Stark Raving Contrast

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Consider for example the difference between their opening video and ours. Theirs focuses on the contribution Britain makes to the EU budget but fails to reference the benefits our membership brings [...]. It’s fundamentally dishonest. [...] Our opening video, by contrast, features a range of people speaking from experience about the benefits of being in Europe. It’s entirely the positive case for staying in.

Extremely Minty

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One of the opening quotations in a Quilliam counter-extremism report:

“Nationalism and patriotism was instilled in me in a brutalising process lovingly referred to as weeding out the weak.”
Excerpt from testimony of Keith (Former BNP member)

So of course the first thing that pops into my mind is:

Law Books

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The fear of piracy has forced many publishers into using unfriendly DRM systems that halts the sharing of stories. With readers are free to make copies to send to friends and continue spreading great literature from our rapidly growing indie author community. There are no restrictions on making copies and sharing them with others. In fact, we encourage it.

Which, in view of how restrictive DRM’d e-books can be, sounds good; but when I downloaded one of their e-books, the second page opened like this:

We know that you cannot wait to start reading your new ebook. Our lawyers however insist to inform you that this file is subject to the End-User Agreement (which is quite unusual, so better at least check the main points) and by continuing past this welcome page, you are agreeing its terms.

Like many researchers, I read a whole lot of PDFs, often skimming in places. Like many readers, I don’t customarily study the front matter of books. So it was quite a shock to be told I would be entering into a binding legal agreement by scrolling to the third page. (I’m used to Creative Commons licences, but they relate to making copies available, which is already governed by copyright law.) An odd attempt at establishing a meeting of minds, and a sad thing to see from a proudly DRM-free outlet; replacing digital locks with dubious legal hacks still erodes what we used to be able to expect when sitting down to read a book. Websites’ terms of use are often already unspeakable, and it would be bad if document files went the same way.

Equestrian Domestic Portal

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Note to those seeking to shift debate through changing language: the time to try to replace a term is not after your own government has sponsored legislation using and defining that term.

On Iain Duncan Smith’s bid to replace the term ‘zero-hours contracts’ with ‘flexible-hours contracts’, the Spectator asserts that ‘the term “zero hours” is not defined in legislation’. In fact...

Exclusivity terms unenforceable in zero hours contracts
(1) In this section “zero hours contract” means a contract of employment or other worker’s contract under which—
(a) the undertaking to do or perform work or services is an undertaking to do so conditionally on the employer making work or services available to the worker, and
(b) there is no certainty that any such work or services will be made available to the worker.

With Friends Like These...

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...Euroscepticism hardly needs enemies.

Currently, digital media is released online at different times by separate providers in each of the 28 EU countries. This allows the creators — the television producers and musicians — to charge prices in line with the demand for their product in each individual country, thereby maximising their profits. When the EU’s Digital Single Market makes this illegal, the profits of TV, film and music producers will plummet.

Geographic price discrimination does indeed allow distributors to augment their profits. (Distribution costs, on the other hand, tend to be flattened when your goods need not be physically shipped around, or placed on an actual shelf in a physical shop.) Which means that somebody is paying for those maximised profits, and customers in higher-priced regions are paying disproportionately, so long as distributors contrive to keep sales in lower-priced regions from becoming sales or resales into higher-priced ones.

There are genuine questions to ask about how a more liberal market in digital goods would affect the distribution of (gross) profits and therefore investment; but those questions include a fair few about who is currently paying higher prices and why. Eurosceptic campaigners (who might have been expected to shower less love upon a regional carve-up by vested interests) should be more careful about letting the E.U. look like the sole champion of the beleaguered customer.