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 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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August 16, 2010

Amsterdam through the eyes of its photobloggers

Filed under: Photography by Branko Collin @ 8:00 am

Meet Amsterdam.

Perhaps all cities have photobloggers, but if that is the case, I seem to have missed them. However, the documentary photographers of Amsterdam pop up on my radar all the time. These men—always men?—aim to bring you at least one portrait of the city a day, slowly recording its history in extreme close-up.

Thomas Schlijper is perhaps their leader. A professional photographer, he nevertheless seems to find plenty of time for photographs taken just for fun. Shown here a fountain on Frederiksplein at dusk, and somebody else trying to capture the moment.

Marien van Os wants to become a better photographer, so he practises by publishing (at least) one photo a day at In this photo a heron stalks a fisherman on the Amstel river, waiting till the right moment.

This photo is by René Louman who often just leans out of his window to take a picture. I approve of this, because it would be a shame to waste a good window. Louman likes people. I don’t know exactly where this photo of a waitress wrestling a huge parasol was taken, but with all the fresh brick in Louman’s photos, I would guess the Oostelijk Havengebied (Eastern Harbour).

Others you may wish to check out:

  • Milo Vermeulen
  • Peter de Wit (Facemepls, whose Creative Commonsed photos we often use at 24 Oranges)
  • Marc van Woudenberg makes things easy on himself by photographing people when they look their best: on stately Dutch bikes.

Did I miss anyone?

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October 3, 2009

Buma/Stemra charges bloggers 130+ euro for YouTube vids

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 1:42 pm

Collecting society Buma/Stemra is after Dutch bloggers now. Starting in 2010 you must cough up 130 euro for every six music videos you embed in your web page, according to Madbello (Dutch).

Buma/Stemra is a copyright collecting society for composers. It makes use of a feature of Dutch copyright law that says that negotiating licenses and royalties is too cumbersome for some forms of creative works, and that therefore collecting societies can be set up that charge bulk rates and pass on the money to the creators.

IT law specialists Arnoud Engelfriet and Kamiel Koelman are quick to dismiss B/S’ claims at (Dutch). Both point out that embedding content on your web page is not necessarily a new publication of that content, and therefore B/S cannot charge money for it.

Dutch copyright law makes a distinction between the act of copying and the act of publishing. A famous lawsuit that highlights the difference between the two, and that went all the way to the Dutch High Council is Poortvliet vs. Hovener (Dutch, PDF). Hovener was a publisher who had an agreement to sell 13 reproductions of Poortvliet’s paintings as part of a calendar. Although Hovener did print the calendar, they then cut out the reproductions and sold them separately, pasted on cardboard and presumably at a much higher price. No copying took place, yet it was considered a new form of publication, and therefore infringement.

Engelfriet’s and Koelman’s reasoning are in my opinion unconvincing, but even more so I think B/S rates are through the roof. A rate of 13 cents per embedded video seems much more reasonable considering that videos embedded in blogs (with the rare exception perhaps for blogs where people come to listen to the music) only work to expose an audience to the embedded works.

UPDATE: Sign the petition: bumablog

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July 14, 2009

Lotte Klaver’s mesmerizing sketches

Filed under: Animals,Art by Branko Collin @ 10:16 am

Lotte Klaver has been posting sketches to her blog since she was yay high, or at least yay old, so that by now, what with her prolific output, her online portfolio is big enough for grown art lovers to get lost in. In fact, she started her blog before we started 24 Oranges, and I remember thinking back then: “this would be a good posting for a site about wonderful Dutch things.” After which I forgot. Apologies for the delay, good reader.

She also sells tees singing praise of the wonderful bond between humans and cephalopods, and you just know there are people who are into that sort of thing.

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March 14, 2009

Blogging from prison

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 5:29 pm

A 56-year-old Dutch woman, Anna B. as she calls herself, was caught smuggling 8 kilos of “very good Dutch weed” into Italy, two years ago. Her lawyer managed to make it so that after a few months she could spend the rest of her 3 year 4 month sentence under house arrest. Friends got her an apartment in what appears to be a very idyllic village in Lombardia, and another stroke of luck made it so that she got two hours a day to go to the supermarket, time she uses to go hiking.

What does one do the rest of the day? Blogging (Dutch), taking pictures, making music, living on the Internet.

The lawyer called to tell me that next Monday, March 5, is the court date where we’ll again try and get me freedom of movement within the province between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

That’s quite a lot.

I really only wanted to sail a boat to the horizon for once. Or walk until I am tired. Or eat the daily special at the daily special restaurant at the top of the hill. Hmmm, nice.

Anna got her extra bit of freedom last week (Dutch).

Photo of Lake Como by ezioman, some rights reserved.

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December 16, 2008

First court victory for copyright trolls

Filed under: Online by Branko Collin @ 8:01 am

“Copyright trolls” Cozzmoss got their first victory in a court of law, where they successfully sued blogger Joffrey Vermeule for copyright infringement of a newspaper article. The court awarded 402 euro to Cozzmoss (decision, Dutch, PDF). Cozzmoss had claimed at one point well over 5000 euro in damages.

A copyright troll is a particularly heinous creature that feeds off accidental copyright infringement by those least likely to defend themselves. It seeks out such infringements and then sends bills claiming preposterous amounts of damages. In countries like the Netherlands, where courts typically claim that damages must actually be proven, the troll then offers the infringer a discount on their trumped up ‘fine’ in the hope it won’t come to a court case. Vermeule was the first Dutch blogger to pass up on that offer.

The rise of copyright trolls in the Netherlands has led to a foundation that helps bloggers with their defense against these creatures, the Stichting Copyright & Nieuwe Media. It’s not clear if the foundation played a part in Vermeule’s defense, nor what part they would have played.

Link: Marketing Facts (Dutch). Image: stolen off the internets, arrr! (Actually, it’s in the public domain.)

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November 30, 2008

Flemish student loses her job due to drunk Belgian minister

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 2:36 pm
Fortune cookie

What a lovely bit of gossip. A Flemish student living and working in New York blogged about a drunk Belgian minister and got fired for it.

The story goes that Nathalie Lubbe Bakker who until recently worked as a barmaid in New York City to pay for her room and board described the loud, lewd and drunk performance of Belgian defense minister Pieter de Crem at her bar in detail on her blog. Then, after some discussion between a representative of the minister and her boss she got fired without any explanation. Lubbe Bakker asked and heard from the defense minister’s representative that the minister wasn’t even supposed to be in New York as his meetings were all cancelled. That last bit was immediately picked up by the Belgian parliament and has been fueling the Belgian media and talk shows as of late. Lubbe Bakker asked the respentative, “didn’t you know beforehand that your meetings in New York were cancelled?”, “oh yes”, answered the representative, “but you know, it’s so quiet in Brussels at the moment, nothing is happening so we’d thought we’d come to NYC since we’ve never been here before”.

Yes, this is not really about the Netherlands, but I was weak. I will repent soon.

UPDATE: The girl is Dutch and lives in Antwerp. I have repented.


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November 11, 2008

Musician ‘fined’ by social networking site, possibly for faulty grammar

Filed under: General,Music,Online by Branko Collin @ 9:17 am

An unnamed musician got fined recently by a social networking site (Muzikanten-in-jouw-stad, Musicians in your city) after she had aborted the registration process, according to a report by Volkskrant blogger Satuka. Though the site’s administrators would not tell the musician what the fine was for, they did present her with a list of finable offenses, among which:

  • Posting meaningless texts and random characters
  • Using bad grammar
  • Using something other than the local language

Muzikanten-in-jouw-stad presents itself as the online meeting place for local musicians, but Satuka’s blog entry suggests it’s mostly a place for extracting hard-earned cash from those unlucky enough to register. Last week she wrote that a friend was fined 10 euro after not finishing her registration. The friend had gotten tired of the large number of obligatory fields on the sign-up form, and had started to enter non-sensical texts. When the site told her—still during the “free” sign-up process—to call an 0900 number and record some demo music for the mere sum of 40 euro, the friend decided to abort.

As a result she received an e-mail “a little while later” (Satuka’s entry is nothing if not vague), which claimed that she had violated the site’s General Terms & Conditions and that she therefore had to pay a ten 10 fine.

Law blogger Arnoud Engelfriet has this to say about this case:

  • You should send a reminder before you fine people, not during,
  • If you want to fine people you should not leave any mention of fines out of the T&C, and
  • The T&C are invalid in their entirety because they are presented in a pop-up window without the possibility of saving the T&C to a local medium.

I’d like to add that the musician never finished the registration process, so you have to wonder what legal obligations she has towards the site. I’d guess none, but IANAL. Also, I was told by reputable legal scholars that only courts can impose fines. Engelfriet suggests Satuka’s friend tell the networking blog to take a long walk off a short pier, though in politer and legally binding terms.

Today’s special rich creamy irony sauce: the letter that claims the social networking site can fine you for bad grammar is full of, yes, you guessed right, examples.

(Photo by Tomascastelazo, some rights reserved.)

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November 5, 2008

Journalists and bloggers could get equal legal protection

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:07 am
Journalism vs blogging

Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch-Ballin has submitted a bill to the Dutch Lower House so that journalists obtain the legal right not to reveal their sources. The interesting part is that anyone who publishes for a broader audience will be protected under this law – including bloggers. The bill is designed to put an end to the situation where journalists are jailed for not revealing their sources.

Back in 2006, two journalists from Dutch daily De Telegraaf were imprisoned for not revealing the source who told them about state secrets of the AIVD (General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands) because they revealed information about a top criminal who was their source.

However, having a broad definition of who exactly is a journalist is quite practical. “European jurisprudence shows that protecting one’s source is not just for professional reporters, but also for amateurs and bloggers who can claim to be protecting a source.”

The photo about was taken during the Blog08 event in Amsterdam when a panel of well-known European journalists debated the journalism vs. blogging question. They were not very fond of bloggers as a primary source, although now it seems the law might actually provide bloggers with more leverage in the future.


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October 7, 2008

Blogging and vlogging rocks at Blog08

Filed under: Dutch first,General,Online by Orangemaster @ 9:07 am

For the first time on October 24 Amsterdam will play host to a one-day extravagaza dedicated to blogging, vlogging and all things blogosphere called Blog08. Young Dutch blogger and rocker Ernst-Jan Pfauth and his curly blonde counterpart Edial Dekker have put together an impressive programme of speakers, including American Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable, local serial entrepreneur Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten and the only woman so far, Clo Willaerts from Sanoma Magazines Belgium.

I also talked to Ernst-Jan and Edial about the Dutch Bloggies, the prize for Dutch blogs and what they feel constitutes a Dutch blog: the language of the blog, the domain suffix or the nationality of the blogger. They said ‘nationality’, which would make this blog run on co-blogger Branko Collin’s Dutch passport when we will attempt to get nominated for an award (hint hint).

I really like the idea of a guitar pick as a trinket!

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