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Posts tagged Europe

Break up Google?
December 2, 2014 | 6:26 pm

European Union flagHeadlines got duly grabbed by the non-binding vote in the European Parliament calling on the European Commission, currently still in a long-running anti-trust investigation against Google, to demand the separation of the search giant's commercial businesses from its web search engines. The proposal was formulated by two MEPs, Andreas Schwab, from Germany's conservative Christian Democrats, and Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, of Spain's Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya, and passed by 384 votes to 174, but immediately ran into opposition from Guenther Oettinger, the EU’s digital economy commissioner, who declared that there would be "no breaking up of Google." Special interests behind the parliamentarians'...

Lithuania sees campaign launch to restore banned LGBT book
December 1, 2014 | 2:19 pm

Lithuanians have started a campaign to restore a banned book, Gintarinė širdis (“Amber Heart”) by local author Neringa Dangvydė to circulation. which includes same-sex relationships and other LGBT themes, to circulation after its banning in May by the Lithuanian Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics. This happened after the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences found the book to be "harmful, primitive and biased homosexual propaganda." Campaigners have started an Indiegogo fundraising drive targeting $1100 "to reprint the book and return it to society." As at the time of writing, $412 has already been raised, against a cutoff date of December...

Diane Duane holds Cyber Monday sale; may have to close e-book store
November 30, 2014 | 4:58 pm

Diane Duane’s e-book store is running a 50% off sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. All e-books in the store are half-off, no discount code required. But as Duane explains in a blog post, this could very well be her last Cyber Monday sale, because of the new VAT MOSS regulations coming into effect as of the New Year. As Duane points out via a quote from a Huffington Post article on the matter, the new regulation—and its removal of the minimum threshold at which UK businesses need to worry about VAT—is going to hit many UK small businesses particularly...

New European VAT law could threaten small e-businesses
November 29, 2014 | 10:19 pm

New European Union regulations regarding value-added taxes (a sort of European equivalent of sales tax) will take effect January 1, 2015 that could cause problems for businesses selling electronic goods and services. Referred to as VAT MOSS (for “Mini One-Stop Shop,” the web portal each member state will run to make payments easier), the new regulations put the onus on businesses that provide “telecoms/broadcast/electronic services” to EU customers to keep track of and charge each customer VAT at the rates that apply to the country where that customer lives. Previously, businesses were free to charge at the rate that...

The literary cafes of Madrid – great venues in a great literary city
November 23, 2014 | 12:35 pm

Madrid - cradle of the Spanish Golden Age, birthplace of Pedro Salinas, José de Echegaray and José Ortega y Gasset, a city so devoted to literature that it has an entire district dedicated to it, the Barrio de las Letras, containing the residences of Miguel de Cervantes, Quevedo, Góngora, and Lope de Vega ... No surprise that it has some superb literary cafes, for readers and writers alike. Here are a few, culled from poet, painter and actress Sandra Barrera Martín's tribute on Unono.net. La Fugitiva, a bookshop and cafe, "a quiet, cozy place full of curiosities for book lovers," is distinguished by its wide range of cultural activities, book launches, film...

Cause for concern for copyright holders over EU DG Market Commission roles?
September 12, 2014 | 12:25 pm

bookstoreSome alarmed articles have been put about about the transfer of the European Commission copyright portfolio to Commissioner-designate for the Digital Agenda, German Guenther Oettinger, who inherits this from the Internal Market & Services Directorate General (DG Market) arm, where it was siloed in units D1 and D3, according to a report in The Guardian. Oettinger will now oversee an office known hitherto as DG Connect, to be renamed DG Digital Economy and Society. Since Oettinger's predecessor Neelie Kroes was widely criticized by publishing and creative industries figures as too friendly to technology groups at the expense of rights-holders, it's hard to...

Bertelsmann leaves the club as retail book arm closes
July 7, 2014 | 10:25 am

Gerrman media giant Bertelsmann, part owner with Pearson of Big Five behemoth Penguin Random House, is reportedly closing its direct-to-consumer book sales business in Europe, Der Club, and its few retail bookstore premises. According to the Wall Street Journal report, "The company's retail locations as well as the online store, branded under the 'Der Club' label, will cease operations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland by the end of 2015, spelling the end to almost all of Bertelsmann's remaining bookselling activities." A residual business will continue to operate in Russia, the Ukraine, and Spain. As the German press remarks, this decision has long...

Might digital media resale be legal in Europe?
June 12, 2014 | 3:52 am

After the recent Congressional hearing on first sale, it seems unlikely Congress is convinced that allowing resale of “used” digital media would be a good idea. But as British lawyer Tony Ballard writes in FutureBook, they might see things differently in Europe. Ballard brings up the example of a European Court of Justice decision holding that sales of second-hand computer programs did not infringe copyright, even if copies of the program were made in the process of transferring it. A quirk in the relevant Directive permits the buyer of a computer program (unlike other...

Latest Kantar data shows smartphone big boys struggling in Europe
May 27, 2014 | 5:25 pm

Samsung-Galaxy-Note-IIIjpg_thumb.jpgThe latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, covering the three months until April 2014, shows that international leading brands, from Apple to Samsung, are facing attrition from smaller newcomers who are picking away at their market share. Alongside comeback stories from the likes of Motorola are significant successes by companies like China's Huawei, which saw its sales rise 123 percent in the five most significant European markets (the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain) over the past year. "Across Europe there is an accelerating trend of fragmentation in the handset market as smaller brands gain real traction," said Dominic...

Will it help Apple to be big in Japan?
April 30, 2014 | 1:25 pm

appleKantar Worldpanel ComTech has just released its worldwide smartphone sales figures for the first quarter of 2014, with some (moderately) encouraging news for Apple, especially in the light of the not-so-encouraging breakdown in their figures for the previous quarter, as well as some similarly discouraging reporting from IDC. In Japan particularly, the iPhone accounted for 42 percent of sales on leading local network NTT DoCoMo, 59 percent on KDDI AU and 81 percent on Softbank. Elsewhere, however, Apple is not looking so rosy. Kantar notes 70.7 percent market share for Android across the five key European markets of the UK, Germany,...

Bertelsmann CEO gives insights into European media moves
April 29, 2014 | 6:16 pm

Bertelsmann Penguin Random House welcome bannerThe Financial Times has aired an exclusive interview with Thomas Rabe, CEO of Bertelsmann - Europe's biggest media group, and one of its largest family-owned privately held businesses. Oh, and part owner alongside Pearson of Penguin Random House. The Bertelsmann CEO admits that his charge may not only be disadvantaged compared to the likes of Google and Amazon, but also starting from a trailing position - which, however, has recently improved. "I honestly think that we have caught up massively in the past 15 to 18 months,” he says. This situation may be partly the result of the group's response to...

UK language learning hits rock bottom
April 21, 2014 | 12:25 pm

With the UK just a few miles away from la belle patrie in places, you'd think that second language acquisition would be a matter of course. A whole second literature, with the heritage of Proust and Baudelaire and a host of other luminaries, let alone the great wine and cuisine, right there on your doorstep, just waiting for you. Should be a no-brainer, right? Well, according to one highly disgruntled language teacher in England writing on Cafe Babel, it's more a matter of no brains. As much among those setting the curricula and overseeing language learning as among the students. And...