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Censorship The Media Your Rights Online Apple

German Publishers Want Censorship Talks With Apple 197

An anonymous reader writes "The association of German magazine publishers has sent a letter to Steve Jobs (Google translation; German original here) demanding talks about censorship by Apple. The move draws attention to growing concerns about freedom of the press when a single unelected commercial entity has worldwide control over what gets published for the iPhone and, especially, the iPad." While the magazine publishers may rightly be concerned about private control of a platform that many of them are counting on for their long-term salvation, the German state is at the very least ambivalent about the subject of censorship. This is the country that has banned Wikileaks, sought a ban on violent games, and voted to censor child porn (only to have the president kill the ban as unconstituitonal).
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German Publishers Want Censorship Talks With Apple

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  • by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:28PM (#32399860) Homepage
    The iPad is a *new* device, and anything published on it is available there in addition to all the other devices and media through which publication was previously possible. How could this be a censorship issue worthy of government attention?

    Is it censorship? In the broadest sense, yes. But do I want the federal gov't meddling with this? Any federal gov't? It sets a scary precedent.
  • by jeti ( 105266 ) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:41PM (#32399964) Homepage

    We just don't think of nudity as porn.

  • And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bidule ( 173941 ) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:52PM (#32400054) Homepage

    "A single unelected commercial entity has worldwide control over what gets published for" the PS3.

    "A single unelected commercial entity has worldwide control over what gets published for" the Wii.

    Are they pushing Apple to do the same as Sony and Nintendo, or are they pushing for special privileges?

    What's stopping them from simply publishing their content as web pages?
    Why would they want special applications?

  • by N0Man74 ( 1620447 ) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @04:52PM (#32400056)

    Some of us Americans don't either... though we seemed to be in a minority.

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @05:24PM (#32400326)

    Not the German state.

    Get it now?

    i.e. They want a slice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 2010 @05:28PM (#32400356)

    That's nonsense. Why doesn't anyone have an issue with Microsoft's "lockin" for XBox games? They require the same approval process to get the XBox logo on your game box. They've consistently blocked third party installation of software. Or Nintendo? Nintendo has gone so far as to sue every game publisher that tried to sidestep their approval process... on the NES back in the early 90's. That was almost 20 years ago! Every game for every Nintendo console has to be approved. Or Sony? The PSP had a browser and no flash, and software updates consistently blocked installation of unapproved software.

    Nothing Apple is doing hasn't been done by the game console manufacturers for at least a decade, and mobile phone companies too. You can't install software on my Verizon Env phone without going through their "Get it Now" store, which also requires approval, and this phone was released 2 years before the iPhone existed.

    I don't understand the focus on Apple and the iPhone/iPad or why this is suddenly an issue now. Is everyone blind about this being normal business practice for the entire industry?

  • by Dr. Hok ( 702268 ) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @05:51PM (#32400550)

    Germans usually tolerate porn and other adult content more than in the US.

    True. For instance, I wonder why nobody complains about the beeps that replace all four-letter words (except "Lord") on American TV. (You are aware that the people aren't actually saying "beep", right?) I'd call that censorship. I can live with people saying "fuck" on TV every once in a while.

    On the other hand, I find it hard to live with the knowledge that kids are being abused in order to produce child porn. And I wouldn't (necessarily) call the attempt to dry out the child porn market censorship. I mean, seriously, does it impede your right to free speech if you are not allowed to produce and circulate child porn?

  • Re:And? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shoe Puppet ( 1557239 ) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @06:02PM (#32400638)

    While having the games market under control of these corporations is unfortunate, having media censored by one is actually quite bad for society. Of course, there are still classical newspapers and the internet and thus Apple cannot effectively censor -- but especially if the iPad becomes more widespread, they will be able to influence what people can get easily. I imagine people might choose to ignore a media source because there is no app for it.

    Also, this appears to be a distribution channel people actually are willing to pay for, making access to it even more important for publishers.

  • by datorum ( 1280144 ) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @07:19PM (#32401300)
    >> sought a ban on violent games >Good thing the word sought is there. The conservative hardliners have been talking about it for 20 years now and so far not much has happened. > Preemptive censorship by the publishers is far worse. let me guess why? I am pretty fucking sick of "available in the EU except Germany", "worldwide (except Germany)", etc. on steam, impulse, etc. This happens for games with different themes like Star Wars: Battlefront, Company of Heroes (which as far as I can remember, doesn't have any swastikas in it)... well, maybe these "preemptive censorship" is due to the fact that the put a "ban" (no commercials etc. allowed) on Dark Forces and several other titles ages ago? The content-delivery services seem to be very cautious about what you can buy from German soil...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 2010 @07:24PM (#32401348)

    Its not just kdawson. Which country tried to destroy WikiLeaks?

  • Re:Quit Whining (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bhagwad ( 1426855 ) on Sunday May 30, 2010 @08:11PM (#32401716) Homepage
    I'm well aware of apple's TOS restrictions...but I'll ignore them anyway. And if I ever get taken to court, I have faith in the judiciary at some level upholding my right to do what I want with my device as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 2010 @08:21PM (#32401800)

    The law is not "stopped", it is still in full effect. The government only gave order to the police not to make any blocking lists. According to the law, the telecommunication providers could still be fined if they don't install the blocking infrastructure. And in addition, the government could still say any day, that the police may start blocking offending pages (Unlikely that they would, though, especially now that most people have understood that finding and taking down the servers of child pornography is possible and better than simply DNS blocking them)

  • by 404 Clue Not Found ( 763556 ) * on Sunday May 30, 2010 @10:27PM (#32402810)

    On the other hand, I find it hard to live with the knowledge that kids are being abused in order to produce child porn. And I wouldn't (necessarily) call the attempt to dry out the child porn market censorship. I mean, seriously, does it impede your right to free speech if you are not allowed to produce and circulate child porn?

    An hypothetical example might be that this sort of censorship impedes people's ability to discuss, critique, or advocate pederasty [] or other forms of underage sex (including some socially acceptable/questionable ones like intercourse between two 15-year-olds).

    Sexual ethics change across cultures and time, as do feelings about maturity and age. What we currently consider child abuse has not always been so (and may not always remain so).

    You could argue that underage sex is always child abuse, or you could argue that children are harmed only when societal sexual conservatism makes them believe what they're doing is bad, or you could deliberate over "just how young is too young"... but in none of those cases would you be able to visually illustrate your point. This means graphic depictions of child sexual abuse are illegal, as are works showing a happy underage couple together ("artistic nudity" or "soft porn", your choice), as are -- in modern times -- nude picture messages teenage couples send each other another.

    In the US, the courts agreed that protecting children from sexual harm is such a high priority that it overrules any political or artistic value that child pornography might otherwise have (New York v. Ferber [] was the case, I believe).

    I'm inclined to agree with them, but I think it should be pointed out that this does not mean depictions of underage sex can never have literary, artistic, political or scientific value, only that protecting children is more important even if the works do have value. In other words, we are limiting free speech, but we're doing so to protect a perceived greater good.

  • Re:The internet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tms AT infamous DOT net> on Monday May 31, 2010 @12:31AM (#32403740) Homepage

    Furthermore, censorship is usually the domain of the government, not corporations

    No, it is not, and I do wish propertarians would cease this abuse of language. To censor is "to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable...; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable". [] It does not matter whether it is the government or a private agency doing the suppression, it is still censorship.

    It may be the case that government censorship is more intrusive and threatening to liberty than private censorship, but that does not change the fact that both are members of the same species.

Optimism is the content of small men in high places. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Crack Up"