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As Journalists Arrested in Turkey & Pushed in Haiti, UN Lounges

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 14 -- Amid the arrest of journalists in Turkey under Erdogan, see Ekrem Dumanli's tweet, here, from the UN there is a silence. This amid warnings of up to 150 journalists to be arrested.

 The space just outside the UN Security Council is named the "Turkish Lounge" -- tellingly, the press is banned from it. But where is Ban Ki-moon, and his Censorship Alliance?

  Ban is slated to attend as they give an award to Turkish billionaire profit education magnate whose firm Bahcesehir Ugur is at least 48% owned by the Carlyle Group. The president of UNCA is Italian (so, an award, for Haiti without reference to cholera or MINUSTAH shooting at protesters and pushing journalists around, to Andrea Bocelli), and the vice president is Turkish (hence, Enver Yucel) - is this any coincidence?  The latter chimes in to note scholarships by Enver Yucel, saying these should be encouraged and not discouraged. We note this, as offered to the former - but dispute that association with the UN's Censorship Alliance is "encouraging."

  On the same day, the sentencing of Barret Brown is scheduled, and the US government is fighting to keep all filings confidential from the press and public.

Back on April 18, after Turkey's Erdogan shut down Twitter and YouTube, US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Doug Frantz advised to go after leakers, like the US has after Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, and not after the technology: lessons in censorship? Kinder and gentler censorship? From the US transcript:

"The release of the taped conversations involving the prime minister were certainly alarming and fascinating. I thought that the last one involving the Fidan conversation was shocking. I think that represented a clear violation of national security in Turkey. And Ė but the way we handle that in the United States, I think, can be illustrated by the Snowden case. You punish the leaker, or by the Chelsea Manning in WikiLeaks case, you punish the leaker; you donít punish the technology. And I think thatís a critical difference. Otherwise, as I said, youíre dealing with a blunt instrument. You donít want to take Twitter or YouTube or any other social media way from the millions of people who use it and who use it freely and legally."

  Or one can just try to remove from or block particular things on the Internet. Frantz's advise  follows Turkey's Erdogan, after using copyright law to censor, moving on to tax law. Twitter has been told it is a tax evader in Turkey.

  Tax law was good enough to take down Al Capone, so why not use it in the service of censorship? Likewise, to Google's YouTube Erdoban cited the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, allow for take-down or banning from Search of material that is copyrighted.

   But can phone calls be copyrighted? As detailed below on Reuters' specious claim, can "for the record" complaints to the UN against other media later be called copyrighted, and Banned from Google's search?

  Turkey banned all of YouTube, after its foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu declared, "a cyber attack has been carried out against the Turkish Republic, our state and our valued nation."

  Actually, the leaked call concerned plans to intervene in Syria, ostensibly to protect the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, including the proposed creation of a false rocket incident.

  Intelligence chief Hakam Fidan says, "if there is to be justification, the justification is, I send four men to the other side. I get them to fire eight missiles into empty land. That's not a problem. Justification can be created."

  The national security argument for banning YouTube, by the country sponsoring the Press-less "Turkish Lounge" right next to the UN Security Council, follows Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan claiming he could copyright his leaked telephone calls, like Reuters at the UN claimed of its e-mail to the UN, sketched below and shown here.

   This use of copyright to try to censor has echoes in the UN -- and in Ukraine, where the Svoboda Party tried to get videos of its Members of Parliament beating up a news executive taken down as violations of copyright.

 On the Guardian website on March 21, where the video had been was a notice that "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim."

The New York Times reported that late on March 20, YouTube copies of the video were taken down "for violating the copyright of the Svoboda party spokesman, who seems to be working to erase the evidence from the Internet through legal means."

   This is a growing trend. As set forth below, an anti-Press complaint to the UN's Stephane Dujarric, now Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson, has been banned from Google's Search by an invocation of copyright similar to Erdogan's.

  On March 21, Dujarric from Kyiv told Inner City Press neither he nor, he assuumed, Ban had seen the Svoboda beat-down video. This seems noteworthy, given its prominence in Ukraine. Now we can add: perhaps Ban and Dujarric didn't see it due to the same censorship by copyright that has for now banned an anti Press complaint to them from Google's Search.

  But, as Inner City Press first reported on March 23, Ban while in Kyiv DID meet with the leader of the Svoboda Party. The UN has for now refused to answer whether Ban knew in advance who would be present.

  As to Twitter, Dujarric in his previous post in charge of UN Media Accreditation grilled Inner City Press about a tweet mentioning World War Two - the basis for example of France's veto power in the Security Council, which it parlayed into essentially permanent ownership of the top post in UN Peacekeeping, now though Herve Ladsous (coverage of whom Dujarric tried to dictate, or advise, Inner City Press about.)

   Dujarric's now bipolar tweeting has intersected with a recently revived anonymous trolling campaign which originated in the UN Correspondents Association, in support of the Sri Lankan government, alleging that any coverage of the abuse of Tamils must be funded by the now defunct Tamil Tigers.

  These outright attempts to censor are echoed, more genteelly, even as part of the UN press briefings these days. When Dujarric took eight questions on March 20 on Ban's essentially failed trip to Moscow, fully half went to representatives of UNCA's 15 member executive committee, including state media from Turkey, France and the United States. Other questions -- by Twitter -- were not answered, except those from explicitly pro-UN sources. These are the UN's circles.

   Google has accepted and acted on DMCA complaints about leaked e-mails, for example from Reuters to the United Nations seeking to get the investigative Press thrown out, and has then blocked access to the leaked documents from its search.

  Of this abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry told Inner City Press about the Reuters case:

"Unfortunately, it is all too easy for a copyright holder (assuming that the person that sent this notice actually held copyright in the email) to abuse the DMCA to take down content and stifle legitimate speech. As countries outside the US consider adopting DMCA-like procedures, they must make sure they include strong protections for free speech, such as significant penalties for takedown abuse."

  In this case, copyright is being (mis) claimed for an email from Reuters' Louis Charbonneau to the UN's chief Media Accreditation official Stephane Dujarric -- since March 10 Ban Ki-moon's new spokesperson -- seeking to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. 

  Access to the document has been blocked from Google's search based on a cursory take-down request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

 If this remains precedent, what else could come down?

  Why not an email from Iran, for example, to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency? Why not a sanctions filing by a country? Here is Reuters logic, accepted if only automatically by Google:

The copyrighted material is a private email I wrote in April 2012 and for which I never gave permission to be published. It has been published on a blog and appears in on the first page of search results for my name and the firm I work for, Reuters. It can be seen here: http://www.innercitypress.com/reutersLC3unmalu.pdf

  But this is true of ANY leaked document: it can be said that the entity or person exposed "never gave permission [for it] to be published." Does that mean Google can or should block search access to it?


Reuters' Charbonneau hands to Ban at UNCA: banned from Search?

  Can a complaint to a Media Accreditation official against a competitor legitimately be considered "private"? In any event, the DMCA is not about protecting privacy.

  Iran or North Korea could say a filing or status report they make with the IAEA is "private" and was not intended to be published. Would Google, receiving a DMCA filing, block access to the information on, say, Reuters.com?

  Charbonneau's bad-faith argument says his complaint to the UN was "published on a blog." Is THAT what Reuters claims makes it different that publication in some other media?

  The logic of Reuters' and Charbonneau's August 14, 2013 filing with Google, put online via the ChillingEffects.org project, is profoundly anti free press.

  The fact that Google accepts or didn't check, to remain in the DMCA Safe Harbor, the filing makes it even worse. The request to take-down wasn't made to InnerCityPress.com or its server -- it would have been rejected. But banning a page from Search has the same censoring effect.

  The US has a regime to protect freedom of the press, and against prior restraint. But this is a loophole, exploited cynically by Reuters. What if a media conducted a long investigation of a mayor, fueled by a leaked email. When the story was published, could the Mayor make a Reuters-like filing with Google and get it blocked?

  Here is the text of Charbonneau's communication to the UN's top Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit official Stephane Dujarric and MALU's manager, to which he claimed "copyright" and for now has banned from Google's Search:

Hi Isabelle and Stephane,

I just wanted to pass on for the record that I was just confronted by Matt Lee in the DHL auditorium in very hostile fashion a short while ago (there were several witnesses, including Giampaolo). He's obviously gotten wind that there's a movement afoot to expel him from the UNCA executive committee, though he doesn't know the details yet. But he was going out of his way to be as intimidating and aggressive as possible towards me, told me I "disgust" him, etc.

In all my 20+ years of reporting I've never been approached like that by a follow journalist in any press corps, no matter how stressful things got. He's become someone who's making it very hard for me and others in the UN press to do our jobs. His harassment of fellow reporters is reaching a new fever pitch.

I just thought you should know this.

Cheers,

Lou
Louis Charbonneau
Bureau Chief. United Nations
Reuters News Thomson Reuters reuters. com

This email was sent to you by Thomson Reuters, the global news and information company.

"UNCA" in the for-now banned e-mail is the United Nations Correspondents Association. The story developed here, as to Sri Lanka; here is a sample pick-up this past weekend in Italian, to which we link and give full credit, translated into English (NOT for now by Google) --

The fool of Reuters to the UN

by Mahesh - 12/27/2013 -calls for the removal of a letter from the head of his bureau at the United Nations, pursuing a copyright infringement on the part of the competition

Try to make out a small competitor from the UN press room and then, when these publish proof of intrigue, invokes the copyright to release a letter from compromising the network.

MOLESTA-AGENCY  Inner City Press is a small non-profit agency covering the work of the United Nations for years, with an original cut, which become distasteful to many. Unlike other matching its founder master sent never tires of asking account of inconsistencies and contradictions and often refers to unpleasant situations involving colleagues and their reportage, too often twisted to obvious political contingencies.

THE LAST CAVITY Ė In this case the clutch is born when Matthew Lee, Inner City Press ever since he founded and made famous in the 90 's, challenged the screening of "Lies Agreed Upon" in the auditorium of the United Nations, a filmaccio of propaganda in which the Sri Lankan regime tries to deny the now tested massacres (and destroyed by International Crisis Group). In the piece, in which denounced the incident, Lee also announced that the screening was organized by the President of the United Nations Correspondents (UNCA), Italian Giampaolo Pioli, skipping the normal consultation procedure for this kind of events. Pioli then, was also accused of being in a conflict of interest, given that he rented an apartment in New York an apartment to the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Sri Lanka, named Palitha Kohona and is suspected of war crimes.

TRY WITH THE COPYRIGHT- So he comes to the letter with which Louis Charbonneau, Reuters bureau chief at the United Nations, wrote to the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (MALU) calling for the ouster of Lee, which the UN being there for years as his colleagues, but we see that this was not done. Lee, however, comes into possession of the letter and publish it, and then writes to Google millantando Charbonneau the copyright on the letter and asking for removal pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That is a bit like if a company request the removal of a compromising document from a journalistic investigation, in the name of copyright, a claim clearly absurd and disingenuous.

HARASSMENT AND THREATS- In the letter published, Charbonneau complained about the aggressive behavior of Lee and cited among the witnesses to cases where Lee had been "aggressive" towards him even Pioli. Lee with that piece has gained throughout a hail of protests from Sri Lanka and an investigation by the UNCA, along with death threats and other well-known amenities the refugees away from the clutches of the regime, but it is still there. Behold then the brilliant idea of Charbonneau, improperly used copyright law to censor the objectionable publications to a colleague and competitor. Pity that Lee has already resisted successfully in similar cases, in 2008 was the same Google to remove your site from being indexed in the news in its search engines, it is unclear what impetus behind, only to regret it soon after that even Fox News had cried scandal.


 

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