unjapanologist: (internethygiene)
I'm increasingly convinced that all schools from the primary to higher level should establish new classes on the history and functioning of the internet. Every adult in the world should be forced to attend at least a semester of such a class. Policymakers who are involved in regulating the internet should be forced to attend and come back for remedial classes at regular intervals, because they need a well-developed bullshit radar to deal with the horrendous policy proposals that are lobbed at their heads all the freakin' time.

Read more... )We've seen a lot of bad recommendations for internet policy in the recent past, a lot of it related to misguided copyright enforcement initiatives, but this is really special. No anonymity? Constant oversight? Only real pictures as avatars? No using languages that the internet police doesn't speak? How on earth does this sort of baffling nonsense make it into the recommendations of an official body made up of grownups with brains?

The noxious influence of business interests is strong in this one; EDRI calls the whole initiative "little more than a protection racket (use filtering or be held liable for terrorist offences) for the online security industry". What's kind of shocking here is not that business interests are trying to influence policymaking, though. That's been happening ever since businesses and policymaking came into existence. The real issue is that these sorts of recommendations have some chance of getting somewhere. They may or may not make it into law, but they will almost certainly end up influencing the policymakers who will lay eyes on them. Far too many of these people have no earthly idea how the internet works and what is necessary to keep the internet gears from turning. They don't have the necessary background knowledge and practical experience to recognize these "recommendations" for the harmful crap they are the moment the papers land on their desks. I shudder to think that serious lawmaking people will be looking this over, nodding along and assuming these ideas are very reasonable and terrorist-stopping.

Nobody can be expected to have a thorough grounding in every topic in existence, but the internet is no longer a "special" issue that you can ignore until some proposals come around, at which point you call in a "nerd" to explain things and tell you what to do. Knowing about the workings and needs of a functioning internet is as essential for a 21st-century public official as knowing about traffic rules. Every time you make a new rule, you should consider the effect it will have on the internet, and you should know how to do so. Back to school for everyone.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Apparently Summit Entertainment had a picture by artist Kelly Howlett yanked from Zazzle because they believed - wrongly - that she was selling Twilight fan art.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
The suspension of Digital Manga from the Kindle Store over unspecified "content violations" has been reversed, which Digital Manga attributes to the outpouring of support from fans who took action. That was fast!

While I'm glad Digital Manga can continue to sell via Amazon, I'm profoundly unimpressed with the robustness of Amazon's judgment here. If they can be swayed by one group of people yelling loudly about their interpretation of the vague content guidelines, they can be swayed by other groups, including those whose interpretations are not so benign and who may want to stop others' voices from being heard on Amazon's massive platform.
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
It seems Amazon just suspended Digital Manga Inc. from publishing on Kindle entirely. Reportedly, this was done over an ill-defined "content violation" related to Digital Manga's yaoi titles. It's not the first time that yaoi titles are the subject of censorship kerfuffles, but apparently Amazon is still not planning to clarify its famously vague guidelines about "pornography" versus "erotica".

(Apple is engaging in disturbingly similar practices, apparently keeping out yaoi titles and other LGBTQ content from its iBooks store. Digital Manga was told to remove its yaoi titles from its iPad app on February 2. It's a bad, bad thing when distributors get to control what appears on people's reading devices and can use drm to lock people even further into their walled gardens.)

Read more... )

ETA: The text above contained a reference to taking my business to the The Book Depository, but [personal profile] eggsbenedict points out that The Book Depository was bought by Amazon last year. I don't know exactly how this is impacting the running of the company, but removed the reference just to make sure. Apparently Amazon also owns Abebooks and a bunch of other book-related companies, including some I use and give money to, such as LibraryThing.

Again, I don't know what being owned by Amazon means for these companies and if it has any influence on, for instance, their content policies. Maybe there's no influence. However, it does seem clear that I'm absolutely unable to buy legal copies of some of the e-books I want or need for work without financially benefiting Amazon. It's not a sign of a healthy system if it's completely impossible anywhere in the world to buy a legal copy of a certain book without somehow going through this one single distributor.
unjapanologist: (Default)
A testimony at a European Parliament workshop on ACTA on March 1. I think this one is a must-see, especially because Geist doesn't just touch upon the problems inherent in ACTA, but also clearly and concisely lists a lot of issues that keep on coming back in similar treaties: the use of unclear language, the exclusion of developing countries from negotiations, the lack of transparency that comes with negotiating treaties out of the public eye and behind the back of established international venues that are designed to host these kinds of negotiations, and so on. A full transcript of the talk is available here.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
This video gives a quick overview of why we shouldn't assume that the business model of the entertainment industry is worth protecting against the things it hates, like piracy or unlicensed creation of derivative works (such as all kinds of fanstuff).

Video and rambling under the cut )
unjapanologist: (Default)
I watch tons of interesting talks online every week, academic and otherwise, but I barely ever seem to share them beyond Twitter. Dreamwidth and all the places where I cross-post need more good and watchable non-fiction videos, as arbitrarily decided by me just now, so I'll be posting some on a semi-regular basis from now on. Enjoy!

Beware online “filter bubbles”: Eli Pariser on TED.com (9 min)

Description from TED's website:

As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.
unjapanologist: (Default)
After the disappearance of 1984 and the no-gay-books-in-our-rankings weirdness, it seems Amazon has now decided it does not like fiction containing incest and is prepared to protect the moral integrity of its paying customers by remotely removing any naughty books from its e-reading device. I encourage anyone, especially gullible people like me paying Amazon customers, to send a message to the Kindle team via here.

EDIT: Got a reply from Amazon. "Occasionally books are removed from the Kindle Store for various reasons. We don't have any details about why a particular book may have been removed." Well, that was totally besides the point, since I was complaining about the removal of purchased books from customers' Kindles instead of just from the Kindle Store. Also, "We assure you that the books from your kindle will not be removed and you can go ahead and purchase the kindle content." THE books, meaning any book I purchase in the future? I hope so.
unjapanologist: (Default)
The Kyoto International Manga Museum live-streamed its conference on the "virtual children" problem earlier today -the video is still available here. It was a good symposium, with many of the most important problems of this proposed legislation being explained by some very knowledgable people. I'm writing a longer post after I've gotten my grubby hands on a summary of Ito Go's presentation -he was the only one who spoke a bit too quickly and indistinctly for me to follow, and I don't want to misrepresent his words. For now, just a quick word on one of the topics raised that resonated the most with me: what happens when people are unwillingly faced with sexual imagery in public places.
Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
Attention, all who know Japanese and are interested in the recent legal wrangling in Japan on virtual children in sexual situations in manga: tomorrow (Sunday) the Kyoto International Manga Museum will be hosting and livecasting a symposium on the subject. Details about how to follow the livecast will appear on the museum's Twitter. The symposium starts at half past one in the afternoon; check here to find out what time that is in your location. I will attempt to follow and summarize what's said; hopefully the audio will be good and my less than stellar academic Japanese will be up to the task. Interesting people such as Ito Go, Takemiya Keiko and Jaqueline Berndt will be among the speakers.
unjapanologist: (Default)
Dan Kanemitsu has a great post up about why the proposed Tokyo ban of depictions of "nonexistent youth" in sexual situations is dangerous nonsense. Discussion about this proposed legislation has only been postponed at this point, and the city of Osaka has apparently decided they want to appear vigilant as well (and will engage in added vigilance by regulating women's comics and boys' love/yaoi. Thank heavens someone realizes that women's expressions of sexuality need extra policing! </sarcasm>).

Getting up in arms about nonexistent children seems to be a real trend these days. A similar law has gone live in the UK only a few days ago. With the February sentencing of US citizen Christopher Handley for possessing “obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children" and Australia recently mulling criminalization of viewing or linking to online depictions of what might be nonexistent children in sexual situations, it almost looks as if countries are egging each other on to see who can look toughest on child pornography.
Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)

Originally published at Academic FFF. You can comment here or there.

A new Australian law could impose penalties on anyone who views slash fic or other (fan) media that feature fictional minors in a sexual situation. This isn't throwing out the baby with the bathwater, it's also throwing out the bath, the parents, the dog, and a couple of people who were just walking past the house.

Read more... )


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