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Google inks deal with German publishers amid EU copyright reform

The companies confirmed the agreements with the internet giant. 

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Google inks deal with German publishers amid EU copyright reform
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Berlin: Search engine giant, Google has agreed to pay news wire Agence France-Presse (AFP) for the use of its content, following a fine from the French regulator over payment for the use of online news and other content.

Company announced Thursday, that it has signed its first contracts with German publishers following the introduction of a new law that gives more rights to news publishers online.

The agreements were signed, among others, with news magazine Der Spiegel, newspapers Die Zeit, Tagesspiegel, and Stroeer's online news website t-online.de.

The companies confirmed the agreements with the internet giant. 

Conversations with a number of other publishers "are at an advanced stage," Google said in a statement. "For both us and our partners, these copyright agreements represent a milestone in strengthening successful partnerships," it added. The statement did not give details on payments made.

Earlier this year, German copyright law was amended to account for the internet's growing importance regarding copyrighted content. This follows the European Copyright Directive, which has been implemented in European Union member states.

Germany has also passed a new ancillary copyright law for press publishers and journalists in the country.

The changes are intended to ensure that authors and publishers are financially remunerated when external internet platforms incorporate their content into their services. 

Web platforms like Google and Facebook have long been reluctant to pay media for using content such as news article extracts in their user feeds. 

However, the EU’s so-called neighboring rights law—passed in 2019 compelled them to strike payment agreements with the region’s publishers. 

Google and a group of French press titles excluding AFP struck an initial agreement in January. 

In July 2021, the French competition authority fined Google 500 million euros ($593 million) for having failed to negotiate “in good faith” with news outlets. 

Mehak Javed

Mehak Javed is immensely creative and an enthusiastic journalist, contributing in the publication of timely and accurate news. She is a skilled writer along proven history of achievement in the field with several years of professional experience. Mehak is working with GNN since 2020.

World

Ban on travel from Africa widens as new Covid variant sparks fear

WHO names new variant as Omicron which is more infectious than Delta: New virus reaches Europe 

Published by Siddra Sumreen

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Ban on travel from Africa widens as new Covid variant sparks fear

New York: The United States, Brazil, Canada, and Saudi Arabia became the latest countries to restrict travel from southern Africa, where a new Covid strain labelled a "variant of concern" has been discovered in a potentially heavy blow to the world's efforts to end the coronavirus pandemic.

The World Health Organization said the new variant is more infectious than the dominant, highly transmissible Delta strain, and renamed this B.1.1.529 strain of Covid-19 as Omicron.

It has reached Europe with one confirmed case in Belgium after being found in South Africa, Botswana and then in Hong Kong.

Anxious tourists in Johannesburg rushed to the airport to catch a last flight out as nations across the globe started shutting their doors, while many worried the new variant could be more resistant to vaccines.

Markets around the world plunged as news of the latest setback in the fight against the pandemic sank in.

US President Joe Biden said countries should donate more Covid-19 vaccines and give up intellectual property protections to manufacture more doses worldwide to stem the spread of the virus.

"The news about this new variant should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations," he said.

Scientists are now racing to determine the threat posed by the heavily mutated strain, and whether the current coronavirus vaccines should be adjusted.

The WHO said it could take several weeks to understand the variant and cautioned against imposing travel curbs while scientific evidence was still scant.

EU officials holding an emergency meeting agreed to urge all 27 nations in the bloc to restrict travel from southern Africa, even though many members had already announced flight suspensions.

 

- 'Draconian' travel bans -

Europe is already struggling with a coronavirus surge, and the Netherlands on Friday became the latest country to ramp up anti-Covid restrictions with the early closure of bars, restaurants and shops.

"From Sunday, the whole of the Netherlands is effectively closed between 5pm and 5am," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

Belgium announced the first publicly known case of B.1.1.529 in Europe: an unvaccinated person who returned on November 11 from Egypt via Turkey. The health ministry did not give the individual's nationality, age or gender.

"It must be repeated that this is a suspect variant -- we don't know if it is a very dangerous variant," Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said.

Israel said it has quarantined three people, one having just returned from Malawi.

Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Cyprus and the Netherlands joined Britain Friday in suspending flights from southern Africa. 

The United States, Brazil, Canada and Guatemala also restricted travel from the region. The US measures go into force on Monday.

Japan said it will require a 10-day quarantine period for travelers from the area.

The shock measures included South Africa, as well as many of the following: Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

South Africa's health ministry called the global rush to impose travel bans "draconian."

Germany on Friday used a military plane to transfer intensive-care patients to less afflicted regions, in an unprecedented move as it battles a vicious fourth wave of the pandemic.

"The last thing we need now is an introduced new variant," Germany's acting health minister Jens Spahn said.

The Philippines also suspended flights from southern Africa, while Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco announced bans, as well.

 

- 'Ridiculous' -

The rush to close off southern Africa comes a day after scientists in Johannesburg said they had detected the new strain with at least 10 mutations, compared with two for the Delta.

The variant is of "serious concern" and had been blamed for a surge in infection numbers, authorities in South Africa said. 

Spooked European markets fell at close by three percent, with airline shares especially hit. Tokyo closed down 2.53 percent.

The new variant caused Wall Street to plunge in Friday's holiday shortened session, with the Dow Jones index suffering its worst loss of the year as it plunged 2.5 percent.

And next week's World Trade Organization ministerial conference, the global trade body's biggest gathering in four years, was called off at the last minute Friday due to the new variant, a source told AFP.

The European Medicines Agency said it was "premature" to talk about modifying current vaccines to target the new variant.

Germany's BioNTech and US drugmaker Pfizer said they were studying the variant, with impact data expected "in two weeks at the latest" to say whether their jointly developed vaccine should be adjusted if Omicron spreads globally.

But Moderna said it will develop a booster specific to the new variant as part of a three-pronged strategy to fight it.  

Omicron variant poses 'high to very high' risk to Europe

The new Covid variant, dubbed Omicron and originally detected in South Africa, poses a "high to very high" risk to Europe, the EU health agency warned on Friday.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) noted in a threat assessment report that there was still "considerable uncertainty related to the transmissibility, vaccine effectiveness, risk for reinfections and other properties of the Omicron variant."

However, the overall risk that Omicron posed to the European Union and European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) was "high to very high."

Given the possibility that current vaccines may not protect against the variant, and the fact that it may be more transmissible, "we assess the probability of further introduction and community spread in the EU/EEA as high," the Stockholm-based agency said. 

"In a situation where the Delta variant is resurgent in the EU/EEA, the impact of the introduction and possible further spread of Omicron could be very high," it added. 

Apart from South Africa, Omicron has been detected in Israel in a person coming from Malawi as well as in Botswana, Hong Kong and EU member Belgium.

The agency urged countries to conduct genomic sequencing and contact tracing of confirmed cases, and called for people to not travel to affected areas.

The World Health Organization on Friday declared the recently-discovered strain to be a variant of concern.

The classification puts Omicron into the most-troubling category of Covid-19 variants, along with the globally-dominant Delta, plus its weaker rivals Alpha, Beta and Gamma.

Nations rushed to ban flights to slow the spread of Omicron on Friday, while stock markets and oil prices plunged on fears surrounding the variant, potentially dealing a heavy blow to the global economic recovery.

SOURCE: AFP

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Pakistan

IHC rejects contempt of court plea against Maryam Nawaz 

'Judges are open for criticism', IHC Chief Justice remarked

Published by Siddra Sumreen

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IHC rejects contempt of court plea against Maryam Nawaz 

Islamabad: Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday has rejected the contempt of court petition against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

A petition had been moved in the IHC seeking contempt of court proceedings against PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and ex-prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi over their statements related to former chief justice Saqib Nisar.

During the hearing, the petitioner said that the derogatory language used against former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar comes under contempt of court over which, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that judges are open for criticism. 

Remarks about retired officials did not warrant contempt of court charges, even if they were made against a former chief justice, IHC Chief Justice added.

Subsequently, the court has rejected the plea to wrap up the case.

Earlier, the high court had taken notice of revelations leveled by the former chief judge of Gilgit Baltistan Rana Muhammad Shamim regarding PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz and summoned all the parties and Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan in a personal capacity.

Former CJ of Gilgit Baltistan was also served with contempt of court notice.

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Pakistan

Aleem Khan decides to resign as provincial minister

Sources revealed that the senior minister had expressed his desire during a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Published by Mehak Javed

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Aleem Khan decides to resign as provincial minister

Lahore: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Abdul Aleem Khan Friday decided to resign as Senior Minister of Punjab and provincial food minister.

According to sources, Aleem Khan had taken the decision due to his unexplained personal issues. 

Reports quoting sources revealed that the senior minister had expressed his desire during a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Aleem Khan, who was serving as senior minister and holding the portfolio of food.

It is pertinent to mention here that Aleem Khan had resigned twice before and rejoined the provincial cabinet back in April 2020.

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