NEWS

The EU Approves Sweeping Draft Regulations On Social Media Giants

"The European Union took a significant step Thursday toward passing legislation that could transform the way major technology companies operate," reports the Washington Post, "requiring them to police content on their platforms more aggressively and introducing new restrictions on advertising, among other provisions...." "The legislation is the most aggressive attempt yet to regulate big tech companies as the industry comes under greater international scrutiny." The version approved Thursday would force companies to remove content that is considered illegal in the country where it is viewed, which could be Holocaust denials in Germany or racist postings in France. And it would significantly shape how companies interact with users, allowing Europeans to opt out of targeted advertising more easily and prohibiting companies from targeting advertisements at children.... The legislation would also ban companies from employing deceptive tactics known as dark patterns to lure users to sign up or pay for services and products. And it would allow users to ask companies which personal characteristics, such as age or other demographic information, led them to be targeted with certain advertisements. The two legislation bodies of the 27-nation bloc "are expected to debate the contents of the legislation for months before voting on a final version," the Post adds. But they add this a vote on "initial approval" of the legislation passed "overwhelmingly". "With the [Digital Services Act] we are going to take a stand against the Wild West the digital world has turned into, set the rules in the interests of consumers and users, not just of Big Tech companies and finally make the things that are illegal offline illegal online too," said Christel Schaldemose, the center-left lawmaker from Denmark who has led negotiations on the bill. The Post adds this quote from Gianclaudio Malgieri, an associate professor of technology and law at the EDHEC Business School in France. "For the first time, it will not be based on what Big Tech decides to do," he said. "It will be on paper." In fact, the site Open Access Government reports there were 530 votes for the legislation, and just 78 against (with 80 abstentions). "The Digital Services Act could now become the new gold standard for digital regulation, not just in Europe but around the world," they quote Schaldemose as saying, also offering more details on the rest of the bill: Algorithm use should be more transparent, and researchers should also be given access to raw data to understand how online harms evolve. There is also a clause for an oversight structure, which would allow EU countries to essentially regulate regulation. Violations could in future be punished with fines of up to 6% of a company's annual revenue.... The draft Bill is one half of a dual-digital regulation package. The other policy is the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which would largely look at tackling online monopolies. Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader UpnAtom for sharing the story.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Late Saturday Night Open Thread: Kink-Shaming the Professional Death Cultists

Swear to Murphy the Trickster God, if I didn’t know he was a paid chaos agent (for Murdoch, the GOP, Putin — are those still separate entities?), I’d think that Tucker Carlson was sliding into my personal ‘Don’t post about genuinely crazy people’ zone. But he’s clearly tapped a rich vein of GOP self-parody!


Rule 34: If it exists, there is porn of it. (Google at your own risk!)

The post Late Saturday Night Open Thread: Kink-Shaming the Professional Death Cultists appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Open Thread

Open Thread 29

I have no idea why he is in this position.

Got my covid test today, and I will know the results in 2-5 days. I don’t think I have it, but I am just exhausted and coughing up shit and feel crappy. And if I did have it, there’s not much I would do different since my oxygen levels are at like 98% and I never go anywhere anyway.

It just sucks that I started to feel like shit on Wednesday, the DAY after I went to Kroger, so now I have to worry I caught it. Ehh, whatever.

In other news, as I was getting ready to shower, I slipped on a pee pad (Lily has been having accidents- it’s hard for her to go up and down the stairs as easily) and she uses the pee pads, so it’s not like it is an issue. Fortunately it was a clean pee pad, but in order to not fall down the stairs or fall in such a way that I would injure my shoulder, I landed SQUARE on my left knee with all my weight. I just crumpled and sat there for a couple minutes and though about life choices and evaluated whether or not I had broken anything or if moving would make it worse, decided I was ok, and got up and showered and iced it before heading out for my test.

It’s swollen a bit and tender, but I can still hobble around and nothing is broken, and honestly it’s probably safer this way because I have to pay attention to what the fuck I am doing when I walk. Thinking positively, I dodged a bullet and will not have “Slipped on a pee pad” as the cause of death in my autopsy.

So there’s that.

The post Open Thread appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Analysts Weigh In: Will We Ever See the Year of the Linux Desktop?

How popular is Linux? The Windows Central site admits Linux is starting to tempt them. "It made such an imprint on Windows Central that not all of us even bother much with Windows anymore." "Heck, Germany (part of it, to be specific) is taking another stab at ditching Windows for Linux..." But what are the odds really that Linux overtakes Windows' market share? "That is the tantalizing question at the kernelled core of the great Linux debate, and it's the one we reached out to analysts to hear their thoughts on...." Every year is a special year for Linux in some way, shape, or form, but in terms of eating Windows' lunch, that's probably not in the cards for a long time, if ever. Forrester Senior Analyst Andrew Hewitt gave figures to further bolster the argument that Linux is a long ways off from toppling Windows. "Overall, just 1% of employees report usage of Linux on their primary laptop used for work," he said. "That's compared to 60% that still use Windows, and small numbers that use Chrome OS and macOS on a global basis. It is very unlikely that Linux will overtake Windows as the main operating system." With that said, Hewitt did foresee diversification and growth when it came to Linux, Chrome OS, and macOS, but nothing to a degree that would signal Windows is at risk of losing its dominant market share. "We commonly see Linux used in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) deployments," he stated, mentioning that he'd expect growth there since "VDI has grown 2% year over year according to our 'State Of VDI, 2021' report." Gartner VP Analyst Steve Kleynhans also tells the site that the biggest challenge to Windows "on anything that looks like a PC is probably Chrome OS... Could Linux continue to grow? Yes. But it's not likely to grow as a direct competitor replacing Windows."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: Do We Need Better Computer Programming Courses For Visual Learners?

Two-thirds of technology firms are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, reports the BBC (citing a recent report from recruitment firm Harvey Nash). But what's the solution? In an article shared by Chrisq, the BBC's business technology reporter field-tested some computer programming training: I attended Teach the Nation to Code, a free one-day Python coding workshop run by UK training firm, QA... But when it works, there's not much pay-off — just some lines on a screen. I also took classes with Cypher Coders and Creator Academy to teach me Scratch — a coding language for children with a simple visual interface... [I] found the step change from learning Scratch to Python similarly jarring in the children's toys — you suddenly go from colourful blocks to an empty screen with no handholding. What could help bridge this gap from fun games for kids, to more professional level complex coding? Garry Law, founder of Australian coding training firm, Creator Academy, says IT education needs to be better. "We need to teach kids coding with visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles, and we need to adapt this learning method for adults, to attract more people to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)," he says.... Cost is also a big problem. According to Anna Brailsford, chief executive of social enterprise Code First: Girls, it typically costs £10,000 to learn coding and often there isn't a clear link between what is taught and the jobs available. Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo remembers that "the way I got started was by borrowing books from the library that contained example programs." Back then there were loads of books that were nothing but little BASIC apps for various machines. That got me started with a program that worked and often did something quite interesting or useful, like a graphical effect. Then I could tinker with it and learn that way. But is that enough of a reward to attract new programmers — or should beginning courses target more learning styles? Share your own thoughts and experiences in the comments. Do we need better computer programming courses for visual learners?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Saturday Night Open Thread: Another Excellent Relocation

The usual suspects, of course, are outraged. Especially the ones who only knew about the American Museum of Natural History — and, possibly, Teddy Roosevelt — because of those terrible ‘Night at the Museum’ movies. But the AMNH was one of the lodestones of my childhood, and I can assure you: That statue was considered an embarrassment even fifty years ago. It will *not* be missed in NYC. And it’s found a much more culturally appropriate home elsewhere:

The towering bronze statue depicts Roosevelt riding a horse, as two nameless African and Native American men flank him on foot.

It has provoked strong debate in the city, as many criticized the apparent subservience of the pair to the White man in the center — calling the scene a symbol of racism and colonialism.

“The statue was meant to celebrate Theodore Roosevelt … as a devoted naturalist and author of works on natural history,” the museum website has said about the removal. “At the same time, the statue itself communicates a racial hierarchy that the Museum and members of the public have long found disturbing.”…

The Roosevelt statue will be on long-term loan to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library due to open in 2026, in North Dakota, where Roosevelt spent time in the Badlands. The presidential library was termed “a fitting new home” by New York City officials when the decision was made last year, noting it could be “appropriately contextualized” there.

Library trustees agreed the statue was “problematic in its composition” and said in a statement they would be establishing an advisory council comprising representatives from Indigenous and Black communities, historians, scholars, and artists to determine next steps…

For the moment, white supremacist ‘history enthusiasts’ can combine a trip to check up on ol’ Teedy with their pilgrimage to Kristi Noem’s Mount Rushmore. And once the country has recovered from the current political extinction burst, the TR Library can quietly relocate the statue, possibly as a marker to the restrooms.

The post Saturday Night Open Thread: Another Excellent Relocation appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Please rewind: 80s Sleepers

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I thought I might dust off my VHS collection (yes, I’ve hung on to a few), put on a skinny tie and curate an 80s sleeper festival for you this evening. Several of my selections remain criminally unavailable on DVD or Blu-ray (are you listening, boutique reissue studios?). Anyway, here are 10 gems from that decade that I think deserve a little more love…

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Dreamchild – This unique 1985 film from director Gavin Millar blends speculative biography with fantasy to delve into the psychology behind writer Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s book Alice in Wonderland. Scripted by Dennis Potter, the story is set in 1932 New York City.

Carroll’s muse, the now 80-year-old Alice Liddell Hargreaves (Coral Brown) has traveled from her native England with her young assistant (Nicola Cowper) to participate in a celebration of Reverend Charles L. Dodgson’s (aka Lewis Carroll’s) centenary. Prim and proper Mrs. Hargreaves is perplexed by the fuss the Americans are making over her visit. As she gathers her thoughts for a speech she is to give in Dodgson’s honor, she takes stock of her childhood association with the Reverend (Ian Holm), which leads to a bittersweet epiphany.

Anyone familiar with Dennis Potter’s work will not be surprised to learn that there are some dark subtexts; yet there is also sweetness and poignancy. Amelia Shankley gives a nuanced performance that belies her age as young Alice, and the late Jim Henson works his magic with the creature creations for the fantasy sequences.

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Heartbreakers (VHS only)– In this 1984 drama, writer-director Bobby Roth delivers an absorbing character study about a pair of 30-something pals going through transitions in their personal and professional lives. Peter Coyote is excellent as petulant man-child Blue, a starving artist who specializes in fetishistic female portraiture (his character is based in part on artist Robert Blue).

Blue is nurturing a broken heart; his long-time girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold), tired of waiting for him to grow up, has dumped him. Blue’s friend Eli (Nick Mancuso) is a quintessential Yuppie who lives in a dream bachelor pad boasting a lofty view of the L.A. Basin. Despite being financially secure, Eli is also emotionally unfulfilled. With his male model looks and shiny toys, he has no problem with hookups; he just can’t find The One (yes, I know…how many nights of empty sex with an endless parade of beautiful women can one guy stand?).

Just when the commiserating duo’s love lives are looking hopeless, they both meet The One. Unfortunately, she is the same One (Carole Laure). The plot thickens, and the friendship is about to be tested. Formulaic as it sounds, Roth’s film is a keenly observed look at modern love (and sex) in the Big City. Max Gail (best known for his role on the sitcom Barney Miller) is great here, as is Carol Wayne (sadly, this is her last film).

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Light of Day (VHS only)– From off the streets of Cleveland comes…that rare Paul Schrader film that doesn’t culminate in a blood-spattered catharsis. Rather, this 1987-character study (scripted by the director) concerns a pair of blue-collar siblings (Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett) struggling to make a name for themselves in the music biz.

Jett, naturally, does her own singing and playing; but Fox and the other actors portraying “The Barbusters” do so as well. That fact, coupled with the no-nonsense performances, adds up to one of the most realistic narrative films I’ve seen about what it’s really like to eke out a living in the rock ’n’ roll trenches; i.e., these guys actually look and sound like a bar band. Gena Rowlands is a standout as Jett and Fox’s mother (she is the most “Schrader-esque” character). Bruce Springsteen penned the title song (“Born in the USA” was originally slated, but nixed).

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Liquid Sky Downtown 81 meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers in this deeply weird 1982 art-house sci-fi film. A diminutive, parasitic alien with a particular delectation for NYC club kids, models and performance artists lands on an East Village rooftop and starts mainlining off the limbic systems of junkies and sex addicts…right at the moment that they, you know…reach the maximum peak of pleasure center stimulation (the alien is a dopamine junkie?). Just don’t think about the science too hard.

The main attraction here is the inventive photography and the fascinatingly bizarre performance (or non-performance) by (co-screen writer) Anne Carlisle, who tackles two roles-a female fashion model who becomes the alien’s primary host, and a male model. Writer-director Slava Zsukerman also co-wrote the electronic music score.

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One Night Stand (VHS only) – An early effort from filmmaker John Duigan (Winter of Our Dreams, The Year My Voice Broke, Flirting, Sirens), this 1984 sleeper got lost in the flurry of nuclear paranoia movies that proliferated during the Reagan era.

Four young people (three Australians and an American sailor who has jumped ship) get holed up in an empty Sydney Opera House on the eve of escalating nuclear tension between the superpowers in Eastern Europe. In an effort to quell their anxiety over increasingly ominous news bulletins droning from a portable radio, the quartet find creative ways to keep up their spirits.

Uneven, but for the most part Duigan (who scripted) deftly juggles romantic comedy, apocalyptic thriller and anti-war statement. There are several striking set pieces; particularly an affecting scene where the group watches Fritz Langs’s Metropolis as the Easybeats “Friday on My Mind” is juxtaposed over its orchestral score. Midnight Oil performs in a scene where the two young women attend a concert. The bittersweet denouement (in an underground tube station) is quite powerful.

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Sammie and Rosie Get Laid (VHS only)– What I adore most about this 1987 dramedy from director Stephen Frears (My Beautiful Launderette, Prick up Your Ears, Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters, High Fidelity) is that it is everything wingnuts dread: Pro-feminist, gay-positive, anti-fascist, pro-multiculturalism, anti-colonialist and Marxist-friendly (they don’t make ‘em like this anymore).

At first glance, Sammy (Ayub Khan-Din) and Rosie (Frances Barber) are just your average middle-class London couple. However, their lifestyle is unconventional. They have taken a libertine approach to their marriage; giving each other an unlimited pass to take lovers on the side (the in-joke here is that Sammy and Rosie seemingly “get laid” with everyone but each other).

In the meantime, the couple’s neighborhood is turning into a war zone; ethnic and political unrest has led to nightly riots (this is unmistakably Thatcher’s England; Frears bookends his film with ironic excerpts from her speeches). When Sammy’s estranged father (Shashi Kapoor), a former Indian government official haunted by ghosts from his political past, returns to London after a long absence, everything goes topsy-turvy for the couple.

Fine performances abound in a cast that includes Claire Bloom and Fine Young Cannibals lead singer Roland Gift, buoyed by Frears’ direction and Hanif Kureishi’s literate script.

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Stormy Monday – Sean Bean stars as a restless young drifter who blows into Newcastle and falls in with a local jazz club owner (Sting). About the same time, a shady American businessman with mob ties (Tommy Lee Jones) arrives to muscle in on a land development deal, accompanied by his ex-mistress/current P.A. (Melanie Griffith). As romantic sparks fly between Bean and Griffith, the mobster puts the thumbscrews to the club owner, who stands in the way of the development scheme by refusing to sell. Things get complicated. Writer-director Mike Figgis’ tightly scripted 1988 neo-noir (his feature debut) delivers the goods on every front. Gorgeously photographed by Roger Deakins.

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Tokyo Pop (VHS only)– This 1988 film is a likable entry in the vein of other 80s films like Starstruck, Breaking Glass, Desperately Seeking Susan, Smithereens and The Fabulous Stains. The fluffy premise is buoyed by star Carrie Hamilton’s winning screen presence.

Hamilton (who does her own singing) plays a struggling wannabe rock star who buys a one-way ticket to Tokyo at the invitation of a girlfriend. Unfortunately, her flaky friend has flown the coop, and our heroine is stranded in a strange land. “Fish out of water” misadventures ensue, including cross-cultural romance with all the usual complications.

For music fans, it’s a fun time capsule of the late 80s Japanese music scene, and the colorful cinematography nicely captures the neon-lit energy of Tokyo nightlife. Director Fran Rubel Kuzui (who co-wrote the screenplay with Lynn Grossman) later directed the 1992 feature film Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and went on to serve as executive producer for the eponymous TV series. Sadly, Hamilton (Carol Burnett’s daughter) died of cancer at age 38 in 2002.

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Wish You Were Here – David Leland’s 1987 comedy-drama centers on a headstrong 16-year-old girl coming of age in post WW 2 England. The story is loosely based on the real-life exploits of British madam Cynthia Payne (Leland also collaborated as screenwriter with director Terry Jones on the film Personal Services, which starred Julie Walters and was based on Payne’s later exploits).

Vivacious teenager Emily Lloyd makes an astounding debut as pretty, potty-mouthed “Linda”, whose exhibitionist tendencies and sexual antics cause her reserved widower father and younger sister to walk around in a perpetual state of public embarrassment.

Bolstered by a taut script and precise performances, the film breezes along on a deft blend of belly-laugh hilarity and bittersweet emotion. Excellent supporting cast, especially Thom Bell, who injects humanity into an otherwise vile character. Sadly, the talented Lloyd never broke big; she went on to do a few relatively unremarkable projects, and then dropped off the radar.

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Word, Sound, and Power – This 1980 documentary by Jeremiah Stein clocks in at just over an hour but is the best film I’ve seen about roots reggae music and Rastafarian culture. Barely screened upon its original theatrical run and long coveted by music geeks as a Holy Grail until its belated DVD release in 2008 (when I was finally able to loosen my death grip on the sacred, fuzzy VHS copy that I had taped off of USA’s Night Flight back in the early 80s), it’s a wonderful time capsule of a particularly fertile period for the Kingston music scene.

Stein interviews key members of The Soul Syndicate Band, a group of studio players who were the Jamaican version of The Wrecking Crew; they backed reggae superstars like Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, and Toots Hibbert (to name but a few). Beautifully photographed and edited, with outstanding live performances by the Syndicate. Musical highlights include “Mariwana”, “None Shall Escape the Judgment”, and a spirited acoustic version of “Harvest Uptown”.

Previous posts with related themes:

Top 15 Anti-nuke Films

Top 5 Rasta Movies

No Future: Top 5 Thatcher Era Films

Top 15 Rock Musicals

Fright Night at the Art House: A top 10 list

More reviews at Den of Cinema

Dennis Hartley

In High-Tech San Francisco, a Pilot Program Tries Guaranteed Incomes for Artists

In 2015 the San Francisco Arts Commission surveyed nearly 600 local artists. "More than 70% of them had either already left San Francisco or were about to be displaced from their work, home or both," reports SFGate.com, adding "The pandemic has only intensified these problems. A report by Americans for the Arts found that 53% of artists have no savings whatsoever as a result of the pandemic." Would it help to give over 100 artists their own Universal Basic Income? In an effort to mitigate what appears to be an existential threat to the arts, in March 2021, the city of San Francisco partnered with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [YBCA] to launch a guaranteed income pilot, called the SF Guaranteed Income Pilot for Artists, or SF-GIPA, that gives 130 local low-income artists who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic $1,000 a month, no strings attached, for 18 months.... At the time, YBCA was planning to launch its own guaranteed income project for artists, and this allowed it to combine forces and take both projects further. The first six months of funding for the SF-GIPA project came from the Arts Impact Endowment, which is funded by San Francisco's hotel tax and designated for underserved communities. YBCA extended the project by an additional 12 months with private funding from the Start Small Foundation, a philanthropic initiative by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.... Though the additional income from SF-GIPA is a welcome relief, as the project moves past its halfway point, the question remains: Will 18 months be enough time to truly make a difference in these artists' lives? YBCA is currently scrambling to find a way to continue supporting guaranteed income recipients after the project's scheduled end in October 2023.... "It's just so sad; people come to San Francisco because of the art and culture, but the art and culture makers can't afford to live here," says Stephanie Imah, who is leading YBCA's pilot. "This is very much a rental problem. It's really hard for artists living in San Francisco unless they work in tech. It's clear we need long-term solutions." For YBCA, that means advocating for big policy changes down the line. "Our eyes are on the federal government," YBCA CEO Deborah Cullinan explains in an interview with Berkeley's Aurora Theatre. "We'd like to see guaranteed income programs across the country for all people." For now, the organization is focused on collecting "university standard research" in order to make an irrefutable case for universal basic income as a viable long-term solution to poverty.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Trump TV Nets Dumped

It’s not because of their ideology it’s because there are only so many Trump loving nutballs to go around and they are all watching Fox. How do these wingnuts like capitalism now?

Before One America News Network host Dan Ball finished an interview with guest Jim Jordan this past week, he asked the Ohio Republican congressman for a favor.

“Please put some pressure on AT&T and DirecTV for us,” said Ball, whose nightly program “Real America” airs nightly on the right-wing cable channel. “OAN would love to continue broadcasting on that platform and we know for a fact it is all political behind the scenes on why they’re doing that to us.”

Earlier in the week, Ball solicited viewers to send him “dirt” on William Kannard, chairman of of the board for DirecTV parent AT&T, including any evidence of marital infidelity. OAN’s 80-year-old founder, tech entrepreneur Robert Herring, also went on camera to plea with viewers to ask other cable and satellite providers in their areas to add the channel to their lineups.

The desperate calls for help — which would be considered unseemly on a traditional cable news outlet — follow DirecTV’s Jan. 15 announcement that it will drop the San Diego-based OAN from its service in April. DirecTV, which AT&T spun off last summer, accounts for nearly half of the 35 million homes that can receive OAN on cable or satellite TV. The channel is not broadly distributed enough to be measured by Nielsen.

The loss of DirecTV will deprive the channel of its major source of revenue and cast doubt on the future of the operation, where President Biden’s administration is called a “regime” and concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic are described as hysteria. OAN correspondents have promoted efforts to audit the vote counts in the 2020 election.

OAN is not be the only conservative outlet losing distribution. Newsmax, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based channel that is the TV home of former President Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, was dropped from four cable systems in January after it failed to reach new carriage agreements with those companies.

The two channels gained notoriety in recent years by seeking out conservative viewers who believe right-leaning Fox News, the dominant ratings leader in cable news, did not show enough unwavering fealty to Trump. Both believe it’s now open season on conservative outlets.

“We count 11 liberal news and information channels in a typical cable package, with Fox News Channel and Newsmax as the only alternatives,” Newsmax Chief Executive Chris Ruddy said in a statement to The Times. “All Americans are harmed when any voice, liberal or conservative, is closed down. We believe that society as a whole benefits from more discussion and political views being represented, not less.”[…]

OAN, Newsmax and Fox News, are all being sued for defamation by voting technology companies Smartmatic and Dominion. Both firms allege their reputations were damaged by false statements presented by anchors and guests who echoed Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was rigged against him.

The lawsuits could create significant liabilities and a heap of bad publicity for the networks, complicating their relationship with distributors. The networks have said they were within their 1st Amendment rights to report on election fraud allegations made by well-known public figures, including Trump his advisors and members of Congress. (Fox News has a motion to dismiss the Smartmatic suit.)

The pay TV providers who dropped OAN and Newsmax make the case that it’s not politics that drove their decisions, but the upended economics of their business.

Cable and satellite companies are coping with subscriber loss as the emergence of streaming services, such as Netflix, disrupts TV habits. The number of pay TV homes declined by nearly 9% through the first nine months of 2021, according to research firm MoffettNathanson. DirecTV has seen significant subscriber losses as well.

The cost of a cable package is a major factor in the consumers’ decision to cut the cord, which means service providers are under pressure not to raise rates. Cable bills creep up when the cost to carry programming is passed along to consumers.

DirecTV did not comment on OAN beyond its initial statement saying the decision to drop it came “after a routine internal review.” The company’s chief executive Bill Morrow did offer an explanation in a memo to employees obtained by The Times.

Morrow said carriage decisions on channels are based on “industry trends such as secular decline, programming price increases, competitive offerings with lower price points, our competitors’ offers, and consumers’ desire to have more narrow bundles.”

Breezeline, the Quincy, Mass.-based cable company formerly known as Atlantic Broadband, took a similar stance in its comment on its decision to part with Newsmax.

“While we worked in good faith to negotiate a fair agreement, Newsmax insisted on terms and conditions that we could not accept,” said Andrew Walton, a spokesperson for Breezeline. “The decision was not related in any way to the content on the network.”

Hey, if you can’t deliver an audience …

Streaming TV Shows on Twitch Attracts DMCAs and the TV Industry’s Eye of Sauron

The Washington Post reports that three of the world's most prominent live-streaming stars "received notifications of copyright infringement after broadcasting TV shows to their millions-strong fanbases on Twitch." "The days that followed produced copious amounts of Twitch's most common byproduct, online drama, but also focused attention on the murky and legally complicated question of what constitutes fair use of copyright materials such as TV shows and movies...." In 2007 Viacom sued YouTube for copyright infringement. Though the court ultimately ruled in favor of YouTube, the suit paved the way for the "Content ID" system, which automatically identifies copyright content and aggressively polices the platform. While software that can scan Twitch already exists, Twitch has yet to create its own automated system, and it does not appear to be in the process of doing so, according to industry figures with knowledge of Twitch's operations who weren't authorized to speak publicly. Such an outcome becomes more likely, however, if advertisers start withdrawing from the platform for fear of being associated with risky content, something that's already beginning to happen on Twitch according to Devin Nash, chief marketing officer of content creator-focused talent agency Novo... The "react content" trend often hinges on broadcasting copyright material, like popular movies or TV shows, a practice which skirts the outer edges of platform rules. Earlier this month, Viacom and the History Channel/A&E (which is owned by Hearst and Disney) issued copyright claims — also known as Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests — to specific streamers.... The DMCA-centric discourse left streamers and viewers on Twitch with ample drama but no clear answer as to whether one of the platform's go-to trends merely faces a few bumps in the road or an asteroid-sized extinction event. "Nothing could happen, or everything could happen," Cassell added. "And it rests on the decisions of a handful of media rights holders...." Some streamers, such as Piker and Felix "xQc" Lengyel, both of whom started reacting to clips from sites like YouTube long before the current react meta began, argue reaction content should be permitted since Twitch is essentially built on copyright infringement. Streaming a video game is technically a DMCA-able offense. The video game industry, however, has decided to allow the practice because the free publicity and resulting sales tend to outweigh any potential downsides. But television is a different beast, with its economics rooted in broadcast rights rather than individual unit sales.... This awkward and unceasing dance around the topic has been fueled in part by the fact that Twitch is incentivized to maintain its ignorance of copyright infractions taking place on their platform.... But the silence has added stress to streamers whose livelihoods could be impacted by decisions around the current DMCA practices.... The Post also spoke to game/esports/entertainment lawyer David Philip Graham, who believes copyright law itself is due for an overhaul. "Much of our current copyright regime isn't really about authors' rights or promoting the progress of science and useful arts, but about big businesses looking for easier routes to profitability," Graham said. He proposes shortening copyright term lengths — and also expanding permissions for derivative works.

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