Now playing: Watch this: 1:04 EU Parliament vote means your memes are safe… for now Share your voice First they came for the privacy violations, then they came for the memes. The European Union is trying to pass a hotly debated law on copyright. The European Copyright Directive has been years in the making, and on Tuesday, March 26, the European Parliament is due to vote on the final version of it.Companies including Google, along with free speech advocates and prominent figures within the EU, have opposed parts of the draft legislation. The contentious nature of the legislation saw it morph through multiple iterations before the different EU institutions agreed on a version after three days of talks in France.On June 20, 2018, the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee voted to approve the draft legislation, but then a couple of weeks later, on July 5, the Parliament as a whole rejected the measure. That was hardly the end of the matter, and the individual EU institutions followed up with their own input.Those votes happened just weeks after Europe’s last big piece of internet-related legislation — the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) — kicked in. 5 Tags Culture Internet Services Both the Copyright Directive and GDPR could dramatically affect and change things about the internet as we know it. But they also differ significantly, not just in scope, but also in how they’re viewed and received by the world beyond Brussels. GDPR has forced internet companies to scramble to fall in line with the new policy, but the privacy protections it promises internet users mean it’s generally thought of as a consumer-friendly effort. Some hail it as evidence that the EU is leading the way when it comes to regulating the internet. The pending Copyright Directive, however, is meeting with the opposite reaction. What is the European Copyright Directive and why are people against it? The EU Copyright Directive — or to give its full name, the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market — is Europe’s attempt to harmonize copyright laws across all member states. The last EU-wide copyright law was put in place in 2001, when the internet was a dramatically different place to how it is today. It’s designed to update the law and make it more relevant to the internet we know and love now, as well as to anticipate change down the line. The legislation, however, is vague — one of the criticisms of it — in terms of what actually needs to change and how it’ll be upheld. But there are two sections in particular that have drawn criticism for being overly harsh: Article 13, and to a lesser extent, Article 11. The impact, critics say, could mean a substantially more closed internet of the future. Who’s in favor of the directive? Alex Voss, rapporteur of the European Parliament for the copyright directive, for one. He suggested the law and believes its criticisms are highly exaggerated. Many members of the European Parliament also support the overhaul of EU copyright law. How many exactly will be determined when it’s put to a vote. Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda suggested alternatives to both Article 11 and Article 13, saying they would “fairly balance the interests of different groups without compromising on fundamental rights.” What’s Article 13? Article 13 is the part of the directive that dictates how copyrighted content — including TV shows, films, videos and pictures — is shared on the internet. It dictates that anyone sharing copyrighted content must get permission from rights owners, or at least have made the best possible effort to get permission, before doing so.It’d force all online platforms to police and prevent the uploading of copyrighted content, or make people seek the correct licenses to post that content. For the most part this would mean filters that check content as it’s uploaded would be mandatory for platforms including Facebook, Instagram, GitHub, Reddit and Tumblr, but also many much smaller platforms.YouTube already uses such a system — called Content ID — to protect copyright infringement, but the technology to do this is extremely expensive and has taken over 11 years to build and refine. Who has a problem with it and why? The concerns about Article 13 are wide-ranging, including unease about the cost of compliance for smaller companies, and out-and-out censorship of the internet. In a letter addressed to the president of the EP, Antonio Tajani, around 70 internet luminaries, including Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee, expressed their concern that the provision could cause “substantial harm” to the internet. “Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users,” they said. An organized campaign against Article 13 warns that it’d affect everything from memes to code, remixes to livestreaming. Almost 400,000 people have so far signed a Change.org petition against the provision. The Max Planck Institute, a nonprofit group, notes that Article 13 could threaten freedom of expression and information as enshrined in the European Charter of Human Rights. What’s Article 11? A second part of the draft legislation, Article 11, is also raising eyebrows. This section stipulates that companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft may have to pay publishers for showing snippets of news articles. Who has a problem with it and why? The objections to Article 11 are less vocal, but they’re out there nonetheless. It’s unclear what exactly would have to be licensed (snippets? headlines? links themselves?) so the jury is out on how much of an impact it might have. “Platforms unable or unwilling to pay licensing fees would need to shut down or disallow users from sharing links with snippets,” said Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda. There are fears it could outlaw news aggregators as we know them or even prevent any sites other than giants like Google, which could afford a license, from linking to articles at all. How will this affect Facebook and other social media companies? The law would force social media platforms to take more direct responsibility for policing uploaded content. Big tech companies will likely put their own, costly solutions in place for doing this. Smaller companies would likely use a more centralized platform. It’d also prevent social platforms from showing any kind of “snippet” of news stories, making it ultimately harder to share and link to content. How will this affect me, an EU resident? Everything you upload onto the internet will be checked for copyright beforehand, so this could mean no more making memes or edits for your favorite fan Tumblr, among many other things. It could also mean the end of some of your favorite news aggregation tools and apps. When you click on a link, you may have little clue ahead of time what lies beyond. These are just some of the possibilities, but because of how vague the law is, it’s hard to see how it might be upheld when the time comes. How will this affect me, a non-EU resident? Each territory is governed by its own copyright laws, so unless the directive causes the big internet companies to make some huge, fundamental changes, you might not be directly affected. The internet may not have as much content generated from within Europe, however, so if you’re a fan of British humor or Europe’s take on popular memes, your experience of being online may be the poorer for it. Will the directive definitely pass into law? It’s too early to say whether the Copyright Directive will pass. The July 5 vote by the EU Parliament was a narrow one: 318 against, 278 in favor, with 31 abstentions.Now that the EU has agreed on a final text for the directive, the European Parliament will vote on the legislation. If it passes, it’ll come into force in each EU country over the next two years.Originally published June 22, 2018.Update July 5, 2018: Added information about the vote in the European Parliament.Update Feb. 15, 2019: Added information about the upcoming vote in the European Parliament.Update March 25, 2019: Added further information about the upcoming vote. GDPR Legislation Privacy Facebook Comments
US President Donald Trump speaks about the Senate health care bill during a lunch with members of the US military in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Photo: AFPAn angry President Donald Trump railed Tuesday against dissenters in his party who dashed his months-long effort to dismantle his predecessor’s landmark health care law, as moderates balked at the latest Republican plan to scrap Obamacare.With several efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) now squashed, the Senate’s top Republican said he would forge ahead with what could be a last-gasp vote—on a new plan to kill off most of the 2010 reforms of Trump’s predecessor without a replacement at the ready.Four Republicans had lined up against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s earlier health overhaul, flatlining it in the chamber, where the party could afford only two defectors in order to get the measure passed.McConnell announced a fresh effort aimed at repealing Obamacare now and crafting a replacement later. But that too ran into opposition from at least three Republicans who refused to support repealing the law without a suitable fix at the ready.The Republican leader nonetheless prepared to force a vote to see where his members stood on the repeal-only measure.“That’s a vote I think we’re very likely to have in the very near future,” McConnell told reporters.No date was given, but number two Republican John Cornyn said he expected it this week.The dramatic implosion effectively means that Trump, who marks his first half-year in office Thursday, has no major legislative victory in hand, squandering months of political capital.Trump fired off a morning tweet storm complaining about how he was “let down” by Democrats “and a few Republicans” opposed to the repeal.He had campaigned relentlessly on a pledge to abolish most of the ACA, proclaiming at an October campaign rally that it would be “so easy” to immediately repeal and replace the law.But he has run into the uncompromising reality of American politics: even with a president’s party enjoying a majority in both chambers, crafting and passing landmark legislation can be perilous in the US Congress.The White House insisted that success remained within reach, with deputy spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying “we are not done with the health care battle.”But Trump said he was “disappointed,” and repeatedly offered that now it would be easier to just “let Obamacare fail.”He also stressed he wanted nothing to do with the blame for the collapse.“We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it,” he said.“We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us” looking to work on a solution.‘Time to start over’McConnell’s new bid would repeal much of Obamacare outright, but with a two-year delay of implementation, in order to allow Congress time to craft a replacement.A straight repeal bill passed Congress in 2015. That was during Obama’s presidency, and Republicans knew they would pay no political price for their votes, as Obama vetoed the measure.It is no longer a dress rehearsal, and some Republicans are clearly concerned they would be on the hook for any ensuing disruption to the health care system.Two years ago, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office warned that simply repealing Obamacare would essentially kick 18 million people off health care in the first year compared to current law, a figure that would balloon to 32 million by 2026.That is far worse than the 22 million that the CBO forecast would lose coverage under the latest repeal-and-replace legislation.With a number of Senate Republican moderates voicing concern about how the latest bill could adversely impact millions of people insured through Medicaid, the health coverage program for the poor and the disabled, McConnell’s bid floundered.“I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito said in a statement.Her state has significant numbers of residents on Medicaid.Another Republican opposed to the new plan, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, acknowledged that McConnell had the nearly impossible task of coralling enough votes from his caucus’s rival conservative and moderate factions.“The majority leader is trying to keep all the frogs in the wheelbarrow, and it’s a tough job,” Murkowski said.While Democrats celebrated, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer extended an olive branch to his Republican rivals and encouraged them to work with Democrats to improve Obamacare.“It’s time to move on. It’s time to start over” on health care, he said.Meanwhile a bipartisan group of 11 governors urged the Senate to “immediately reject” the repeal-only effort and work with state executives on bettering the current system.“The best next step is for both parties to come together and do what we can all agree on: fix our unstable insurance markets,” said the governors, who included Ohio’s John Kasich, a 2016 Republican presidential hopeful, and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia.
By AFRO StaffDelta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporate. (Courtesy Image/Logo)Every year during the Maryland Legislative Session, members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated gather in Annapolis to meet state legislators to discuss advocacy and policy. The theme for the event, Delta Day in Annapolis, is “Sounding the Alarm in Annapolis: Impacting Legislation in Maryland.” The day-long event scheduled for March 6 will be held at the Lowes House Office Building. Attendees can expect to hear from an array of panelists and engage in workshops focused of social change and policy reform.Among workshops offerings are:-The effects of Criminal Justice Reform and Gun Control;-Ensuring Your Voting Right and Gerrymandering;-Moving Towards a More Equitable and Inclusive Educational System;-2020 Census and the Affordable Health Care Act.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. 4 min read Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Jennifer MolineYou may think that the days leading up to April 15, 2009, will be a scramble of locating receipts and cursing yourself for not keeping better records, but there is also the likelihood you will kick yourself for not doing more in 2008 to lower your tax bill. Fear not, because there are ways — some quite simple — to maximize the few days left of this year in order to minimize what you will owe 3-1/2 months from now.The No. 1 recommendations made by many tax experts is to make capital investments now rather than put them off. A change to the 2008 Federal Tax Code has resulted in a historically high write-off maximum of $250,000 for tangible property. So now could be the time to do that much-needed upgrade of your equipment, such as computers, telephone systems, even furniture. All of your business-related gear is deductible, there are tons of sales going on, and if you charge the purchases to a credit card, you can claim the deductible for this year yet not have to pay off the charge until next year — and, as tax attorney Roni Deutch points out, you might even qualify for credit card rewards.Also, go green where you can, since tax credits are available for certain energy-saving purchases — from installing solar panels and solar hot-water heaters to purchasing alternative-fuel vehicles. Check out the IRS’s Web site for a list of the credits available for different electric and hybrid car models.There is a caveat to the recommendation of making business purchases this year, however. Barbara Weltman, a tax expert for small businesses, says that because of the recession, we’re in a unique situation: “Many businesses weren’t profitable. So the conventional approach — buying up supplies by the end of the year — would not apply this year.” Weltman suggests waiting until next year to make large purchases if you think your business is going to make more money then.The flip side to that, Weltman says, is do your best to send out invoices in the remaining days of December because maybe — maybe — you’ll get paid this year. “Get the money when you can, since you don’t know when people will be able to pay you,” she says.Expenses To Make Now That Could Result In Deductions On April 15Here are some other expenses tax experts recommend you consider making by Dec. 31 that could add up to more deductions next year:Donate to charities. For a hefty donation, consider charging it to a credit card and paying it off in 2009. Otherwise, making a tangible donation can also declutter your office. “In this environment, people should think about cleaning out their closets and giving away clothing and furniture to charity,” says John Hewitt, CEO of Liberty Tax Service. Donating a working computer is eco-friendly and will earn you a deduction. Another charitable recommendation from Weltman is to create a leave-based donation program for your staff — they forgo personal time off, and you donate those funds to relief efforts for a charitable contribution deduction. Weltman points out that because the money isn’t taxed as compensation to employees, your business avoids payroll taxes you’d otherwise owe.Pay off accounts receivable. If you are on the cash method of accounting, Weltman says, settle up outstanding receivables by Dec. 31 so you can deduct the payments next year. The bonus is you’ll preserve your good credit record.Make your next mortgage payment now so that you can take a higher interest deduction. But, warns Deutch, remember that that would be one less mortgage payment to claim next year.Distribute profits. If you’re one of the few businesses that did well this year, Weltman recommends paying out earnings — and taking a deduction — through bonuses to your staff. And corporations should consider distributing profits as dividends to owners.Prepay state and city taxes, since they’re deductible for this year.Consider maximizing 401(k) contributions before year’s end. The deductible amount for a contribution to a traditional IRA is up to $5,000 per person and up to $6,000 per person age 50 or older.Make health savings account (HSA) contributions this month in order to make a year’s worth of deductible HSA contributions for 2008.And if it’s too late for your business to salvage 2008, Weltman’s No. 1 piece of advice for smaller companies to practice throughout the year is to keep good books and records. The better record-keeping, she says, the easier it is to find items to write off. “If you don’t keep records,” she warns, “you won’t be able to name write-offs, even if they’re perfectly legitimate.”Also, don’t forget that the incoming Obama administration could also have tax implications next year.Search for other tax stories.Jennifer Moline is associate editor of bMighty.com. Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. December 29, 2008 Register Now »