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AFP sues Musk’s X for refusing to enter news reuse payment talks on August 3, 2023 at 9:07 am

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Elon Musk-owned X, formerly Twitter, is facing legal action brought under copyright law in France. The Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency has announced it’s suing the social media platform over what it calls a “clear refusal” to enter into discussions with it about remuneration for the sharing of its news content on X.

AFP said it’s seeking an urgent injunction from a court in Paris to compel X to provide it with the necessary information on reuse of its content so it can calculate how much money it is due under France’s neighboring rights legislation.

“[AFP] has expressed its concerns over the clear refusal from Twitter (recently rebranded as ‘X’) to enter into discussions regarding the implementation of neighbouring rights for the press. These rights were established to enable news agencies and publishers to be remunerated by digital platforms which retain most of the monetary value generated by the distribution of news content,” the news agency wrote in a press release.

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“Today, AFP announces that it has taken legal action to obtain an urgent injunction before the Judicial Court of Paris. This move is aimed at compelling Twitter, in accordance with the law, to provide all the necessary elements required for assessing the remuneration owed to AFP under the neighbouring rights legislation.”

“As a leading advocate for the adoption of neighbouring rights for the press, AFP remains unwavering in its commitment to the cause, even four years after the law’s adoption,” AFP added. “The legal proceedings initiated against Twitter today are in line with this ongoing commitment. The Agency will continue to employ the appropriate legal means with each relevant platform to ensure the fair distribution of the value generated by the sharing of news content.”

The extension of copyright law to cover excerpts of news content being reshared on digital platforms was agreed by the European Union back in 2019 and transposed into French law in July of the same year. But apparently Musk never got the memo. (Tbf, he was probably a bit more focused on building electric cars, firing rockets into space, digging big holes in the ground and trolling people on Twitter back then… )

The extension to EU copyright law covers article extracts and all but the shortest snippets of news content which are shared on digital platforms. It isn’t limited to text either — also covering other content produced by news publishers, such as photographs, videos and infographics. News publishers’ content is covered for two years after its publication date.

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Writing on X in a response to news of AFP’s lawsuit Musk wrote: “This is bizarre. They want us to pay *them* for traffic to their site where they make advertising revenue and we don’t!?”

Search giant Google has previously fallen foul of France’s neighboring rights legislation — after the national antitrust authority got involved following complaints by a number of publishers (including AFP) that it was failing to fairly negotiate with news publishers about payments for reuse of their content.

That antitrust probe led on to the competition authority issuing Google with a fine of over half a billion dollars a little over two years ago. Google subsequently settled the dispute by offering a set of behavioral commitments over how it would negotiation with publishers. And went on to ink multi-year deals with AFP and other publishers to pay them for reuse of their content.

In X’s case a complaint it’s flouting the neighbouring rights law seems less likely to trigger an intervention from the competition authority given how — unlike Google — the Musk-owned social media platform does not hold a dominant position in general search services. (Or even, arguably, in social media, where a number of rival platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, have far more users.)

Google had also sought to directly circumvent the law’s requirement to negotiate licensing terms with publishers by announcing it would no longer display any of their news snippets across products such as Google Search and Google News unless they granted it free reuse of their content.

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That unilateral attempt to escape the law’s effect triggered a swift response from the competition authority for suspected abuse of a dominant position — including issuing Google with an interim order barring it from stopping displaying publishers’ news and mandating it enter into discussions about remuneration.

The EU is not the only region where digital platforms are legally required to enter talks with publishers to remunerate for news reuse. Australia passed a news bargaining code targeting Google and Facebook back in 2021. While Canada’s parliament recently passed the Online News Act, which also requires tech platforms negotiate with publishers in order to establish “fair revenue sharing” over their content.

However in the latter case Meta and Google continue to lobby against the measure and have suggested they will end news availability in Canada, rather than comply with the law. The pair also took similarly aggressive steps to lobby against the measure in Australia — and push for amendments — ahead of lawmakers confirming the country’s news bargaining code.

Google drops appeal against €500M antitrust news licensing fine

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​ Elon Musk-owned X, formerly Twitter, is facing legal action brought under copyright law in France. The Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency has announced it’s suing the social media platform over what it calls a “clear refusal” to enter into discussions with it about remuneration for the sharing of its news content on X. AFP said 

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Humans Need Not Apply: The AI Candidate Promising to Disrupt Democracy

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The rise of AI Steve, the artificial intelligence candidate running for a seat in the UK Parliament, has sparked a heated debate about the role of AI in governance and the potential disruption it could bring to traditional democratic processes.

Steven Endacott, the human force behind AI Steve, envisions his AI co-pilot as a conduit for direct democracy, enabling constituents to engage with the AI, share concerns, and shape its policy platform through a voting system of “validators.” Endacott has pledged to vote in Parliament according to the AI’s constituent-driven platform, even if it conflicts with his personal views.

Proponents argue that AI Steve can revolutionize politics by bringing more voices into the process and ensuring that policies truly reflect the will of the people. They claim that an AI candidate can engage in up to 10,000 conversations simultaneously, allowing for unprecedented levels of public participation and input.

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However, critics raise valid concerns about transparency, accountability, and the potential for AI systems to be manipulated or influenced by their creators, data limitations, or external actors. There are also questions about whether an AI can fully grasp the nuances and human elements involved in complex political issues.

Some argue that AI Steve is merely a clever marketing ploy to garner attention and votes, rather than a genuine effort to “humanize” politics. There are fears that the use of AI in elections could undermine faith in electoral outcomes and democratic processes if voters become aware of potential scams or manipulation.

 

Beyond the specific case of AI Steve, the rise of AI candidates and the increasing use of AI in political campaigns and elections raise broader questions about the integrity of democratic systems and the need for effective regulations and guidelines.

Anti-democratic actors and authoritarian regimes may seek to exploit AI technologies for censorship, surveillance, and suppressing dissent under the guise of enhancing governance. There are also concerns about the potential for an “AI arms race” between political parties to develop and deploy the most sophisticated AI technologies, further eroding public trust.

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As AI tools become more advanced and accessible, upholding electoral integrity will require proactive efforts to establish guardrails, transparency measures, and accountability frameworks around their use in politics. Policymakers, advocates, and citizens must work together to ensure that AI is leveraged as a force for a better and more inclusive democracy, rather than a tool for manipulation or consolidation of power.

The rise of AI candidates like AI Steve serves as a wake-up call for democratic societies to grapple with the implications of artificial intelligence in governance and to strike the right balance between harnessing its potential benefits and mitigating its risks to the democratic process.

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Saudi Arabia Says ‘Thank You, Next’ to the US Dollar

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Saudi Arabia is reportedly considering abandoning the US dollar for oil trade settlements, a move that could shake the foundations of the global financial system. For decades, the petrodollar system has propped up the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency, with Saudi Arabia insisting on dollar payments for its vast oil exports.

However, recent comments from Saudi officials hint at exploring alternatives to the dollar amid growing tensions with the US over various geopolitical issues and the rise of economic powerhouses like China.

Implications of a Petrodollar Shift

If Saudi Arabia abandons the petrodollar, the implications could be significant:

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1. Dollar Dominance Eroded: The dollar’s reserve currency status could weaken, potentially leading to a decline in its value.
2. Global Financial Instability: A sudden shift could trigger volatility in global markets as investors adjust portfolios.
3. Geopolitical Realignment: The move could signal Saudi alignment with China and challenge US economic hegemony.

Challenges and Uncertainties

While the prospect is significant, challenges remain:

1. Finding a suitable alternative currency with the dollar’s liquidity and stability.
2. Potential economic disruption for Saudi Arabia and trading partners.
3. Political backlash and strained relations with the US and allies.

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As the world watches, it remains uncertain whether Saudi Arabia’s comments signal a negotiating tactic or a profound shift in the global financial order.

 

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X Opens the Door to Adult Content With New Policy

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X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has made a significant policy shift by officially permitting adult content on its platform with some restrictions and guidelines.

In an update to its rules, X stated that users can now share “consensually produced and distributed adult nudity or sexual behavior” as long as it is properly labeled and not prominently displayed in areas like profile pictures or header images.

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“We recognize that many of our users are adults who want to freely express themselves by sharing legal adult content,” said an X spokesperson. “At the same time, we have a responsibility to protect minors and prevent exposure to explicit material without proper labeling.”

Under the new guidelines, users who “regularly post” adult content must adjust their settings to automatically mark images and videos as sensitive content, which blurs or hides the media by default. By default, users under 18 or who haven’t entered their birth date cannot view this sensitive adult content.

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The policy prohibits content “promoting exploitation, nonconsent, objectification, sexualization or harm to minors, and obscene behaviors.” It applies to all adult content, whether photographic, animated, or AI-generated.

X has stated that it will monitor user-generated content and adjust account settings for those who fail to properly mark pornographic posts. Similar rules and enforcement will apply to violent content as well.

The move aligns X with Apple’s app store guidelines, which allow apps with adult content as long as it is hidden by default and behind proper age gates and content warnings.

While adult content was already present on X, this policy update officially permits and regulates it, aiming to balance freedom of expression for consenting adults with protecting minors from exposure to explicit material.

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However, enforcing these rules consistently may prove challenging for X’s reduced content moderation teams following recent layoffs and cost-cutting measures.

The policy shift has drawn mixed reactions, with some praising X for embracing adult expression while others raise concerns about the potential for the platform to become inundated with pornographic content despite the restrictions.

As X navigates this new territory, the effectiveness of its labeling requirements, age verification measures, and content moderation efforts will be closely watched by users, regulators, and advocacy groups alike.

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