Friday, 26 August 2011

London riots radio reporting

Please find below some of the radio reports and commentaries I did for Radio 1 in the Netherlands during the London riots, an impression of the events that took place in the British capital and which sent shock waves through the nation. - in Dutch.
  • Riots have broken out and youths are looting in north, east and south London, click HERE
  • The first arrests are being made but the situation is still not under control, click HERE
  • Arrests and prosecutions are in full swing and order has been restored on the streets of London, click HERE
  • The riots are followed by a fierce political debate and the judiciary is working overtime, click HERE
  • A week after the riots: No mercy for the arrested looters, are the sentences too stiff? Click HERE

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Severe weather warning for London

LONDON – You would think the hordes of noisy summer tourists and the many delayed tube lines - due to summer engineering works - are enough reasons to stay around the house, but if you are planning to spend Tuesday at home, you could not have picked a better day. 

On top of the crowded West End streets and the transport saga, the Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for the London area. The UK's national weather service announced this morning that it expects ‘torrential rain’ and said ‘there is a risk of localised flooding’. 

A Spokeswoman of the Meteorological Office told the BBC: "A yellow alert has been issued to highlight the risk of localised surface-water flooding".

Jim Knighton, of the London Fire Brigade, advises everyone to stay indoors as much as possible, and assured me that the Fire Brigade is "ready and waiting to help people who might be hit by flooding”. He added that “keeping people safe is our top priority but flooding can also devastate people's properties and possessions, so wherever possible we use sandbags to keep water out of people's homes". Clearly, London is on standby and ready to be drenched.

With street vendors at every corner trying to talk you into a cheap umbrella and the black cabbies doing great business today, another advantage of this typical English weather is, in light of recent events, hard to ignore: surely there won't be any looters out today.

Please find the Met Office's weather forecast HERE


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Read if you dare

LONDON - The UK Court of Appeals ruled on 26 July that users of news clippings' services must obtain a license from publishers if they wish to click legally on links that take them to the newspaper websites in question. If not, they might be infringing the publisher's copyright.

Most publishers have no objection if an article is looked at for non-commercial purposes, but when it comes down to 'clippings' services, it is entirely a different issue.

The Court of Appeal upheld a High Court decision that clients of a news clippings service, Meltwater - relating to marketing and PR firms - must be in possession of a license in order to look at articles on newspapers' websites, through Meltwater. The Court held that only those who look at these sites for nonprofessional purposes are not breaching any rights, which means that professionals who browse through articles at work - and with their clients in mind - are likely to break the law.

The Court of Appeal did not specify what ' commercial /non-commercial use' is, but perhaps should have done so: when are you looking at a newspaper article 'as part of your job'? Publishers' terms and conditions usually contain a paragraph that states that an article can only be accessed for 'personal and non-commercial' use: does this mean that only someone who reads certain articles at home for his own interest, is not breaking the law? What if that information later on goes to be used in the course of work, one way or another?

Some websites, including those of the Financial Times and the free business daily City AM, are nearly exclusively visited by professionals who want to keep themselves up-to-date with developments in the industry. Not because they want to, but because their job requires them to do so. So it is hard to implement the Court's decision: in many ways, every day, millions of people are possibly breaching publishers' copyrights on a daily basis.

As a result, the Court has - probably unwillingly - put the online publishing industry into turmoil. Surely, newspapers would not want to forbid people from reading their free online editions? Their advertisers would get nervous and the value of the site as a whole would go down. And certain pages could be scrapped if professionals are not allowed to pay them a visit. Undoubtedly, the Court wanted to protect publishers' copyrights and highlight the issue of unique content protection, but if a news service is offered freely and openly to all, you should be able to read its content without having to fear you are breaking the law.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Madeleine McCann India 'sighting'

INDIA - The ongoing search for the missing British girl Madeleine McCann - who disappeared in May 2007 during a family holiday in Portugal - took a surprising twist last week after a young girl matching Madeleine's description was spotted at a market in northern India. A British tourist noticed a girl 'bearing a remarkable likeness to Madeleine' in the Indian city of Leh. Madeleine, who vanished just before her fourth birthday, would now be eight years old. I reported this incident for Radio 1 in the Netherlands. To listen to the broadcast, click HERE - in Dutch


Monday, 15 August 2011

Visa is losing grip on the Asian market

SEOUL/BEJING - South Korea’s largest credit card firm, BC Card, is considering legal action against payment processor Visa, the Chinese press agency Xinhua has reported. “BC Card plans to file a complaint against Visa with the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) over its unfair transaction activities”, an official at BC Card told Xinhua

The official claims that Visa has recently imposed fines of up to $100.000 on BC Card for not processing international transactions through the VisaNet payment system, a requirement Visa has for local partners wishing to carry out international transactions. BC Card claims Visa has withdrawn $50.000 from its settlement account as BC Card used China UnionPay instead for international transfers. Another fine of $50.000 was because BC Card used Star Network – a USpayments network – to process international transactions. 

Experts have stressed these latest incidents are another sign Visa is losing grip on the region and China UnionPay’s influence is growing in Asia. China UnionPay is the sole bankcard processor in China and its overseas presence has grown significantly in recent years.


Thursday, 4 August 2011

eBay liable for your fake Gucci or Prada

Luxembourg - The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that eBay - and similar online marketplaces and auction sites - may be liable for trademark and copyright infringements if their users offer and sell counterfeit goods on their websites. 

In a case brought by the French cosmetics giant L’Oréal, Europe's most important Court has ruled that online marketplaces should not be exempted from liability if they have indications that suggest that certain online sales are unlawful, and they do not remove such items or block the sale of these products on their websites. For years, it has been common practice that fake products have sold under luxury brand names such as Armani, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Richemont and Burberry.

The Court of Justice for the EU also said that under European law operators of online marketplaces can be ordered by national courts to take measures to prevent counterfeit goods being sold on their sites. This means courts in the UK, Germany, France, Italy or other European Union countries can step in and obstruct the sale of fake bags, scarfs, clothes, shoes and other common luxury goods. 

Online marketplaces are, however, not liable for copyright infringement if they merely allow customers to display signs of trade marks next to their goods, but there are no signs the actual goods are offered as such.

Kirsten Gilbert, a partner at the London law firm Marks & Clerk, said in a response: "EU trade mark law has been straining under the pressure of dealing with the internet age. The rise of online commerce has created a host of scenarios never envisaged when our laws were drafted. Today's ruling will give national courts guidance on how to approach just one of these scenarios”.

Published previously in a London based publication, August 2011. Copyrights apply. Picture:

Monday, 1 August 2011

US accelerates crackdown on online gambling

Washington/New York - Authorities in the US are stepping up efforts to enforce the country’s strict online gambling laws.   

On 23 June, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized ten domain names, among them and Ann Marie Puig, of, as well as Darren Wright and David Parchomchuk, of BetEd owner ThrillX Systems, have been indicted on counts of alleged money laundering and operating an illegal gambling business, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland announced.

On the same day payment processor Bradley Franzen, one of 11 people indicted on Black Friday, last April, admitted to helping PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker to circumvent US laws that prohibit the processing of payments from online gambling websites. 

Franzen pled guilty to criminal charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison, although he has entered a guilty plea deal that recommends leniency at his sentencing which is scheduled for 26 August.

Michiel Willems 2011, published previously in a London based publication. Copyrights apply at all times.

Radio 1 reports - in Dutch

Some items I did for Radio 1 in the Netherlands in the last few weeks.

For my radio broadcast from the world premiere of the last Harry Potter movie click HERE

For my radio broadcast about former News International chief Rebekah Brooks click HERE

For my radio broadcast about the beginning of the British phone hacking scandal click HERE