Union cranks up the struggle at Amazon Germany

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WASHINGTON POST. Berlin. 22 September, 2014. Amazon employees in Germany, frustrated by the company’s refusal to hold wage talks, walked off their jobs Monday in a coordinated strike at four of the company’s distribution centers.

A total of 2,000 workers refused to show up for their shifts on Monday in an effort to force the company to accept an agreement in line with other retailers.

The job action was expected to run from the early shift Monday through the late shift on Tuesday, said the Ver.di retail and service workers union, which organized the strike.

Amazon said the number of employees taking part in the strike during the first shift was not significant enough to prevent the company from making its deliveries on time.

"Less than 600 employees of the early shift have followed the call to strike action," Anette Nachbar, a spokeswoman for Amazon in Germany, said in an email. "Therefore the strike will not impede on the compliance with Amazon's delivery promise."

The company employs some 9,000 full-time workers in Germany, with thousands more on temporary contracts.

At the heart of the issue is an attempt by Ver.di to force Amazon to recognize itself as a retailer, which would make it beholden to labor (sic) laws that require wages be set through collective bargaining.

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News Corps presses EU for tougher regulation of Google

Thursday, September 18, 2014

REUTERS. New York. 17 September, 2014. News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson has urged European regulators to reconsider their settlement with Google Inc over its search practices, calling the Internet company an "egregious" aggregator and a "platform of piracy."

In a letter last week to European Commissioner for Competition Joaquín Almunia, Thomson said Google was "willing to exploit its dominant market position to stifle competition" and that the vision of Google's founders had been replaced by a "cynical management". News Corp issued a statement on Tuesday regarding the letter.

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Free training in privacy & info security for journalists

Friday, August 29, 2014

The NUJ and the Centre for Investigative Journalism are jointly running a short free course entitled 'Introduction to privacy and information security: concepts and tools' on Wednesday 17 September 2014, from 18.30 until 20.30, at the NUJ headquarters, Headland House, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP

The workshop for NUJ members will give attendees an overview of the range of threats from public and private organisations and the various measures to deal with them. The trainer will look at what tools to use (and not use) under certain conditions and how to defeat state-level attacks against your communications on a shoestring budget.

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German authors join Amazon e-book protest

Monday, August 18, 2014

NEW YORK TIMES. Berlin, 17 August 2014. Taking a page from their colleagues across the Atlantic, more than 1,000 writers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have united to vent their frustration over the tactics Amazon is using against the Bonnier Group and the authors who are published under its name.

The writers, supported by several hundred artists and readers, have signed an open letter to Amazon, the online retailing giant, accusing it of manipulating its recommended reading lists and lying to customers about the availability of books as retaliation in a dispute over e-book prices.

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Peretti's power of positive thinking

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wired Cover with Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti

Recently surfaced on LinkedIn, here's a communiqué from BuzzFeed co-founder and chief exec, Jaques Peretti (pictured left), revealing his strategy for the company in the coming years. It's caused a bit of a stir, because Peretti says he sees the future of BuzzFeed as the face of media for the new generation. BuzzFeed made its name publishing lists disguised as news articles and, it appears, now intends to publish news articles disguised as lists. The ratio of cliches, claptrap and psychobabble to total word count in Peretti's communiqué is unbelievably high and even the New York Times has observed that no-one in the volatile world of new media holds the key to next year's thing.

It's good that someone like Peretti acknowledges the importance of quality in news reporting, but it's a real pity that so many people greeted the ramblings as a peak in business philosophy. In true BuzzFeed style, here's a list of my top seven meaningless statements from Jonah Peretti combining management bollocks with bar-room futurology:

1) "Nothing is more powerful than small groups of talented people with the freedom to do their best work. This is the key to our future." (That is if you don't consider global conflict, haemorragic viral disease and climate change as very powerful, of course).

2) "Web culture is global, youth culture is global, news is global, and this provides a clear path for BuzzFeed to globalize as well." (Stuff being global is a clear path? Really?)

3) "...luck only takes you so far. We need to get good and then we need to be great." (Is this a plan or half-time pep talk?)

4) "There seems little doubt that the future 'TV network' will be social web video that is viewed and spread on mobile." (Unless you want to watch a movie on your home cinema, that is.)

5) "Lists are an amazing way to consume media. They work for content as varied as the 10 Commandments, the Bill of Rights, Google search results, ESPN’s Sportscenter, and internal company emails." (Not to mention "War & Peace" in numbered paragraphs, my favourite foods, and everyone in the world.)

6) "...Ben has been growing his team ... aggressively, building new teams to cover topics from business to travel..." (Someone seems to have forgotten architecture and zoology.)

7) "We need to build on our past successes but also continue to make changes in how we operate as we move ahead." (Why not ignore the past and stay exactly where you've always been?)

Anyway, here's communiqué. It's where the future's at, apparently:

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Amazon boxes clever

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dear Readers,

I happen to be a Kindle author. I've made about £3 in sales to date—largely because I'm not really trying. Just seeing how the thing works. Anyway, Amazon have been kind enough to try and co-opt me into their fight with Hachette over e-book pricing. Below, you can read the full text of the email the company is sending out to registered Kindle Direct Publishing authors.

I confess that in this particular battle, it's hard to know where to stand. On the one hand, a major multinational publisher and on the other hand a major multinational publisher. Both of them also sell books online—although one of them started out doing this, while the other began life as a publisher. 

So, not much to choose between them. And I must say, I believe many of Amazon's arguments in this battle do have merit. The paperback book does provide a useful comparison to the ebook, and—as the email notes—it was seen as a threat by many established publishers when it was introduced. But the fact is that nobody ever sought to monopolise the trade in paperbacks, notwithstanding Allen Lane's market lead when he introduced the Penguin format. And—as the Guardian has noted—Amazon's use of a partial quote from George Orwell is a piece of bold-faced mendacity that would merit a commendation from the author's own Ministry of Truth in 1984.

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Victory: format shifting and parody clear last hurdle

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

OPEN RIGHTS GROUP. London, 30 July 2014. After nine years of campaigning, we have finally done it, writes Javier Ruiz of the Open Rights Group. The House of Lords yesterday cleared the last hurdle for parody and private copies to be legal under copyright law in the UK. Several new limitations to update copyright were agreed in June, but private copying, often called format shifting, and parody were held back, creating fears that they might be dropped.

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Net neutrality and the global digital divide

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A pro-net neutrality Internet activist attends a rally in the neighborhood where U.S. President Barack Obama attended a fundraiser in Los Angeles, California, 23 July 2014 ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION. San Franciscso, 28 July 2014. EFF's position on net neutrality simply calls for all data that travels over the Internet to be treated equally, writes Jeremy Malcolm. This means that we oppose ISPs blocking content based on its source or destination, or discriminating against certain applications (such as BitTorrent), or imposing special access fees that would make it harder for small websites to reach their users. We have called for the FCC to assume firm legal authority to protect the neutrality of the net from these sorts of abuses, while explicitly forbearing from going any further to regulate the Internet.

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Other stories

The new face of ‘networking’

Privacy policy brings Google to Europe

International PR firms agree to stop abusing Wikipedia

Google and US universities cleared to copy books without seeking authors' permission

Don't Spy on Us

US tech companies agree to pay workers $324 million in wage-fixing settlement

Is it or isn't it?

European media tycoon attacks Google, Facebook

Top US tech companies formed employer cartel on wages and salaries

Al Shabaab bans the internet

SumOfUs's lesson for new unionism

UGC checking - the latest growth area for journalism


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