had a long association with the Royal Opera House, where he conducted for more than 50 seasons in succession. This did not stop him from refusing to conduct a series of performances of Verdi’s Nabucco there as he was “out of sympathy” with the adventurous production. His approach to conducting was similarly conservative. He wrote “The duty of a conductor should be to present… a faithful and accurate account of the composer’s music as he wrote it, disregarding any subsequent ‘interpretations’, ‘meanings’, or political agendas that may have been attached to it by others.”

It was on Friday, 28 September, 1973, that Sir Edward conducted the opening public performance at the Sydney Opera House, a staging of Prokofiev’s War and Peace by Opera Australia, of which he was musical director. Downes also served as chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Orchestra and principal conductor of the BBC Philharmonic.

The family reported that Lady Downes “started her career as a ballet dancer and subsequently worked as a choreographer and TV producer, before dedicating the last years of her life to working as our father’s personal assistant.”

The Metropolitan Police have announced that Greenwich CID are investigating the circumstances of the couple’s deaths. Assisting a suicide is illegal in the United Kingdom.

Over 100 people who wished to die have made the journey from Britain to Switzerland to take advantage of the clinical services that Dignitas offers. British police have investigated many of the resulting deaths, but no family member has yet been prosecuted for helping relatives negotiate with Dignitas and travel to Switzerland. Debbie Purdy, a woman with multiple sclerosis, attempted last year to obtain a ruling from the English High Court that family members would not be prosecuted for helping someone use the service, and in particular that her husband would not be charged should she decide to use Dignitas in future. The court refused as it believed that such clarification is the responsibility of parliament and not the judiciary.

Last week the House of Lords rejected a proposal by former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer to allow people to help someone with a terminal illness travel to a country where assisted suicide is legal.


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October 9, 2008

Rap music fan sentenced to Beethoven, pays fine instead

Rap music fan sentenced to Beethoven, pays fine instead

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ludwig van Beethoven, a bust taken from his death mask.
Image: Expired photographic copyright held by W.J. Baker, 1898.

When 24-year-old Andrew Vactor of Urbana, Ohio, United States was convicted of violating the city’s noise ordinance, Judge Susan J. Fornof-Lippencott offered to reduce the normal fine of US$150 to $35 if he agreed to listen to 20 hours of classical music. Fifteen minutes into the sentence the rap music fan changed his mind and paid the full fine in order to end his probation.

The first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28, Op. 101
Audio: Original by Beethoven, this reproduction by Daniel Veesey.

The sentence would have included selections from Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Claude Debussy. Chief Probation Officer Glenda Runkle says the department keeps three CDs for this type of sentence.

Champaign County Municipal Court Judge Fornof-Lippencott told the Springfield News-Sun she often assigns creative sentencing options. “I think a lot of people don’t like to be forced to listen to music. And I think sometimes the defendants … are put in the position the general public is put in.” She also selects episodes of Dr. Phil and The Oprah Winfrey Show that she considers relevant to other misdemeanor offenses and supplies copies to the probation department. “The idea, hopefully, is that it will inspire people not to come back for the same violation. It offers an opportunity for them to cut down on their fines and costs and at the same time broaden their horizons.”

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Although Judge Fornof-Lippencott hopes these sentences “might enlighten defendants”, Vactor denied that musical taste played a role in his decision to pay the full fine. Vactor, a student at Urbana University, told reporters he needed to leave for basketball team practice. “I didn’t have the time to deal with that,” he said. “I just decided to pay the fine.”



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February 26, 2008

Lobby groups oppose plans for EU copyright extension

Lobby groups oppose plans for EU copyright extension

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

People from all over Europe came to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s party, which coincided with FOSDEM 2008.

The European Commission currently has proposals on the table to extend performers’ copyright terms. Described by Professor Martin Kretschmer as the “Beatles Extension Act”, the proposed measure would extend copyright from 50 to 95 years after recording. A vast number of classical tracks are at stake; the copyright on recordings from the fifties and early sixties is nearing its expiration date, after which it would normally enter the public domain or become ‘public property’. E.U. Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services Charlie McCreevy is proposing this extension, and if the other relevant Directorate Generales (Information Society, Consumers, Culture, Trade, Competition, etc.) agree with the proposal, it will be sent to the European Parliament.

Wikinews contacted Erik Josefsson, European Affairs Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (E.F.F.), who invited us to Brussels, the heart of E.U. policy making, to discuss this new proposal and its implications. Expecting an office interview, we arrived to discover that the event was a party and meetup conveniently coinciding with FOSDEM 2008 (the Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting). The meetup was in a sprawling city centre apartment festooned with E.F.F. flags and looked to be a party that would go on into the early hours of the morning with copious food and drink on tap. As more people showed up for the event it turned out that it was a truly international crowd, with guests from all over Europe.

Eddan Katz, the new International Affairs Director of the E.F.F., had come over from the U.S. to connect to the European E.F.F. network, and he gladly took part in our interview. Eddan Katz explained that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is “A non-profit organisation working to protect civil liberties and freedoms online. The E.F.F. has fought for information privacy rights online, in relation to both the government and companies who, with insufficient transparency, collect, aggregate and make abuse of information about individuals.” Another major focus of their advocacy is intellectual property, said Eddan: “The E.F.F. represents what would be the public interest, those parts of society that don’t have a concentration of power, that the private interests do have in terms of lobbying.”

Becky Hogge, Executive Director of the U.K.’s Open Rights Group (O.R.G.), joined our discussion as well. “The goals of the Open Rights Group are very simple: we speak up whenever we see civil, consumer or human rights being affected by the poor implementation or the poor regulation of new technologies,” Becky summarised. “In that sense, people call us -I mean the E.F.F. has been around, in internet years, since the beginning of time- but the Open Rights Group is often called the British E.F.F.

The interview

Cliff Richard’s pension

Becky explained to us that she was in Brussels to gather support for a European movement against this proposal. She pointed out to us that compelling economic evidence shows that this measure will not help the E.U. single market, and she hopes that other Directorates will oppose it once they get wind of this fact. We asked Becky Hogge to tell us about the new proposal and why she thinks it is not a good idea.

From left to right: Becky Hogge (Open Rights Group), Erik Joseffson (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Brian McNeil (Wikinews) and Eddan Katz (EFF, right).

Becky Hogge: The legislation we are talking about is about the copyright term, as in the length of time a piece of, in this case music, remains in copyright, and in particular the term for sound recorders. Apparently the term for that in the European Union is 50 years. That means that after 50 years, sound recordings enter the public domain. That’s the body of work that includes Shakespeare, Goethe, Bach, Beethoven, … the cultural heritage of human culture.”

In America the term is 95 years but in the U.K. the term is 50 years, and those in the recording industry and the performer’s union were getting together and going to the European Commission and saying ‘we would like the terms extended’. Now, in the U.K. we knew about copyright term extension. There’s a process by which governments say: ‘When this cartoon was drawn, we said that that could be in copyright for 45 years, but now it’s about to fall out of copyright, so we’ll give you another 45 years, or we’ll give you another 10 or another 20… and continually stopping those pieces of our cultural heritage from entering the public domain, along with their brothers Shakespeare, Mozart and Beethoven, like an afterlife in the public domain where we knew they could be mixed, they could be shared, and that they become a public part of our culture.

The reason why I think this is unfortunate, is because is actually, it’s very hard to see who gains from extension. Well, it’s very easy to see who gains from copyright extension on the one hand; those that are still mastering cultural iconography, you know, The Beatles back catalogue or if you are in possession of the Elvis back catalogue, or whatever it is, they’re all going to gain substantially from that. But if you think about what other sound recordings that were made at that time, all the other bits that were written, all the other plays that were written, not all of them are going to be successful 50 years after they were laid down, and it’s only a tiny minority of tracks that are going to be commercially successful.

Behind all of this info about copyright law, you need to know about the basics. Copyright law is about a balance, about a trade-off. Artists put a lot in to creating a piece of work, and once that piece has been created, in a sense, it’s very easy to replicate. So, Cliff Richard sings a song, and it’s very easy once he has sung this song, it’s laid down to be copied and copied and copied, unlike the making of a table or a shoe where you have to go back to the original creator to get a new pair. Copyright is a kind of monopoly that is granted to the creator so that they may get the revenue that they need, enough to incentivise[sic] them to make the initial work. So copyright is a trade-off between the interests of us, the public, the audience, human beings who need culture to survive and thrive, and artists who in order to make this culture need an incentive. In the law it is said that for a certain length of time, you have the rights to exploit this cultural product that has come from your loins and after that, it enters the public domain, and everyone enjoys it without restrictions.

What 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.
-Becky Hogge, Open Rights Group Executive Director (left).

Extending that term has a lot of implications. The first question that comes up is, you say: why? Are we going to incentivise Cliff Richards’ to record any more tracks in 1958? Clearly not, because it’s not 1958 any more. And then you ask yourself the second question: are you going to incentivise artists who are recording tracks now to record more tracks, because they have more incentive, because their monopoly over these neighbouring rights will be knocked up? Economists have looked at this and they say, ‘any rational act of making a decision does not look at what’s going to happen in 50 years time, let alone 95 years time, we simply don’t do this. So what you’ve got at the end of the day with copyright term extension is basically, and I hope this is not too bold, it’s basically rent seeking. It’s rent seeking by special interest groups lobbying governments to change the law in order that they may economically gain directly.

This is were you get to the sort of Cliff Richard argument with pension. Cliff Richard is a recording artist who didn’t write his own songs and will stop receiving royalty. You’ve got Cliff Richard saying ‘copyright is a pension for us’. There are artists that are saying 50 years after they’ve started their career, started recording, they’re old, they’re pensionable aged, they need their income and this royalty income is stopping. I simply don’t like that argument because every other citizen of the E.U. has contributed to their pension during their working life. This argument for me is really designed to do something very clever, which is exact sympathy from the general public for people who are already very rich. If you’re still getting royalties after 50 years, you are a very successful artist indeed.

Eddan Katz: There’s a strategy here that needs to be named, by copyright interests, major entertainment companies that have most to benefit from the extension of copyright without any incentive added; it’s a strategy to section it off, to make a story, and pinpoint one segment with that story in trying to justify an overall extension of copyright, which is particularly meant to profit and to remove works from the public domain that were set to be there. And also to really blind the pockets, and change the law in order to be able to raise the rent. It’s also being justified under harmonising; harmonising is used to justify a ratcheting up, it generally means more exclusive rights to be granted, and layered on top of existing exclusive rights. It’s not meant as harmonisation is intended to be, and as the European project is supposed to be, to find a way to create real markets. It’s not to justify the continuing increasing of exclusive rights as one specific theory about incentivising creativity when we see so much evidence that there’s a lot of creativity coming out of systems outside of long term exclusive rights.

Perpetual patents?

We raised the point that many common people also see copyright as a good thing and something that supports artists, while copyright violation has been said to have led to huge financial losses for the music industry.

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Cquote1.svg If the music industry continues to push this side of the bargain, all they do is to serve to grow people’s disrespect for the law even more, such that nobody wants to respect copyright any more. Cquote2.svg

—Becky Hogge (Open Rights Group)

Erik Josefsson: Copyright is like tax: ‘Taxes are good, so more taxes are better’. The man in the street would say ‘No’. ‘Okay, so you don’t want any taxes?’ ‘Oh no, I want taxes’, the man in the street is completely aware of its value, you have to have a common financial structure. The tradition of copyright, what is the purpose of copyright, is to strike a balance, to have a thriving cultural life.

Becky Hogge: If you think about what copyright does for the internet culture: if we didn’t have copyright, we wouldn’t have Creative Commons. Copyright is an incredibly sensible piece of law, and in fact serves to benefit a lot of what goes on online in the way that it’s been used in things like free and open software, in things like Creative Commons. These things wouldn’t exist without the framework of copyright law. I’m always very careful to say that copyright law is a benefit to society, but I think Erik’s comparison to taxes is spot on: it’s not about black and white.

Are the record companies sitting on their back catalogues because they can no longer earn the same income in the digital age? I think if they are doing that, I credited them with more intelligence than that. Because number one: what’s the point of having copyright when everyone is infringing them? It doesn’t matter if we have one record of the Beatles or if we have 500 records if everyone shares the one copy of the Beatles that we have already. So I would imagine that’s not why they’re doing this. And number two, and I think more fundamentally, actually what people inside the industry that I speak to are realising, is if they continue to push this side of the bargain, all they do is to serve to grow people’s disrespect for the law even more, such that nobody wants to respect copyright any more. If we see copyright as a law that is written on behalf of the recording industry for politicians, then -and this is not my point, this is Andrew Gowers’ point- you have to make the law something that people can understand and respect. You do that by making the balance right. Soon the recording industry, or some of them will see that if they continue doing this, they’re going to hurt themselves more.

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We also noted that the term public domain seems to have a more profound meaning in the United States, and that many Europeans don’t even know the term.

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Cquote1.svg After 95 years, is RCA really going to want to give up the Beatles then? Or will we get another extension to 150 years, or to 200 years, or to 250 years? What would the world look like if everything was in perpetual copyright or in a perpetual patent? What would have happened if the invention of fire was under a perpetual patent? I think we’d all still be living in caves. Cquote2.svg

—Becky Hogge, Open Rights Group

Eddan Katz: European civilisation had a lot of innovation and creativity before the legal mechanisms of copyright and patents were produced. There’s been a long history of productivity, innovation and creativity that has happened without a specific exclusive rights system. Talking about culture in Europe and that depth of history: the degree of which people do create and write on the shoulders of giants, they work off the great works that we know in history, build off of what was before, reference it and build on it, and that’s what makes it meaningful -that’s something that I think is particularly something to defend in Europe. You said that the terms public domain are foreign to Europeans: I’m actually trying to point out that the public domain existed in Europe before the concept of America existed.

Becky Hogge: If you imagine every time there was a school play, the nativity play, or the works of Shakespeare, or a concert was put on by Mozart… people have been taking advantage of the public domain a lot more than they realise. There’s so much that people do with the public domain every day, but they just don’t realise it. This is something I’ve thought about for a long time: I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a creator, I’m not a programmer, and so what is it about this debate that has gotten me into it. It’s this idea of what it would be like. Sound recordings are a good example: we didn’t really have great sound recordings until about 50 years ago. I see this move now to extend the term in sound recordings as just one of many. After 95 years, is RCA really going to want to give up the Beatles then? Or will we get another extension to 150 years, or to 200 years, or to 250 years? What would the world look like if everything was in perpetual copyright or in a perpetual patent? Even though we all accept that artists need to be given incentive, I think all fair humans have a natural ability to want to share knowledge. What would have happened if the invention of fire was under a perpetual patent? I think we’d all still be living in caves. I think there’s actually something in the balance between keeping stuff and sharing that keeps us human and keeps us developing and civilised and that’s my best argument at the moment towards the man on the street.

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The fight moves from the U.K. to Europe

We asked Becky Hogge to tell us the history behind this proposal from a U.K. perspective.

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EFF flags party.jpg

Becky Hogge: Where this started was back in 2006… well in fact even before that, the Labour government in the U.K. made a manifesto pledge to examine the issue of copyright term extension in a previous election. What that turned into is called the Gowers review of intellectual property. It actually got the most submissions to an independent review ever. There were a lot of submissions from the recording industry, and if I remember Andrew Gowers’ words specifically, he said they took the prize for the amount of submissions they got from the recording industry.

They were saying: we want this copyright extension now. I think what’s motivating it is a golden age of recorded sounds, seminal soul, rock and roll, reggae recordings, are about to enter the public domain; the recording industry recognises it, and recognises that actually they probably didn’t plan for this to happen in their own business models, they’re going to lose a small percent of their income.

The record industry submitted lots of evidence to the Gowers review of intellectual property, but public interests groups set in too. An international group called the Adelphi Charter wrote to Gowers, and they had been sponsored by the Royal Society of Arts, which is the society that promotes arts and culture in the U.K. They had come up with very convincing arguments why you should never extend the term of these exclusive rights retrospectively, much like the arguments that I’ve given you just now. They got submissions from the Open Rights Group which were sent in its infancy, but also from librarians, from educators, from public domain record labels, from the issue market, from people who needed a base of copyright-free public domain recorded sounds to achieve their creative goals, they got submissions from artists, … they got submissions from a very wide spectrum of people.

In the end they got so many submissions that they said ‘we can’t do this by ourselves’, and they went to a group of economists, and they said ‘look, please, can you look at this for us?’, because the Adelphi Charter says that the economic evidence really needs to be there before you make any retrospective change of term. So this group of economists came back and reported back to the Gowers review. They said there was a weak economic case for extending the term, that is that minorities would benefit from this, as we know the recording artists who are still popular 50 years later, the managers of those back catalogues. But there was a very strong economic case for not extending the term, and that was based on the money that was going to come out of consumers’ pockets for these recordings, that was based on the costs to follow on innovators, people who remix content, the costs to archivists, … the cost to culture as a whole. And this would negatively affect the balance of trade. And so this meant that the Gowers review of intellectual property documented that A) copyright term should not be extended, and B) copyright term should never be retrospectively extended, ever. And the U.K. government accepted this in full. And the Open Rights Group and all the other people who had submitted to this evidence were deeply, deeply satisfied with that result.

But we knew that it wasn’t going to end there. The recording industry, when this announcement came out -in fact it was leaked a week before it came out- they made it very clear that they would take their fight to Europe anyway. They continued to get politicians on their side in the U.K., they lobbied the culture committee, it’s been a history of quite hard lobbying. We knew it was going to happen.

Still, last week when commissioner Charly McCreevy, who is the commissioner of the Directorate General Internal Market, came out and said I propose to do this, that we extend the copyright term of sound recordings from 50 to 95 years. We were surprised that it had come that quickly, and we were also surprised that, well, the commission basically has a mandate up until the beginning of next year and then it’s re-elected, so there is very little time for this to become law before the commission gets a new mandate and all that is lost. So we were quite surprised.

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Reclaiming democratic processes in the E.U.

Cquote1.svg Becky Hogge: One of the reasons I’m in Brussels this week, and specifically this weekend at FOSDEM, there’s going to be a lot of people from all over Europe and the world who see different potential for incentivisation models for creativity that aren’t based on contributor’s rights. It’s to start a Europe-wide campaign to show that there is political as well as theoretical and factual opposition to this taking place. Because it’s very easy for copyright holders who are concentrated in one place, it’s very easy for them to gather their resources, to take those resources to show political support. But the general public and the people who stand to lose out from this move are a very diffuse set of people, and it’s much harder for them to get together and oppose something like this. What I’m hoping is that we do spread the word about this issue, and about what it means for not only for creativity and culture, but also in a sense for the way the laws get made in Europe. Because, you know the Gowers review presented compelling economic evidence, the D.G. Internal Market has compelling economic evidence that this isn’t right; they got in touch with a place called IVIR in Holland [Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam, ed.], and they came up with an even stronger case against copyright term extension. And yet the evidence is being ignored.

Erik Josefsson: The public interest is to have a proper discussion adapted to problems of democracy, transparency, and that the decisions are taken and prepared in a decent way.

Becky Hogge: And I think that’s even more important when you get to issues that centralise on technology, because often the media and politicians don’t have access to independent advice about technological changes. Certainly in the U.K. context, we find that politicians and the media don’t often understand the technologies but comment anyway and the result can be poor law and a poorly informed public. There have been instances were the government have only been given technical information and input from private interests.

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Erik admitted he was disappointed when he compared the way laws are currently made in the European Union to his experience with Swedish politics.

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It’s one of the worst proposals in a long time, and still it’s being proposed, and still it will have members of the European parliament defending it. This is to me, outrageous! I cannot understand, I cannot accept that this is Europe. If the man in the street could see what is happening, he would be appalled. The man in the street expects people to be decent, up until the highest levels of decision making, and unfortunately what we see here in Brussels, is the opposite in many cases.
-Erik Josefsson, Electronic Frontier Foundation (right)

Erik Josefsson: The way things were discussed, prepared and legislated in Sweden before was like a dream compared to what is happening now. The expert advice comes from a limited sector of the spectrum of ideas. In the Swedish tradition, it was the responsibility of the legislator to listen to everybody. I see that tradition is basically wiped away, not necessarily intentionally, but the European project is changing fundamentally in democratic processes and structures, and very fast, in such a way that it’s a challenge for any NGO that interacts with European policy makers.

Structurally, you have an inter service consultation, but you really don’t know how to be able to interact with that process. [To Becky, ed.] You’re envisioning kind of marching in the streets thing, or at least an online petition campaign of the size of a million signatures, … I’m saying that it’s unfortunate that the respect for rational discussion has been deteriorating to that extent that you have to counteract bad policy with campaigns in that sense. I would like to just underline the problem we have with the lack of discussion, which also means the knowledge distribution within society that finally would reach the political layer. In this case, understanding is close to zero in many segments of the political spectrum.

Eddan Katz: With the lack of democratic processes, I think what’s important to demonstrate from the general public in a letter-writing campaign, in making your voice heard, is a reclaim culture, to not allow that term to be captured by people who have very specific interests of how that work should be interpreted, and to reclaim that culture, the culture that’s now exploded in the internet age of all of us being able to produce things and publish things and make them available to the world instantaneously and without restrictions. That’s the culture that needs to be reclaimed, and that’s the feature here that needs to be seen. There’s no economic justification -to just return to the copyright term extension. Something has already been created, so since it has already been created, there’s no need incentivise creating it. You need to reclaim the democratic processes of Europe, you need to reclaim the term culture.

As you point out [to Becky, ed.], the danger is that there’s a very sophisticated campaign to describe certain people with the term piracy, and to describe those people who are advancing culture by appropriating it and adding to the way we produce and act as knowledge creators, to describe those people as thieves or worse. There is an opportunity to describe an alternative vision of what European culture is, what’s important about it, rather than to limit the interpretation of what that means for the future in a globalising world to private interests with very specific powers in the European institutions. I think our expectations should look towards the future, and the regular person should welcome and be excited for the opportunities that are made affordable by the internet, rather than the momentum and trend of legislation and political effort now, that try to lower those expectations. That’s were the focus should be in thinking about these issues: what is made possible by the new technologies, and not how existing companies can take advantage of controlling the law regarding the internet.

Erik Josefsson: The copyright extension proposal is a perfect example: there’s no justification from a legal point of view, from a financial point of view, from a cultural point of view. It’s a pure land grab. It’s one of the worst proposals in a long time, and still it’s being proposed, and still it will have members of the European parliament defending it. This is to me, outrageous! I cannot understand, I cannot accept that this is Europe. If the man in the street could see what is happening, he would be appalled. The man in the street expects people to be decent, up until the highest levels of decision making, and unfortunately what we see here in Brussels, is the opposite in many cases.

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Related news

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February 2, 2008

Wikinews interviews Tatsuhisa Yabushita of NBGI

Wikinews interviews Tatsuhisa Yabushita of NBGI

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Wikinews Reporter Rico Shen (left), with the producer of “Taiko no Tatsujin” Tatsuhisa Yabushita (right) of NBGI at the 2008 Taipei Game Show.
Image: Rico Shen.

Many rhythm gamers are anticipating the release of “Taiko no Tatsujin 11: Asian Version”, the Namco Bandai Games Inc. (NBGI) beta version of which was recently showcased at the 2008 Taipei Game Show.

In fact, several managers from amusement stores in Taiwan frequently imported large quantities of arcade games, including rhythm games. Eventually, some slot machine developers modified codes from several game consoles like the Wii, PlayStation 2 (PS2), and Sega Saturn to fulfill needs for amusement arcades, but they risked hardware failure and copyright infringement.

But before those modifications happened in Taiwan, many rhythm games just used songs from other arcade machines due to copyright issues from enrolled songs.

The upcoming game will benefit Mandarin-language gamers after its release, but it may hide some secrets behind the development of “Taiko no Tatsujin 11: Asian Version”. Wikinews reporter Rico Shen recently interviewed the producer of “Taiko no Tatsujin” Tatsuhisa Yabushita to talk about some of the background of this upcoming game and its series.

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngRico ShenWikinews waves Right.png It became a hot topic after the NBGI decided to showcase the “Taiko no Tatsujin 11: Asian Version” at the 2008 Taipei Game Show, and it’s different from past series’ because the NBGI acquired several Mandarin-language songs from the Cross-Strait area (Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong) especially. When you choose them, what factors go into the decision?

Tatsuhisa Yabushita: We [the NBGI] enrolled those various songs based on their own performances and rankings from Cross-Strait countries. But we’ll still keep several songs from Namco original, Japanese-pop, and classical music in this upcoming game.

Wikinews waves Left.pngRSWikinews waves Right.png I believe that a developer should be aware of international copyright coordination before choosing a song for a game, not only in rhythm games, but also games of other types. For instance, I know that some controversy erupted in Taiwan after some covers of Japanese songs were recorded in other languages without agreements from the original singers and composers. Before the release of this upcoming game, have you coordinated with record companies about the copyright issues?

Yabushita: Everyone should respect copyrights, as you said. I guarantee that every song from the “Taiko no Tatsujin” series in console and arcade versions is licensed through coordination with those companies.

Wikinews waves Left.pngRSWikinews waves Right.png Some gamers may be confused because the console version of the “Taiko no Tatsujin” series is only available for PS2. After the release of the “Taiko no Tatsujin 11: Asian Version”, will the NBGI release different versions in different countries similar to the way “Taiko Drum Master” was released with special designs for American and European gamers?

Yabushita: Currently, we’ll focus our developments on the arcade version and temporarily not to consider different releases for different countries. This is because we will evaluate opinions from amusement stores and gamers after its release.

Summary

The “Taiko no Tatsujin” series became a hot topic after amusement stores imported several arcade machines in Taiwan. The release of the “Taiko no Tatsujin 11: Asian Version” aims to please countries speaking the Mandarin language.



Sources

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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Wikipedia
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“Taiko no Tatsujin” at 2008 Taipei Game Show


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December 24, 2007

German composer Harald Genzmer dies at age 98

German composer Harald Genzmer dies at age 98

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Monday, December 24, 2007

German Composer of contemporary classical music Harald Genzmer died last week in Munich, Germany. He was 98 years old.

Born on February 9, 1909 in Blumenthal, near Bremen, Germany, he studied composition with Paul Hindemith at the Berlin Hochschule für Music beginning in 1928.

In 1938 he taught at the Volksmusikschule Berlin-Neukölln. During the second world war he served as a clarinetist.

From 1946 to 1957 he taught at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg im Breisgau. From 1957 to 1974 he taught at the Munich Hochschule für Musik.

Among his notable students was the Egyptian composer Gamal Abdel-Rahim.

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October 13, 2007

Thai Tourism Minister applauds the Chiang Mai Charity Calendar

Thai Tourism Minister applauds the Chiang Mai Charity Calendar

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

A small desk calendar, which started as a voluntary school project, has risen to unexpected heights of fame.

His Excellency Dr. Suvit Yodmani, Thai Minister for Tourism and Sports paid tribute to the young creators of the “Chiang Mai Charity Calendar” by travelling up from Bangkok to preside at the official launch of this initiative, which is designed to increase visitor arrivals to the Northern Thai city, and raise funds through calendar sales for childrens’ charities in the region. The event was held on October 5th 2007 at the recently opened Sofitel Riverside Hotel Chiang Mai, and attended by over 100 senior travel trade, airline media, consular and city hall representatives.

In an evening which included a presentation of how the calendar was conceived and created plus solo violin and classical guitar performances by students, Dr Suvit gave a talk about the future of the tourism industry in Chiang Mai, highlighting the importance of environmental issues, and close co-operation between the government and private sectors. He cited the Charity Calendar as an example of what could be achieved even by schoolchildren in terms of tourism promotion, and gave it his wholehearted support.

The evening concluded with the Minister presenting certificates of appreciation to the artists who painted the colourful images of the city which were chosen to be included in the non-profit calendar and representing why “Chiang Mai is a Wonderful Place to Live”

Offered as an unusual gift, the desk calendar is likely to carry its promotional message — in text and childrens’ paintings — into homes and offices in countries around the world.



Sources

Wikinews
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July 3, 2007

Soprano Beverly Sills dies at age 78

Soprano Beverly Sills dies at age 78 – Wikinews, the free news source

Soprano Beverly Sills dies at age 78

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Soprano Beverly Sills, who brought opera to United States popular culture through frequent television appearances, died last night at her home in New York. She was 78.

Born Belle Miriam Silverman on May 25, 1929 in Brooklyn, she was nicknamed “Bubbles”, and started singing at age three, winning talent contests and singing on the radio.

She made her professional stage debut in 1945, with a touring Gilbert and Sullivan show, and in 1947, started singing opera as Frasquite in Carmen with the Philadelphia City Opera. She sang with the San Francisco Opera and the New York City Opera.

She married in 1956 to journalist and Cleveland Plain Dealer publishing heir Peter Greenough, and had two children with him. One was deaf and the other mentally retarded, so Sills curtailed her performances to care for them.

She returned to opera in 1962, with the Opera Company of Boston, and then reached her peak singing years in the mid- and late-1960s, singing with the New York City Opera.

She made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in April 1975, receiving an 18-minute ovation for her performance in The Siege of Corinth.

At the height of her popularity in the 1970s, she was a regular guest on television variety shows with Danny Kaye, Carol Burnett and The Muppet Show. She was even a guest host on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show. For two years, she had her own weekly talk show. Sills graced magazine covers, such as Time and Newsweek, as an example of an American who conquered the European-dominated world of classical music.

After retiring from performing in 1980, Sills became the general manager of the New York City Opera. She became the chairman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1994, and 2002 was appointed head of the Metropolitan Opera.

Sills had surgery for cancer in 1974, but it had been revealed last month that she was ill with an aggressive form of lung cancer, though she never smoked. She died about 9 p.m. ET yesterday at her home in Manhattan with her family and doctor at her side.

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April 28, 2007

Russian cellist Rostropovitch dies at 80

Russian cellist Rostropovitch dies at 80

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, performing at the White House on September 17, 1978.

Azerbaijan-born cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich (nicknamed Slava, Russian for glory) has passed yesterday at age 80, after having been admitted to a Moscow hospital in February this year, allegedly for intestinal cancer. The exact cause of death however has not been released. His coffin has been put in the Moscow Conservatory today, and many prominent and thousands of other Russians came to salute him. The cello player only died four days after his friend Boris Yeltsin.

Rostropovich was not only considered to be one of the best cellists in the world, but he also was a symbol of the resistance to the Soviet regime. In 1970, he provided shelter to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose writings alerted the world to the Gulag system of forced labour camps in the Soviet Union. Because of his support for dissidents, Rostropovich fell in disgrace and lost his citizenship in 1978. He was restored during the perestroika reforms.

Rostropovich conducted the U.S. National Symphony Orchestra from 1977 to 1994. In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered him the First Degree in the Order of Service to the Fatherland for his “outstanding contribution to the development of world music and many years of creative activity.”

President Putin, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, French PM Dominique de Villepin and others have already expressed their regrets about the loss of Rostropovich. De Villepin brought to memory Rostropovich’s performance at the Berlin Wall during it’s fall, an image globally broadcasted which earned him international fame.

Sources

Wikipedia
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Mstislav Rostropovich
Wikinews in French This is a complete or partial translation of the article “Rostropovitch nous a quitté“, from the French language Wikinews, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.
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August 21, 2006

Indian shehnai Maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan Passes Away

Indian shehnai Maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan Passes Away

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Ustad Bismillah Khan

The legendary Indian shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan Sahib (March 21, 1916 – August 21, 2006) was the third classical musician to be awarded the Bharat Ratna (in 2001), the highest civilian honour in India. According to the Indian Home Ministry officials, the musical maestro would be given a state funeral. Flags would be flown at half mast in all the government buildings as part of the mourning.

He also had the distinction of heralding in India’s Independence, mesmerizing audiences before the start of Pandit Nehru’s speech and the unfurling of the tricolour on August 15, 1947. Ustad Bismillah Khan Sahib was one of the few people to be awarded all the top four civilian awards.

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