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Glasgow cannabis enthusiasts celebrate ‘green’ on city green
May 28, 2020 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Coinciding with Easter Sunday, Glasgow Cannabis Social Club’s annual 420 event was held on Glasgow Green, under sunny blue skies, and overlooking the river Clyde. Despite the city’s council attempting to revoke permission for the gathering at the last minute, police were happy for it to go-ahead with approximately a dozen officers attending in high-visibility vests.

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The Daily Record reported five arrests were made for minor offences, likely smoking and possession of small quantities of cannabis. Taking a less-sensational — and more accurate — line of reporting, the Monday edition of Glasgow’s Evening News stated five were referred to the Procurator Fiscal who is responsible for deciding if charges should be brought.

Official figures provided by the police were that 150 attended. With people coming and going, Wikinews reporters estimated upwards of 200 attended, compared to nearly 700 who had signed up for the event on Facebook. Hemp goods were advertised and on sale at the event, and some attendees were seen drinking cannabis-themed energy drinks.

“I was searched and charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act (which is a lot of bollocks)” one attendee noted online, adding “not fair to happen on a brilliant day like it was, other than that I had a great day!” A second said they were openly smoking and ignored by police, who “were only really focusing on people who looked particularly young”.

Cannabis seeds were openly and legally sold at the event and a hydroponics supplier brought a motortrike towing an advertising trailer. Actually growing cannabis is, however, illegal in the UK.

With the event openly advocating the legalisation of cannabis, speakers put their arguments for this to a receptive crowd. Retired police officer James Duffy, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, spoke of the failed United States alcohol prohibition policy; stressing such policies needlessly bring people into contact with criminal elements. Highlighting other countries where legalisation has been implemented, he pointed out such led to lower crime, and lower drug use overall.

One speaker, who produced a bottle of cannabis oil he had received through the post, asserted this cured his prostate cancer. Others highlighted the current use of Sativex by the National Health Service, with a cost in-excess of £150 for a single bottle of GW Pharmaceuticals patented spray — as-compared to the oil shown to the crowd, with a manufacturing cost of approximately £10.

Similar ‘420’ pro-cannabis events were held globally.

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Flexible displays soon to be in production
May 27, 2020 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Roll up displays for use in hand-held gadgets will be available for mass production by March 2007 according to co-developer Philips. Working with US based paper pioneer E-ink, Philips have developed a 13cm wide screen which is just 0.1 millimetres thick and can be rolled up so that it is only 15 millimetres in diameter.

The screen, which Philips hope to license to makers of in-car satellite navigation systems, mobile web browsers and smart phones, uses no back light and displays a monochrome image in four shades of grey as well as black and white. According to Philips the screen is able to give a “paper-like contrast”.

The screen consists of a backing layer of plastic film which contains a matrix of transistors. This is topped off with layer transparent “electronic ink” capsules and a layer of clear plastic. The capsules are approximately 50 micrometres in diameter and contain polarised black and white particles. Using the transistors, a pattern of positive and negative charge can be applied which manipulates the particles to form monochrome images.

byadmin

If you own your own business, then you are probably already aware just how easy it can be to get lost in the paper work and legalities of ensuring your companies bookkeeping is kept up to date. If you don’t stay on top of this responsibility, then it can make doing your end of year tax preparations more complicated to complete. If you are tired of trying to do this on your own, then you should consider hiring a company to help you with your Bookkeeping in Mountain House, CA. Don’t let the process of finding a firm to help you with your accounting overwhelm you.Use the following three tips so you can make the process easy and worry free.

ReferencesAsk the company you are thinking about using to provide you with references. This should include a list of current clients that you can contact to ask questions about the service they receive. Don’t hire a company until you independently verify their ability to properly maintain your bookkeeping records. This will help ensure you get all the help you deserve.

Licenses and TrainingAsk the firm that you use what training and licenses the employees they hire have. If they don’t use individuals that have the proper training, then it could cause your books to become even more confusing and complicated to understand. After you are given the training infomrat6ion, make sure you research the certifications so you can have an understanding of the education they have.

FeesThe money you pay for the services you receive will vary depending on the size of your business and your current needs. The company you choose may charge a flat fee, or per form that they fill out on your behalf. Make sure you understand all of the fees you are expected to pay upfront, so you can properly budget for the Bookkeeping in Mountain House, CA that you need for your business.

With the right research you can find a bookkeeper who will be able to keep your companies financial information on point. In the Mountain House area, make sure you contact Tax Care Pro by calling them today, or Browse their website for more information. They have over 20 years of experience so you are sure to get the expert help and advice you need to keep your companies financial documents in order now, and in the future.

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Seven Moroccans killed in bus crash in central France
May 24, 2020 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A bus crash in France’s Loire Valley has left seven of the Moroccan passengers dead. 22 of the 32 on board were injured, four critically, after the bus smashed into a concrete pillar on the A10 near Blois in the small hours of yesterday morning.

The bus had departed Tiznit in South Morocco on Wednesday and was headed to the Parisian suburb of Les Mureaux. It had been hired by Aziz, a French company that provides buses to tourists and small traders heading between France and Morocco.

Media images show the vehicle’s front end stuck several feet up the pilar, with the roof trapped against the top of the bridge it supported by the pillar. The entire wreck is left leaning at about a forty degree angle back towards the road, and has left the road at a fairly steep angle directly into the pillar. The remains of a trailer it was towing can be seen still attached at the rear of the coach. Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau, who visited the scene shortly after the accident, said that “The incredible state of the bus showed that the impact was extremely violent.”

The pictures showed the bus was in the livery of travel company Labat.

The French Interior Ministry took the rare step of activating an emergency plan to ensure rapid response from large numbers of rescuers and resources. The scene was attended by four helicopters, 140 firefighters and 25 police officers, who had to free multiple victims from the wreck. The A10 was closed off.

Six died immediately, and the seventh victim died shortly afterwards. All the deceased were adults, and included one of the two drivers, the other of whom was seriously injured. It is unclear which was driving at the time.

Investigators believe no other vehicles were involved, but the exact circumstances remain unclear. “It looks like a loss of control. Is this linked to a mechanical problem, drowsiness or a totally different cause?” Bussereau said at the scene. His ministry’s accident investigation bureau will conduct a major investigation inquiry, and a separate investigation will be launched by local prosecuters.

One possible cause is that the driver fell asleep at the wheel. Investigators are also examining the bus to try to determine any sign of mechanical trouble. There was good weather in the region of the town of Suevres, where the accident occurred, and very little traffic was using the road at the time, thought to be around 2.50am (0050 GMT).

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has announced he will personally pay for care of the injured and repatriation of those killed. He also asked the ambassador to France to pass on his condolences.

Kentucky faith-based agency under fire for religious coercion

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Kentucky faith-based agency under fire for religious coercion
May 24, 2020 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A lawsuit filed by a former employee of Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children (now Sunrise Children’s Services) and four other tax-payers, has shed light on the possibility of religious coercion by the organization. The lawsuit challenges the faith-based agency’s eligibility for state funds.

Specifically, interviews of children conducted by the state of Kentucky have revealed complaints from some of the children. Mainly, children who said they were Catholic, Pentecostal, Jehovah’s Witnesses or atheist voiced complaints in the interviews.

“They tried to more [or] less force me to become a Christian,” said one child in an exit interview. “I just felt I was being pressured into giving up my religion.”

Another child reported s/he was “not allowed to choose when or when not to attend a religious service,” per the interview, and was told “‘to do’ some type of Bible study during that time or get consequences.”

Both the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Sunrise say there is a strict policy against proselytizing in the program and that it does not prevent children from practising their individual faiths.

They also stress that these complaints number merely a “handful” among the approximately 1,500 children that are served by the faith-based agency.

“If a child says, ‘I don’t want to go to the Baptist church,’ then the child does not go,” Jonathan Goldberg, the state’s attorney, said. Some children might have mistankenly believed they were forced to go, he added.

The plaintiffs are seeking to have the interviews unsealed, at least in the cases where the child is now 18 years of age or older. The state and Sunrise argue they need to be kept confidential.

The lawsuit originated with Alicia Pedreira, who was fired in 2000. She alleges her firing was direct result of Sunrise (then Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children) finding out she is a lesbian.

Sunrise Children’s Services provides residential programs and foster care homes for children that have suffered abuse or neglect. Since 2001, Kentucky has paid Sunrise US$61 million to provide the services for children who would otherwise be in direct state custody.

In 2001, the state did find cause for action against one of Sunrise’s homes to fix “a coercive religious environment” where staff members confirmed that church attendance was required.

With accusations of undue pressure by a Christian agency funded by the state, the Sunrise case bears some similitude to the lawsuit against Iowa for paying Chuck Colson’s evangelical agency to run part of its prison.

Last June, U.S. District Judge Robert W. Pratt strongly reprimanded and ruled against Iowa’s use of a Christian social service agency to administer its prison. Judge Pratt stated: “For all practical purposes, the state has literally established an Evangelical Christian congregation within the walls of one of its penal institutions… There are no adequate safeguards present, nor could there be, to ensure that state funds are not being directly spent to indoctrinate Iowa inmates.”

The Iowa ruling is pending appeal.

Critics point to both of these cases as failures of George W. Bush’s faith-based services initiative. The program is often seen as conflicting with the tradition of separation of church and state in the United States.

Latest trial of the One Laptop Per Child running in India; Uruguay orders 100,000 machines

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Latest trial of the One Laptop Per Child running in India; Uruguay orders 100,000 machines
May 23, 2020 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

India is the latest of the countries where the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) experiment has started. Children from the village of Khairat were given the opportunity to learn how to use the XO laptop. During the last year XO was distributed to children from Arahuay in Peru, Ban Samkha in Thailand, Cardal in Uruguay and Galadima in Nigeria. The OLPC team are, in their reports on the startup of the trials, delighted with how the laptop has improved access to information and ability to carry out educational activities. Thailand’s The Nation has praised the project, describing the children as “enthusiastic” and keen to attend school with their laptops.

Recent good news for the project sees Uruguay having ordered 100,000 of the machines which are to be given to children aged six to twelve. Should all go according to plan a further 300,000 machines will be purchased by 2009 to give one to every child in the country. As the first to order, Uruguay chose the OLPC XO laptop over its rival from Intel, the Classmate PC. In parallel with the delivery of the laptops network connectivity will be provided to schools involved in the project.

The remainder of this article is based on Carla G. Munroy’s Khairat Chronicle, which is available from the OLPC Wiki. Additional sources are listed at the end.

Bird Repellent How To Repel?

May 22, 2020 · Bird And Pest Control Products · (No comments)

Bird repellent how to repel?

by

teal smith

Birds are creatures. But some time birds are harmful in some places. So we have to use bird control techniques. Why to use bird repellents? When doing exclusion is certain that you are not trapping birds inside where they may then die. The pigeons are very nice birds but some time they also can be dangerous. The pigeons are different on this case if the chicks of the pigeon are been taken away it will simply move on to another location until the next nesting season. The pigeons create damage in the buildings: dirt on the walls, eaves trough plugging damage to cars and damage to stock in stores and storerooms. Pigeons sing, bob their heads and flutter their wings. Can you resist the cute little things? In cages and in small numbers in trees and forests they re not bothering at all. Bird netting is also very important techniques. Bird netting comes in different sizes. Choosing the correct mesh size is important. You do not want the birds to be able to get into the netted off area and become stuck or trapped. Chemical bird repellent devices include bird taste repelled as well as bird liquid as well as gel. Bird repeller includes bird proof repellent, bird proof liquid repellent as well as bird taste repelled. Bird dropping is the very basic problem with birds. Aside from being unsightly and unhealthy droppings can stop up gutters and down pipes. They can also freeze up ceiling windows and vents as well as rooftop turbine ventilators and siding windows. Bird netting is the best alternate for bird repellent.If you re responsible for an airplane hangar, warehouse or other large area, the bird repellent you want is Bird Netting. You can choose from a variety of net mesh sizes to repel several species of pest birds like pigeons, sparrows. Crows land on edges and protuberances of objects such as buildings, antennas, water tanks, signs and telephone or electricity posts. Nesting Birds are tough to get rid of. Absolute Bird Control gets calls about birds in a garage or barn area often. Again these structures provide perfect shelter. Netting off areas is the best way to get rid of birds. Ideal for a variety of areas in a shopping center, bird spiders are portable bird-control devices that can be readily moved from one location to another. The Spider s long spindly arms waving in the breeze work to scare pest birds away. A very popular exclusionary bird control measure .Bird Netting denies pest bird s access to specific areas like dumpster zones, loading docks and certain rooftop facilities. Calling a pest control professional to help aid with the clean up and installation is your best bet. Bird droppings carry disease and the proper protection is a must.

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Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

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Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate
May 21, 2020 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

Australian treasurer makes “extremely divisive” comments

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Australian treasurer makes “extremely divisive” comments
May 21, 2020 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Australian Federal treasurer Peter Costello, next in line for Prime Minister, has called for Muslim extremists to be stripped of their citizenship. In a speech to the Sydney Institute on the 23rd February, he described multiculturalism as “mushy and misguided”.

Politicians from all sides have spoken out at the remarks and many from the Islamic community say they’re offended by Mr Costello’s comments, with Muslim leaders saying that it is “extremely divisive” and a blight on Australia’s international reputation.

Mr Costello particularly singled out Muslims in his remarks, saying extremists should move to countries where they feel more comfortable. Mr Costello’s comments targeting Muslim extremists, won support from Prime Minister John Howard, and controversial ex-politician Pauline Hanson.

“Before entering a mosque visitors are asked to take off their shoes,” Mr Costello said. “This is a sign of respect. If you have a strong objection to walking in your socks don’t enter the mosque. Before becoming an Australian you will be asked to subscribe to certain values. If you have strong objection to those values don’t come to Australia.”

Abdul El Ayoubi, a director of the Lebanese Muslim Association said, “it’s upsetting to hear such comments, especially when you consider that the majority of Muslims have accepted the Australian way of life and Australian values.”

45 per cent of Australia’s population are from culturally diverse backgrounds. The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) has called for tolerance rather than division. “Peter Costello’s comments are divisive, arrogant, provocative and do nothing to unite the nation at a time when responsible leadership on this issue is called for,” ECCV chairman Phong Nguyen said.

“To have the leaders of our nation, such at the Prime Minister and Treasurer, making gratuitous comments about race and religion based on ill-founded perceptions rather than facts, is extremely divisive and will harm Australia nationally and internationally,” he said.

Mr Nguyen said Mr Costello appeared to be aligning himself with the “now discredited argument of his colleague Danna Vale – that Australia is in danger of becoming a Muslim nation”.

In his speech Mr Costello made a public call for Muslims who want to live under sharia law to find another country, while also referring to “mushy multiculturalism”.

Justin Li, vice chair of the NSW Ethnic Communities’ Council, said Mr Costello’s comments had deliberately and unfairly targeted Muslims.

“Obviously nobody supports violent people in our society, but what we don’t understand is why allegedly violent Muslims are any different from any violent people of other cultures or religions,” he said. “What about deporting the people who participated in riots in Cronulla last year? Those people did not exhibit any Australian values in their actions.”

Mr Li added the comments were “political point scoring” made to sit well with sections of the community which do not support multiculturalism. “Our political leaders think that there is advantage to be gained making comments against our Muslim Australians at this stage in time,” he said.

Malcolm Thomas from the Islamic Foundation of Victoria says it’s the fact that Mr Costello singled out Muslims. “If you remove the word Muslim from what he said, well then I totally agree with Peter. Yeah, I’m prepared, just as much as Peter, to be as intolerant to anyone who wants to attack Australia and the Australian values, irrespective of their race or religion or ethnicity,” said Mr Thomas. “Language is everything. The words are marginalising a segment of our community and creating division within the community.”

Mr Thomas also points out that the suggestion to strip people of citizenship has limited potential, given that a third of Muslims living here were born here. “Australian Muslims are Australian. We can’t differentiate that. And I think people need to keep that in mind.” he said.

Another Muslim community leader said Costello is promoting division and Islamophobia and should be censured. Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, has said he genuinely hoped the Prime Minister would censure Mr Costello.

Mr Trad said nobody was protesting Australia’s secular laws through any other means than the normal democratic process. “We have not asked for sharia law to be imposed. I don’t know anyone in this country who is asking for sharia law to be imposed and I don’t known anyone in this country who has rejected the rule of law,” he told ABC radio. “Rather than try to promote understanding and harmony in this society, his comments are highly divisive and he is stirring up Islamophobia, and these comments should really be beneath any decent politician.”

In his speech, Mr Costello said where there was reason to believe people were not truthfully or honestly meeting their citizenship test, there was every right for them to be denied citizenship.

“If by subsequent conduct they show that they don’t meet the test then we could invite them to forfeit their Australian citizenship,” he said. “Now you can only do this if they have another citizenship.”

But Mr El Ayoubi said: “If you’ve come to this country, you’ve come to this country to live under a democratic system and you’ve come into this country to abide by the rules, the principles and the values of this country, and you should do that.”

Mr Costello emphasised that Australia is a secular state under which the freedom of all religions is protected. “But there is not a separate stream of law derived from religious sources that competes with or supplants Australian law in governing our civil society,” he said. “The source of our law is the democratically elected legislature. If a person wants to live under sharia law these are countries where they might feel at ease. But not Australia.”

Mr Costello said there were some beliefs and values which were so central to Australian society that those who refused to accept them refused to accept the nature of Australian society.

“If someone cannot honestly make the citizenship pledge, they cannot honestly take out citizenship,” he said. “If they have taken it out already they should not be able to keep it where they have citizenship in some other country.”

His comments follow Prime Minister John Howard’s claims this week that a fragment of the Islamic community is “utterly antagonistic to our kind of society”. Last week Liberal backbencher Danna Vale said that Australia could become a Muslim nation within 50 years because “we are aborting ourselves almost out of existence”.

Mr Costello said he had attended an Australia day citizenship ceremony at the Stonnington Town Hall in his electorate of Higgins during which a state MP “extolled the virtues of multiculturalism”. He said the MP said becoming an Australian did not mean giving up one’s culture or language or religion — and it certainly did not mean giving up the love of their country of birth.

“The longer he went on about how important it was not to give up anything to become an Australian, the more it seemed to me that, in his view, becoming an Australian didn’t seem to mean very much at all, other than getting a new passport.”

Islamic Council of Victoria president Malcolm Thomas said he was disappointed at Mr Costello’s speech. “We have had the uninformed comments of Danna Vale, we have had the comments made by the Prime Minister and now we have these comments — all they do is reinforce a stereotype which doesn’t exist.” Mr Thomas said that singling out Muslims was pandering to a conspiracy that Muslims wanted to overtake Australia.

“Australian Muslims are Australians first,” he said. “They abide by the law and they want to live here in peace and harmony. They are not interested in taking over the country. They are not interested in creating a theocracy”.

Ikebal Patel, an executive member of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said the comments were “inflammatory”. “Islam law teaches that when you go into a country you embrace the laws of that country,” Mr Patel said. “I hope we are not going away from multiculturalism as the founding stone of our immigration policy.”

Mr Patel said the timing of the comments smacked of an attempt by the Government to deflect attention from the AWB scandal.

Mr Costello said Muslims who did not like the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in newspapers should recognise this does not justify violence.

U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

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U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images
May 21, 2020 · Uncategorized · (No comments)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The English National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London has threatened on Friday to sue a U.S. citizen, Derrick Coetzee. The legal letter followed claims that he had breached the Gallery’s copyright in several thousand photographs of works of art uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons, a free online media repository.

In a letter from their solicitors sent to Coetzee via electronic mail, the NPG asserted that it holds copyright in the photographs under U.K. law, and demanded that Coetzee provide various undertakings and remove all of the images from the site (referred to in the letter as “the Wikipedia website”).

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of free-to-use media, run by a community of volunteers from around the world, and is a sister project to Wikinews and the encyclopedia Wikipedia. Coetzee, who contributes to the Commons using the account “Dcoetzee”, had uploaded images that are free for public use under United States law, where he and the website are based. However copyright is claimed to exist in the country where the gallery is situated.

The complaint by the NPG is that under UK law, its copyright in the photographs of its portraits is being violated. While the gallery has complained to the Wikimedia Foundation for a number of years, this is the first direct threat of legal action made against an actual uploader of images. In addition to the allegation that Coetzee had violated the NPG’s copyright, they also allege that Coetzee had, by uploading thousands of images in bulk, infringed the NPG’s database right, breached a contract with the NPG; and circumvented a copyright protection mechanism on the NPG’s web site.

The copyright protection mechanism referred to is Zoomify, a product of Zoomify, Inc. of Santa Cruz, California. NPG’s solicitors stated in their letter that “Our client used the Zoomify technology to protect our client’s copyright in the high resolution images.”. Zoomify Inc. states in the Zoomify support documentation that its product is intended to make copying of images “more difficult” by breaking the image into smaller pieces and disabling the option within many web browsers to click and save images, but that they “provide Zoomify as a viewing solution and not an image security system”.

In particular, Zoomify’s website comments that while “many customers — famous museums for example” use Zoomify, in their experience a “general consensus” seems to exist that most museums are concerned with making the images in their galleries accessible to the public, rather than preventing the public from accessing them or making copies; they observe that a desire to prevent high resolution images being distributed would also imply prohibiting the sale of any posters or production of high quality printed material that could be scanned and placed online.

Other actions in the past have come directly from the NPG, rather than via solicitors. For example, several edits have been made directly to the English-language Wikipedia from the IP address 217.207.85.50, one of sixteen such IP addresses assigned to computers at the NPG by its ISP, Easynet.

In the period from August 2005 to July 2006 an individual within the NPG using that IP address acted to remove the use of several Wikimedia Commons pictures from articles in Wikipedia, including removing an image of the Chandos portrait, which the NPG has had in its possession since 1856, from Wikipedia’s biographical article on William Shakespeare.

Other actions included adding notices to the pages for images, and to the text of several articles using those images, such as the following edit to Wikipedia’s article on Catherine of Braganza and to its page for the Wikipedia Commons image of Branwell Brontë‘s portrait of his sisters:

“THIS IMAGE IS BEING USED WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER.”
“This image is copyright material and must not be reproduced in any way without permission of the copyright holder. Under current UK copyright law, there is copyright in skilfully executed photographs of ex-copyright works, such as this painting of Catherine de Braganza.
The original painting belongs to the National Portrait Gallery, London. For copies, and permission to reproduce the image, please contact the Gallery at picturelibrary@npg.org.uk or via our website at www.npg.org.uk”

Other, later, edits, made on the day that NPG’s solicitors contacted Coetzee and drawn to the NPG’s attention by Wikinews, are currently the subject of an internal investigation within the NPG.

Coetzee published the contents of the letter on Saturday July 11, the letter itself being dated the previous day. It had been sent electronically to an email address associated with his Wikimedia Commons user account. The NPG’s solicitors had mailed the letter from an account in the name “Amisquitta”. This account was blocked shortly after by a user with access to the user blocking tool, citing a long standing Wikipedia policy that the making of legal threats and creation of a hostile environment is generally inconsistent with editing access and is an inappropriate means of resolving user disputes.

The policy, initially created on Commons’ sister website in June 2004, is also intended to protect all parties involved in a legal dispute, by ensuring that their legal communications go through proper channels, and not through a wiki that is open to editing by other members of the public. It was originally formulated primarily to address legal action for libel. In October 2004 it was noted that there was “no consensus” whether legal threats related to copyright infringement would be covered but by the end of 2006 the policy had reached a consensus that such threats (as opposed to polite complaints) were not compatible with editing access while a legal matter was unresolved. Commons’ own website states that “[accounts] used primarily to create a hostile environment for another user may be blocked”.

In a further response, Gregory Maxwell, a volunteer administrator on Wikimedia Commons, made a formal request to the editorial community that Coetzee’s access to administrator tools on Commons should be revoked due to the prevailing circumstances. Maxwell noted that Coetzee “[did] not have the technically ability to permanently delete images”, but stated that Coetzee’s potential legal situation created a conflict of interest.

Sixteen minutes after Maxwell’s request, Coetzee’s “administrator” privileges were removed by a user in response to the request. Coetzee retains “administrator” privileges on the English-language Wikipedia, since none of the images exist on Wikipedia’s own website and therefore no conflict of interest exists on that site.

Legally, the central issue upon which the case depends is that copyright laws vary between countries. Under United States case law, where both the website and Coetzee are located, a photograph of a non-copyrighted two-dimensional picture (such as a very old portrait) is not capable of being copyrighted, and it may be freely distributed and used by anyone. Under UK law that point has not yet been decided, and the Gallery’s solicitors state that such photographs could potentially be subject to copyright in that country.

One major legal point upon which a case would hinge, should the NPG proceed to court, is a question of originality. The U.K.’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines in ¶ 1(a) that copyright is a right that subsists in “original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works” (emphasis added). The legal concept of originality here involves the simple origination of a work from an author, and does not include the notions of novelty or innovation that is often associated with the non-legal meaning of the word.

Whether an exact photographic reproduction of a work is an original work will be a point at issue. The NPG asserts that an exact photographic reproduction of a copyrighted work in another medium constitutes an original work, and this would be the basis for its action against Coetzee. This view has some support in U.K. case law. The decision of Walter v Lane held that exact transcriptions of speeches by journalists, in shorthand on reporter’s notepads, were original works, and thus copyrightable in themselves. The opinion by Hugh Laddie, Justice Laddie, in his book The Modern Law of Copyright, points out that photographs lie on a continuum, and that photographs can be simple copies, derivative works, or original works:

“[…] it is submitted that a person who makes a photograph merely by placing a drawing or painting on the glass of a photocopying machine and pressing the button gets no copyright at all; but he might get a copyright if he employed skill and labour in assembling the thing to be photocopied, as where he made a montage.”

Various aspects of this continuum have already been explored in the courts. Justice Neuberger, in the decision at Antiquesportfolio.com v Rodney Fitch & Co. held that a photograph of a three-dimensional object would be copyrightable if some exercise of judgement of the photographer in matters of angle, lighting, film speed, and focus were involved. That exercise would create an original work. Justice Oliver similarly held, in Interlego v Tyco Industries, that “[i]t takes great skill, judgement and labour to produce a good copy by painting or to produce an enlarged photograph from a positive print, but no-one would reasonably contend that the copy, painting, or enlargement was an ‘original’ artistic work in which the copier is entitled to claim copyright. Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”.

In 2000 the Museums Copyright Group, a copyright lobbying group, commissioned a report and legal opinion on the implications of the Bridgeman case for the UK, which stated:

“Revenue raised from reproduction fees and licensing is vital to museums to support their primary educational and curatorial objectives. Museums also rely on copyright in photographs of works of art to protect their collections from inaccurate reproduction and captioning… as a matter of principle, a photograph of an artistic work can qualify for copyright protection in English law”. The report concluded by advocating that “museums must continue to lobby” to protect their interests, to prevent inferior quality images of their collections being distributed, and “not least to protect a vital source of income”.

Several people and organizations in the U.K. have been awaiting a test case that directly addresses the issue of copyrightability of exact photographic reproductions of works in other media. The commonly cited legal case Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. found that there is no originality where the aim and the result is a faithful and exact reproduction of the original work. The case was heard twice in New York, once applying UK law and once applying US law. It cited the prior UK case of Interlego v Tyco Industries (1988) in which Lord Oliver stated that “Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”

“What is important about a drawing is what is visually significant and the re-drawing of an existing drawing […] does not make it an original artistic work, however much labour and skill may have gone into the process of reproduction […]”

The Interlego judgement had itself drawn upon another UK case two years earlier, Coca-Cola Go’s Applications, in which the House of Lords drew attention to the “undesirability” of plaintiffs seeking to expand intellectual property law beyond the purpose of its creation in order to create an “undeserving monopoly”. It commented on this, that “To accord an independent artistic copyright to every such reproduction would be to enable the period of artistic copyright in what is, essentially, the same work to be extended indefinitely… ”

The Bridgeman case concluded that whether under UK or US law, such reproductions of copyright-expired material were not capable of being copyrighted.

The unsuccessful plaintiff, Bridgeman Art Library, stated in 2006 in written evidence to the House of Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport that it was “looking for a similar test case in the U.K. or Europe to fight which would strengthen our position”.

The National Portrait Gallery is a non-departmental public body based in London England and sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Founded in 1856, it houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. The gallery contains more than 11,000 portraits and 7,000 light-sensitive works in its Primary Collection, 320,000 in the Reference Collection, over 200,000 pictures and negatives in the Photographs Collection and a library of around 35,000 books and manuscripts. (More on the National Portrait Gallery here)

The gallery’s solicitors are Farrer & Co LLP, of London. Farrer’s clients have notably included the British Royal Family, in a case related to extracts from letters sent by Diana, Princess of Wales which were published in a book by ex-butler Paul Burrell. (In that case, the claim was deemed unlikely to succeed, as the extracts were not likely to be in breach of copyright law.)

Farrer & Co have close ties with industry interest groups related to copyright law. Peter Wienand, Head of Intellectual Property at Farrer & Co., is a member of the Executive body of the Museums Copyright Group, which is chaired by Tom Morgan, Head of Rights and Reproductions at the National Portrait Gallery. The Museums Copyright Group acts as a lobbying organization for “the interests and activities of museums and galleries in the area of [intellectual property rights]”, which reacted strongly against the Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. case.

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of images, media, and other material free for use by anyone in the world. It is operated by a community of 21,000 active volunteers, with specialist rights such as deletion and blocking restricted to around 270 experienced users in the community (known as “administrators”) who are trusted by the community to use them to enact the wishes and policies of the community. Commons is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a charitable body whose mission is to make available free knowledge and historic and other material which is legally distributable under US law. (More on Commons here)

The legal threat also sparked discussions of moral issues and issues of public policy in several Internet discussion fora, including Slashdot, over the weekend. One major public policy issue relates to how the public domain should be preserved.

Some of the public policy debate over the weekend has echoed earlier opinions presented by Kenneth Hamma, the executive director for Digital Policy at the J. Paul Getty Trust. Writing in D-Lib Magazine in November 2005, Hamma observed:

“Art museums and many other collecting institutions in this country hold a trove of public-domain works of art. These are works whose age precludes continued protection under copyright law. The works are the result of and evidence for human creativity over thousands of years, an activity museums celebrate by their very existence. For reasons that seem too frequently unexamined, many museums erect barriers that contribute to keeping quality images of public domain works out of the hands of the general public, of educators, and of the general milieu of creativity. In restricting access, art museums effectively take a stand against the creativity they otherwise celebrate. This conflict arises as a result of the widely accepted practice of asserting rights in the images that the museums make of the public domain works of art in their collections.”

He also stated:

“This resistance to free and unfettered access may well result from a seemingly well-grounded concern: many museums assume that an important part of their core business is the acquisition and management of rights in art works to maximum return on investment. That might be true in the case of the recording industry, but it should not be true for nonprofit institutions holding public domain art works; it is not even their secondary business. Indeed, restricting access seems all the more inappropriate when measured against a museum’s mission — a responsibility to provide public access. Their charitable, financial, and tax-exempt status demands such. The assertion of rights in public domain works of art — images that at their best closely replicate the values of the original work — differs in almost every way from the rights managed by the recording industry. Because museums and other similar collecting institutions are part of the private nonprofit sector, the obligation to treat assets as held in public trust should replace the for-profit goal. To do otherwise, undermines the very nature of what such institutions were created to do.”

Hamma observed in 2005 that “[w]hile examples of museums chasing down digital image miscreants are rare to non-existent, the expectation that museums might do so has had a stultifying effect on the development of digital image libraries for teaching and research.”

The NPG, which has been taking action with respect to these images since at least 2005, is a public body. It was established by Act of Parliament, the current Act being the Museums and Galleries Act 1992. In that Act, the NPG Board of Trustees is charged with maintaining “a collection of portraits of the most eminent persons in British history, of other works of art relevant to portraiture and of documents relating to those portraits and other works of art”. It also has the tasks of “secur[ing] that the portraits are exhibited to the public” and “generally promot[ing] the public’s enjoyment and understanding of portraiture of British persons and British history through portraiture both by means of the Board’s collection and by such other means as they consider appropriate”.

Several commentators have questioned how the NPG’s statutory goals align with its threat of legal action. Mike Masnick, founder of Techdirt, asked “The people who run the Gallery should be ashamed of themselves. They ought to go back and read their own mission statement[. …] How, exactly, does suing someone for getting those portraits more attention achieve that goal?” (external link Masnick’s). L. Sutherland of Bigmouthmedia asked “As the paintings of the NPG technically belong to the nation, does that mean that they should also belong to anyone that has access to a computer?”

Other public policy debates that have been sparked have included the applicability of U.K. courts, and U.K. law, to the actions of a U.S. citizen, residing in the U.S., uploading files to servers hosted in the U.S.. Two major schools of thought have emerged. Both see the issue as encroachment of one legal system upon another. But they differ as to which system is encroaching. One view is that the free culture movement is attempting to impose the values and laws of the U.S. legal system, including its case law such as Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., upon the rest of the world. Another view is that a U.K. institution is attempting to control, through legal action, the actions of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.

David Gerard, former Press Officer for Wikimedia UK, the U.K. chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, which has been involved with the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest to create free content photographs of exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum, stated on Slashdot that “The NPG actually acknowledges in their letter that the poster’s actions were entirely legal in America, and that they’re making a threat just because they think they can. The Wikimedia community and the WMF are absolutely on the side of these public domain images remaining in the public domain. The NPG will be getting radioactive publicity from this. Imagine the NPG being known to American tourists as somewhere that sues Americans just because it thinks it can.”

Benjamin Crowell, a physics teacher at Fullerton College in California, stated that he had received a letter from the Copyright Officer at the NPG in 2004, with respect to the picture of the portrait of Isaac Newton used in his physics textbooks, that he publishes in the U.S. under a free content copyright licence, to which he had replied with a pointer to Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp..

The Wikimedia Foundation takes a similar stance. Erik Möller, the Deputy Director of the US-based Wikimedia Foundation wrote in 2008 that “we’ve consistently held that faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works which are nothing more than reproductions should be considered public domain for licensing purposes”.

Contacted over the weekend, the NPG issued a statement to Wikinews:

“The National Portrait Gallery is very strongly committed to giving access to its Collection. In the past five years the Gallery has spent around £1 million digitising its Collection to make it widely available for study and enjoyment. We have so far made available on our website more than 60,000 digital images, which have attracted millions of users, and we believe this extensive programme is of great public benefit.
“The Gallery supports Wikipedia in its aim of making knowledge widely available and we would be happy for the site to use our low-resolution images, sufficient for most forms of public access, subject to safeguards. However, in March 2009 over 3000 high-resolution files were appropriated from the National Portrait Gallery website and published on Wikipedia without permission.
“The Gallery is very concerned that potential loss of licensing income from the high-resolution files threatens its ability to reinvest in its digitisation programme and so make further images available. It is one of the Gallery’s primary purposes to make as much of the Collection available as possible for the public to view.
“Digitisation involves huge costs including research, cataloguing, conservation and highly-skilled photography. Images then need to be made available on the Gallery website as part of a structured and authoritative database. To date, Wikipedia has not responded to our requests to discuss the issue and so the National Portrait Gallery has been obliged to issue a lawyer’s letter. The Gallery remains willing to enter into a dialogue with Wikipedia.

In fact, Matthew Bailey, the Gallery’s (then) Assistant Picture Library Manager, had already once been in a similar dialogue. Ryan Kaldari, an amateur photographer from Nashville, Tennessee, who also volunteers at the Wikimedia Commons, states that he was in correspondence with Bailey in October 2006. In that correspondence, according to Kaldari, he and Bailey failed to conclude any arrangement.

Jay Walsh, the Head of Communications for the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the Commons, called the gallery’s actions “unfortunate” in the Foundation’s statement, issued on Tuesday July 14:

“The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. To that end, we have very productive working relationships with a number of galleries, archives, museums and libraries around the world, who join with us to make their educational materials available to the public.
“The Wikimedia Foundation does not control user behavior, nor have we reviewed every action taken by that user. Nonetheless, it is our general understanding that the user in question has behaved in accordance with our mission, with the general goal of making public domain materials available via our Wikimedia Commons project, and in accordance with applicable law.”

The Foundation added in its statement that as far as it was aware, the NPG had not attempted “constructive dialogue”, and that the volunteer community was presently discussing the matter independently.

In part, the lack of past agreement may have been because of a misunderstanding by the National Portrait Gallery of Commons and Wikipedia’s free content mandate; and of the differences between Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia Commons, and the individual volunteer workers who participate on the various projects supported by the Foundation.

Like Coetzee, Ryan Kaldari is a volunteer worker who does not represent Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Commons. (Such representation is impossible. Both Wikipedia and the Commons are endeavours supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, and not organizations in themselves.) Nor, again like Coetzee, does he represent the Wikimedia Foundation.

Kaldari states that he explained the free content mandate to Bailey. Bailey had, according to copies of his messages provided by Kaldari, offered content to Wikipedia (naming as an example the photograph of John Opie‘s 1797 portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, whose copyright term has since expired) but on condition that it not be free content, but would be subject to restrictions on its distribution that would have made it impossible to use by any of the many organizations that make use of Wikipedia articles and the Commons repository, in the way that their site-wide “usable by anyone” licences ensures.

The proposed restrictions would have also made it impossible to host the images on Wikimedia Commons. The image of the National Portrait Gallery in this article, above, is one such free content image; it was provided and uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence, and is thus able to be used and republished not only on Wikipedia but also on Wikinews, on other Wikimedia Foundation projects, as well as by anyone in the world, subject to the terms of the GFDL, a license that guarantees attribution is provided to the creators of the image.

As Commons has grown, many other organizations have come to different arrangements with volunteers who work at the Wikimedia Commons and at Wikipedia. For example, in February 2009, fifteen international museums including the Brooklyn Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum established a month-long competition where users were invited to visit in small teams and take high quality photographs of their non-copyright paintings and other exhibits, for upload to Wikimedia Commons and similar websites (with restrictions as to equipment, required in order to conserve the exhibits), as part of the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest.

Approached for comment by Wikinews, Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, said “It’s pretty clear that these images themselves should be in the public domain. There is a clear public interest in making sure paintings and other works are usable by anyone once their term of copyright expires. This is what US courts have recognised, whatever the situation in UK law.”

The Digital Britain report, issued by the U.K.’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport in June 2009, stated that “Public cultural institutions like Tate, the Royal Opera House, the RSC, the Film Council and many other museums, libraries, archives and galleries around the country now reach a wider public online.” Culture minster Ben Bradshaw was also approached by Wikinews for comment on the public policy issues surrounding the on-line availability of works in the public domain held in galleries, re-raised by the NPG’s threat of legal action, but had not responded by publication time.