March 23, 2013

Copyright trolls bully Dutch author so much he stops blogging

Filed under: Literature by Branko Collin @ 5:00 pm

Ray Kluun has stopped blogging … for now.

The author of Love Life keeps being bombarded with ridiculously high copyright claims over images that he naïvely had been plucking off Google Images in the past to adorn his postings.

In a message that replaces his blog’s frontpage he explains:

Bloggers who borrowed from Google Images in the past have been declared outlawed. Unfortunately I (and many others with me) only found this out recently. All of this has cost me thousands of euros and lots of irritation. Of course I have stopped publishing photos [on this blog] for this reason.

It is however pretty much impossible to remove all photos that I have added to postings on kluun.nl since 2003. I would have to check thousands of articles and remove the photos one by one.

Basic legal tenets, such as the right to a fair trial and the right to a punishment proportional to the wrongdoing have been thrown out the window in the Netherlands in the past few years where it comes to intellectual property. There is an entire cottage industry of so-called copyright trolls who scour the web for infringements. If they find one, the send out bills ten times the price of the license or more. These companies even have their own go-to court, the one of The Hague, where especially judge Chris Hensen is a good friend of the copyright industry.

(Illustration: screenshot of Kluun’s website)

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July 23, 2012

Anti-piracy group caught pirating (surprise!)

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:01 am

Composer Melchior Rietveld won a court case against copyright collection agency Stemra last week over music he wrote for an anti-piracy ad.

TorrentFreak writes:

In 2006, Dutch musician Melchior Rietveldt was asked to compose a piece of music to be used in an anti-piracy advert. It was to be used exclusively at a local film festival. However, when Rietveldt bought a Harry Potter DVD in 2007, he discovered his music being used in the anti-piracy ad without his permission. In fact, it had been used on dozens of DVDs both in the Netherlands and overseas.

In order to get the money he was owed, Rietveldt went to local music royalty collecting agency Buma/Stemra who had been representing him since 1988 but had failed to pay him any money for the anti-piracy piece previously registered with them.

Stemra deliberately kept Rietveld in the dark about the number of DVDs that had the pirated music on them, and initially refused to pay him money. After a lot of nagging Rietveld was contacted by a board member who offered him a fast track to his money if only he would split the loot with said board member.

Rietveld claimed 100,000 euro in damages, but the court only awarded him 20,000 euro (Dutch courts rarely award anything more than ‘proven’ damages), so Stemra now asserts this is a big win for them. Since the government is ultimately responsible for the dealings of the copyright collection agencies, I have my doubts—again—that this will ever lead to a second of jail time for the likes of Stemra.

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June 30, 2012

Indian judge surprised by question about riding a bicycle

Filed under: Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 11:02 am

An Indian judge moving to The Hague got a bit of a shock when they asked him about certain transport preferences, The Indian Express wrote last month:

Justice Dalveer Bhandari is to leave for The Hague next month to join the International Court of Justice. Bhandari was perplexed when he received a phone call from The Hague asking whether he would like a bicycle to be booked for him. In India, justices are used to limousines and pilot cars and the thought that in The Hague, most people travel by cycles for short distances, came as a culture shock to the honourable judge.

Justice Bhandari was sworn in on June 19, Indlaw writes.

For more about dignitaries and their bicycles, see also: Journalistic portraits of photojournalists.

(Link: Bicycledutch. Photo of the Peace Palace in The Hague by Alkan de Beaumont Chaglar, some rights reserved)

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June 23, 2012

Lottery forced to pay after judge finds advertisement misleading

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 12:11 pm

You know those lottery ads where in big print it says you’ve won and then somewhere in the small print it says you haven’t won at all, except perhaps for the right to hand over your cash?

Well, one Dutch judge thought enough was enough and has found for six plaintiffs who thought they had won 2,500 euro each.

In a letter that the winners received in October 2010 from Postcode Loterij, the impression was given that the recipients were guaranteed winners if the two unique codes they received with the letter matched the codes printed in a table (see illustration). Once they had sent in their coupons, only one plaintiff received a minor prize and the other five received a lottery ticket—clearly not what they had expected.

The small print said that participants only had a chance of winning the prize, but judge Pauline van der Kolk-Nunes quickly disposed of the T&C: “[The letter] will raise an expectation with the average consumer that they have won a prize […] and that the table shows which prize they have won. The codes and the table are unlikely to have any other meaning. [The small print] contradicts the core of the agreement, which is: you will receive a gift.”

Karma can be cruel.

Postcode Loterij is planning to appeal the decision.

See also: The battle to outlaw poker rages on

(Illustration: iusmentis.com / Postcode Loterij. The text reads: “Do you have one of these codes on your lucky coin? And do you have a valid gift code? Then you will receive one of these gifts, guaranteed. Which gift is yours?”)

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March 15, 2012

Judges punish ‘foreign looking’ criminals harder

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 7:26 pm

Dutch judges are five times more likely to send a criminal to jail if the suspect has a foreign appearance, researchers from Leiden University found out.

That likelihood increases to 20 times if the suspect does not speak Dutch.

The researchers checked for expected variables such as the features of the crime, the likelihood of the suspect to commit further crimes, and the location of the court.

Judges not only discriminated against foreigners with a non-Dutch appearance, but also against men. Women are three times less likely to end in jail than men who committed the same crimes. Only lighter crimes, including theft, assault, battery and traffic violations were studied.

A factor that did not influence the weight of the punishment was whether suspects showed they were sorry.

The researchers expressed concern that people receive a prison sentence when community or a fine would have sufficed, because prison sentence are known to kick-start criminal careers.

(Via: NRC. Link: Leiden University)

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January 9, 2012

Court forces paedophile to move to Christian Internet provider

Filed under: Religion by Branko Collin @ 8:26 am

Last November the Zutphen court told a man to relocate to a Protestant Internet access provider (verdict, Dutch) as part of his punishment. The man had acquired a collection of more than 50,000 images and videos containing child pornography.

The public prosecutor had asked to give the man a suspended prison sentence of twelve months, to force the man to switch to Dutch Reformed provider Kliksafe, which provides censored Internet access, 240 hours of community service, and a treatment for ‘cannabis addiction’, whatever that is supposed to mean. The defense went largely along with this.

The court saw as a mitigating circumstance that the man had reported himself, and that it then took the Public Prosecution Service two years to act.

The non-profit foundation that owns Kliksafe writes about itself:

The basis of the foundation is God’s word, as is recorded in the Belgic Confession in Articles 2 through 7. It affirms completely and unconditionally the Three Forms of Unity as they were determined in the National Synod, held in Dordrecht in the years 1618 and 1619. It therefore declares the absolute power of God’s Word over all of life’s areas, including the use of media.

The filter criteria of Kliksafe are amongst others:

  • Sites that proselytize for non-Christian faiths
  • Sites that contain depictions of God
  • Sites that promote the desecration of Sabbath
  • Sites that promote unbiblical forms of cohabitation.

None of the parties in the court case seem to have seen anything untoward in sentencing a sex offender to start using the services of a provider allied to a religious denomination, even though the Abrahamic religions have a really dismal track record when it comes to healthy sexuality. The three judges seem to have seriously dropped the ball there.

(Link: Bright.nl.)

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November 6, 2011

Internet thugs Realnetworks lose case against Hilbrand Edskes

Filed under: General,Online,Technology by Branko Collin @ 4:53 pm

In what looks like a typical case of trying to silence somebody, American company Realnetworks with the aid of the Dutch public prosecutor, the Dutch police and the Dutch courts has managed to bully webmaster Hilbrand Edskes into running up over 66,000 euro in legal costs, losing all his spare time, and putting off his hopes of one day buying a house.

What Realnetworks did not manage to do is win its lawsuit against Hilbrand Edskes. The latter won last Wednesday. Edskes had a link to software (Real Alternative) competing with Realnetworks’ product (Real Player) on his website, which the company alleged was illegal. The court thoroughly dismissed all of Realnetworks’ claims.

Realnetworks won an ex-parte case against Edskes in August. An ex-parte case is one where the defendant is not allowed to defend himself, so it wasn’t strange that Realnetworks managed to ‘win’ that one. Remember how Louis Vuitton tried to keep the world in the dark about its involvement in the Darfur genocide? They used the same legal crowbar.

Realnetworks, you may or may not remember, used to produce a piece of software called Real Player with which you could play videos and music. Almost nobody uses it because it is not nearly as good as VLC or Quicktime. One wonders if perhaps suing small fry is Realnetworks’ latest business model.

That a supposedly democratic country like the Netherlands lets anyone with deep pockets abuse the court system to bully others is a disgrace, and judges who see no problem with ex parte cases ought to be deeply ashamed of themselves.

The court only awarded Edskes 48,000 euro in damages, because both parties had agreed to this amount beforehand, according to the verdict (Dutch).

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September 17, 2011

Judges not allowed to piece verdict together on the internet

Filed under: General,IT by Branko Collin @ 1:43 pm

The appeals court of Den Bosch got bitch slapped by the Dutch supreme court for inserting its own facts into a verdict without giving the parties involved a chance to respond.

A legal guardian had bought a license for Smart FMS, a sort of bookkeeping package, to take care of the accounts of his ward. It’s not clear to me who sued whom, but at some point the protagonists of this case found themselves in front of the appeals court of Den Bosch. And when the dust settled and the verdict came out, it turned out that the judge had been googling for extra information, and had concluded that

this software is first and foremost a system to aid the guardian’s administration, and it only helps clarify the payments of the clients as a side-effect. The clients furthermore have no say about the usage of this particular system, assuming they are even willing to bear the costs, and are capable of using it. […] Although the guardian did not provide [this court] with information about the software, the internet did.

The guardian was not pleased, as he had had no chance to defend himself against the court’s allegation. Last week the supreme court agreed with him. That the parties involved in legal proceedings have a right to be heard is a Dutch legal principle.

(Link: Iusmentis. Verdict in Dutch at Jure.nl.)

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January 31, 2011

Even gossip queens have a right to privacy

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 11:47 am

The Court of Appeal in Den Bosch has recently ruled that the public prosecutor must start a case against broadcaster BNN reporters Sophie Hilbrand and Filemon Wesselink for spying on TV presenter Albert Verlinde and his husband, Onno Hoes.

Ironically, Albert Verlinde is one of the presenters of TV gossip programme RTL Boulevard, and Onno Hoes is the Mayor of Maastricht—between them they must have committed more privacy violations than all the hidden cameras in girls’ locker rooms the world over combined.

Volkskrant reports that reporters Sophie Hilbrand and Philemon Wesselink installed audio recording equipment in an award they presented to Verlinde, the ‘Golden Ear”, with which they successfully recorded a discussion Verlinde and Hoes had in the car on their way home. The public prosecutor had already fined the reporters, so that they now get punished for the same offence twice. For the record, double jeopardy—or ne bis in idem as it is called here—is illegal in the Netherlands.

(Photo of Albert Verlinde by Thomas van de Weerd, some rights reserved)

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September 12, 2010

Lawyers may not kiss their friends if these friends are also clients

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 10:57 am

A remarkable verdict from a disciplinary court: a lawyer was found to have acted without the dignity proper to his profession when he kissed a friend on the cheek in greeting while representing her.

De Pers reports that the unnamed lawyer greeted the friend at a police station in 2008, where an assistant prosecutor took offence and filed charges for ‘unseemly behaviour’. Two weeks ago the Amsterdamse Raad van Discipline (Amsterdam Disciplinary Court) agreed with the assistant prosecutor.

Apart from the fact that there are gradations of familiarity, and that kissing somebody on the cheek at the police station is perhaps not the same thing as walking around a court room in bathroom slippers, there is also a whiff of sexism attached to this verdict. That is to say, I cannot remember hearing of a similar verdict regarding shaking hands, which is how most men greet each other in this country.

The lawyer has received a warning.

(Link: Martin Wisse, second day in a row! Photo by Steve Punter, some rights reserved.)

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