Digital copyright reforms move a step further after approval of text

Controversial copyright law reforms that could affect what people can share on websites like YouTube have moved one step closer to becoming a reality, after EU decision makers agreed on changes to the text. The Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union (Coreper) concluded discussions on Friday evening on new compromise proposals, which will…

The Digest: Social media told to simplify terms… and 4 other things people are talking about today

[nextpage title="Next"] MPs say they need 'serious discussion' with social networks over users' data  | The Guardian "Social networks should simplify their terms and conditions, to ensure that their users fully understand how their personal data will be collected and used, MPs have concluded. A report by the Commons science and technology committee calls for…

Mobile phone companies agree on universal charger for EU


The 10 companies who control 90% of the European phone market have signed a deal which will see mobile phone chargers become universal by 2010.

The group, which includes Apple, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, LG and NEC, has agreed to a harmonisation that will see mobile phones charged by mini-USB adaptors. The move is not only good for people who have drawers full of various charges – it’s great news for the environment too.

Every year there are 185million phones sold in the EU and therefore around 185million chargers as well. The majority of these chargers become useless after upgrading to a new phone – even, in some cases, if users stay with the same brand.

The idea is that, after an unspecified time following the release of the universal charger, chargers and phones will be sold separately. The move only applies to smartphones and is only for the EU at the moment.

Hopefully, the rest of the world will follow suit soon after. They should do – not only would it save them money because they won’t have to manufacture and package chargers for every phone they sell (I can’t see them reducing the price of phones just because it ships without a charger) it will also be good for their green-credentials.

(via Reuters)

Mobile roaming charges slashed


There’s good news coming out of Brussels (don’t say this to anyone who voted UKIP) regarding mobile phone roaming charges. From July the cost of using your mobile phone abroad could be slashed by a whopping 60%.

Rules drawn up by the EU mean that the costs of a text will be cut to around 10p (€0.11 to be precise) down from the usual 25p – although I know from experience O2 charges 35p.

The costs of calls has been reduced too, although the ridiculous practice that you pay for calls received as well as those made still applies – albeit with price reductions. The cost of a call made will be cut to €0.46 a minute (work it out in pence yourselves, you lazy so-and-sos) and calls received will be €0.22 a minute. These prices will be further reduced in 2010 and 2011.

The cost of web browsing is still astronomical whilst abroad though so unless you’ve got plenty of dosh, avoid this. Prices have been reduced, but only to €1 a MB, meaning a song streamed from or a video watched via YouTube is still going to cost you a few quid.

Alternatively, sign up with Vodafone’s Passport scheme and receive free roaming for three months this summer. You simply pay the usual UK charges – have a read of this post from last month for more details. Or go direct to Vodafone.

(via Digital Lifestyles)

EU starts waving around the ban-hammer at Microsoft again


Way back in 1993, Novell made a complaint to the EU that Microsoft was indulging in anti-competitive practices. After much to-ing and fro-ing, the EU eventually decided (ten years later, in 2003) that Microsoft had to make a version of Windows without Windows Media Player available, and in 2006 hit the company with massive fines, totaling £1.07 billion.

Fast-forward to 2008, and the makers of the web browser Opera filed a similar complaint, claiming that bundling IE with Windows makes it tough for others to compete. I’m not convinced that’s true – Firefox has 20% market share – but clearly someone in the EU still has it in for Microsoft, because they’ve now filed a new complaint against Microsoft saying that IE must be unbundled.

Interestingly, a similar complaint was filed against Microsoft in the USA ten years ago, but it didn’t stick, and Microsoft still bundles IE with its operating systems. It’ll be fun to see whether the EU agrees, and could result in another massive payout. Poor Microsoft. In the meantime, I’m sticking with Chrome.

(via Mashable)

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EU's knee-jerk anti-plasma campaign could lead to total ban and more sensationalist tech headlines


Everyone knows that, in general, large TVs consume more electricity than small ones, but it seems that EU bureaucrats are just turning themselves on to the idea of banning plasma TVs because they’re not energy efficient.

The yawn-inducing title attributed to plasma sets is “the 4×4 of the living room” (I reported this over at HDTVUK two years ago) because it’s easy to lump them all together as electricity guzzlers.

Sweeping generalisations reported in the mainstream press include such gems as “they use up to four times as much electricity and are responsible for up to four times as much carbon dioxide as traditional cathode ray tube sets.” The clue is in those two words — “up to” — which, just as when applied to your flagging broadband connection, can cover a huge range of values…