American studios against film
Eight film studios in Hollywood have instigated a lawsuit against
CleanFlicks and related
video and software companies. CleanFlicks places 'family-oriented'
film versions on the market, from which scenes containing sex, violence
or obscene language have been expurgated. According to a number
of directors, including Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese and Steven
Spielberg, censoring films is a form of copyright infringement.
They launched a test case several months ago, which is now being
supported by the Hollywood studios.
Unicef: children must learn to speak up
Millions of children do not believe that they can ever exert any
influence on the decisions made by their political leaders. They
think that voting is useless; no one will listen to them anyway.
This is one of the findings of the Unicef Annual Report: The State
of the World's Children 2003. The United Nations Children’s
Fund questioned 40,000 children from 72 countries about the democratic
process in their country.
The report argues for involving children more in the decisions that
affect their lives. Children must learn to think about such issues
and to speak up. These skills are not only needed if they are to
grow to become responsible adults, but also for the success of democracy
in their country. After all, one can hardly expect someone who grows
up feeling powerless to be socially and politically involved.
More information: The State
of the World's Children 2003
Argument about French Muslim supermarket
A big fuss has arisen in France over a neighbourhood supermarket
in a Parisian suburb that no longer sells wine and pork. The Islamic
owners believe that the store in a depressed area can only survive
if it carries a 'halal' (approved under Muslim law) product line.
The local mayor has threatened to use police intervention. He is
afraid that the diversity of the neighbourhood is being jeopardised.
According to Franprix, the chain of which this supermarket is a
part, the owners are obliged to carry the chain’s complete
World Wide Web sites can be sued in Australia
An Australian businessman can file a lawsuit against an American
publisher for defamation in an article on the Internet according
to a ruling by the Australian Supreme Court. The ruling can have
world-wide implications for publishing on the Internet. The lawsuit
against Dow Jones & Company was filed by Australian J. Gutnick.
He felt that he was aggrieved by an article about him that could
be read on the Internet in Australia. Dow Jones had placed the article
online in the United States and was thus of the opinion that any
lawsuits would have to be filed in the United States. Otherwise
every Internet publisher would have to consult the legislation for
all 190 countries that have defamation laws.
Museums refuse to return art treasures
Eighteen large international museums do not want to give antique
objects back to the countries from which they came. They state this
in a declaration drawn up by the American Metropolitan Museum of
Art. During the last several years various governments have demanded
that foreign museums return art works from antiquity that originally
came from their countries. For example, Greece is currently trying
to get the so-called Elgin Marbles back from the British Museum;
these statues from the Parthenon were taken to England in 1806 by
Englishman Lord Elgin. The art institutions, including the Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum, the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg,
say that it is unjust that they must give up items that they have
saved from oblivion. They also say that they are stewards of the
world’s heritage and that their collections are accessible
Film about CNN reporting in Iraq
The makers of the film Live from Baghdad, a film about
the CNN reporting during the Gulf
War in 1991, are being charged with war propaganda. The film suggests
that the Iraqi army killed hundreds of babies in 1990 in a hospital
in Kuwait. This rumour, which was circulated around the time the
Gulf War broke out, later turned out to be false. At the beginning
of December Live from Bagdad was broadcast by HBO,
the most popular cable TV network in the United States. The film
was released hurriedly with a view toward a possible new Gulf War.
In the meantime more than a hundred American film and television
stars have signed a manifest against a war with Iraq. The stars
have joined together in the organisation Artists United to Win Without
More information: Artists
United to Win Without War
Russian answer to Harry Potter
The Russian writer Dmitri Yemets has a published a children’s
book entitled Tanja Grotter and the magic double bass, which is
selling quite well. The characters, the plot and the book jacket
are so similar to the British Harry Potter series that author J.K.
Rowling and publisher Warner Bros have decided to bring a lawsuit
against Yemets for plagiarism. Yemets prefers to call the book a
Those familiar with Russia predict that Rowling will have little
success. Copyright laws are still in their infancy in Russia. Illegal
copies of western music and films are sold everywhere. National
‘versions’ of the Potter story have also appeared in
countries like China and White Russia, where copyright is regulated
about as poorly as in Russia.
A Dutch publisher wants to publish Tanja Grotter in the spring of
Vietnam stops TV broadcast of Apocalypse Now
The director of the TV broadcasting company Vietnam Cable Station
stopped the broadcast of the war film Apocalypse Now a half hour
into the broadcast. The American film from 1980 deals with the Vietnam
War, a theme that is sensitive in Hanoi for obvious reasons. On
closer inspection the director of the station came to the conclusion
that this film in which his countrymen are murdered on such a large
scale was not appropriate for broadcast.
China wants a new name for Mount Everest
The end of May 2003 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the expedition
that reached the top of the Mount Everest. Chinese media are using
the jubilee as an opportunity to try to restore the mountain back
to its original name. They are calling on the international community
to stop referring to the mountain by the ‘colonialist’
name Everest, but by its sacred Tibetan name ‘Qomolangma’.
This was the name by which the mountain was known before it was
named for the Englishman Everest, who placed it on the map. The
Chinese dispute this discovery; they claim that Asians reached the
summit in the 18th century and wrote about it.
Critics accuse the Chinese of the same arrogance of which the Chinese
accuse the British. There are many names for the summit. The Nepalese
call it Sagarmatha, the Tibetans themselves call it Chomolungma;
why then use the Chinese name? Moreover, many critics find it quite
extraordinary that of all nations China would be pleading for the
restoration of Tibetan cultural heritage.
Dagblad, NRC Handelsblad,
News, The New
York Times, the
Daily, China, CNN