Brexit is an opportunity to reverse the tragic decline of marriage in Britain

Yes, I was amazed by this heading too. It is over an article by Paul Coleridge in the Telegraph.

Fortunately Lucy Reed has done the ground work of ridicule in the Pink Tape blog: Who knew? The EU destroyed the traditional nuclear family. I will quote the same bit she quotes:

And this “State will provide” attitude infected our national domestic life too. The generous welfare system did nothing to discourage family breakdown and it became economically possible for a woman to support children without financial support from herself or a husband. More and more items of our household expenditure were picked up by the State. Notions of individual family self-reliance faded.

and here’s her comment on that:

Dammit, how I *wish* we could go back to those good ol’ times when it was economically impossible for a woman to support children without financial support (and permission) from her husband. If only it weren’t for women’s pesky notions of individual self-reliance we could go back to those happy days where people were forced to stay in unhealthy and abusive relationships that damaged themselves and their children.

Paul Coleridge is a retired judge, born 1949. While still acting, he was disciplined for an article that was presumably similar. From that 2013 article:

Sir Paul, 64, has said he would have continued sitting as a judge for several more years had he not met opposition towards him expressing his beliefs on marriage.

Votes for Life Bill petition for UK citizens living abroad

The Votes for Life Bill is to allow UK citizens living outside the UK to vote in parliamentary and EU elections, even if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years. The government currently intends that even if this bill is passed before the EU referendum, it should not apply to that referendum.

There is a petition for UK citizens to sign if they want to be able to vote in the referendum. Here is the link:
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/111271

The petition must have been started in October as it ends in April. Apparently there are about 2 million UK citizens living abroad, but some of them have been abroad for less than 15 years so they are entitled to vote here.

Some sources: Votes for Expat Brits blog
a BBC Radio 4 podcast: Carolyn Quinn explores the practical process by which Britain would exit the EU if UK voters opt to leave, and looks at the experience of Greenland, which quit the EEC in 1985.

Translators and copyright

HC0114287

Translation and intellectual property rights is a brochure/PDF prepared for the EU by Bird and Bird LLP. It is only available in English (a bit Franglish).

The brochure considers the law in the EU and in a number of countries (Belgium, France, Germany and the UK). It considers it both from an upstream point of view (is the original text subject to copyright?) and a downstream one (is the translation subject to copyright?).

Whether one’s translation might be copyright is one of those topics that translators’ mailing lists get heated about every year or so.

Copyright usually attaches to literary and artistic works. But what about other types? For example, are statutes copyrighted? One hopes not. They should be freely distributed. Thus it’s interesting that the EU does not exclude EU publications from copyright, but at the same time the Commission’s policy is to increase their use:

In this respect, the status of European Union publications is not very clearly regulated. On the one hand, there is no legal provision at the European Union level, as it is the case under national laws, which stipulates that legal texts such as Regulations or Directives fall within a category of works are deprived of copyright protection. The “Legal notices and copyright” contained within the “Information Provider’s Guide”40 and the section related to copyright in the Interinstitutionnal style guide”41 (these two documents emanate from the European Union institutions) both tend to go in the opposite direction: they provide for that the European Union owns a copyright on all official publications of the Union institutions or bodies. It does therefore not seem that the official texts of the European Union are legally excluded from copyright protection. That being said, the reuse policy of the European Commission42 aims at increasing the use and the spread of the European Union information, also to foster innovation. Hence we believe that the official texts of the European Union fall under that policy and should be easily and freely reused despite their possible copyright protection, in accordance with the provisions laid down under Decision 2011/833/EU, hence, among other things, under reservation of the
exclusive rights of third parties.

There is a comparison of how the four countries treat works created by an employee in the course of employment.
Exceptions to copyright, e.g. for educational use, are discussed, and this is also related to the problem of machine-aided translation (where your database might contain elements from copyright works). The law as it stands would appear not to protect machine (-aided) translation, and the authors would welcome ‘full compulsory harmonization’.
Another aspect considered is how various legal systems treat translations carried out without the original author’s consent.

I was particularly interested in the protection of official translations of official texts.

It derives from the situation created by the Berne Convention that a distinction must be made in most Member States between the following three types of works: (i) official texts/acts; (ii) official translations of official texts/acts; and (iii) non-official translations of official texts/acts. For the first two categories the regime is rather straightforward: no copyright protection. …The situation is more complex with respect to non-official translations of official texts/acts. Scholars consider that the wording of article 2(4) in fine indicates a contrario that a contracting party of the Berne Convention “cannot deny protection to non-official translations of these texts – presumably translations made by private publishers”.

(Is in fine a French Latinism for the German am Ende? haven’t seen it in English before).

There is more, of course, including information on database rights and recommendations for contracts with translators – I have just skimmed the 146 pages. There’s a bibliography and case references too. Recommended.

Some links

1. In Court in the act: How many European Courts are there? the IPKAT discusses the confusion:

Confusingly similar — but these folk shouldn’t be confused. The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has emailed the information that a new intellectual property case has been referred to the Court of Justice, but it has got itself into something of a mess as to which Court of Justice it means. After the EU’s judicial institutions were renamed, this weblog, in common with many other people and publications, has practised calling the EU’s Court of Justice the Court of Justice of the European Union, abbreviating it as the CJEU. The UKIPO however prefers to refer to this Court as the European Court of Justice and to abbreviate it as the ECJ.

2. Prof. Dr. Thomas M.J. Möllers of Augsburg University has set up a database of some areas of German and EU commercial law: Daten­bank zum deut­schen und euro­päi­schen Wirt­schafts­recht which looks useful and will be kept updated. Link from Unternehmensrechtliche Notizen, the weblog of Prof. Dr. Ulrich Noack.

3. Angry solicitors
It’s not easy to find a good solicitor, except by recommendation. I was dissatisfied with one firm, but a recommendation to find a further recommendation via the Law Society was not useful. I mean, I knew in advance it wouldn’t be. But I established that firms pay something to be accredited by the Law Society, The Law Society: Find a solicitor you naturally have to pay a fee. So firms with enough work have little incentive to be on that lis (rather like Which’s lists recommending builders and tradesmen, which I’ve also had problems with).

Anyway, The Law Gazette reports that

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has agreed to share its data on solicitors with comparison websites set up by third parties by the end of this year.
The regulator has responded to a call from the Legal Services Consumer Panel to provide more information for online registers of practitioners.
In a letter to the panel, SRA executive director Crispin Passmore said a ‘data extract’ – likely to include the size of the firm and any disciplinary issues in the past – will be in place by Christmas.

Of course, the fact that there have been a large number of complaints against a firm does not mean that these were upheld. I recommend reading the comments under the article:

… I’ll let the moronic comsuner panels and ombudsmen, and touchy-feely “empowerment in legal choices” briage into a secret here [hush]… people pay to be included in a comparison site, it isn’t done out of the goodness of anyone’s heart.
That’s right. Amazing though it may sound, you don’t have to have to be the best to be on the “Bestsest ever solicitors .com” – you just have to set up the monthly direct debit! And who is going to pay a comparison website to publicise their complaints data?
I didn’t even know that the “Chair” of the Legal Services Consumer Panel (£15,000 per year for turning up 30 days a year) has a blog. Now I do know, I still can’t read it, because of the irresistable urge to burn my PC.

Btw, the Chair does have a blog, but she doesn’t know the difference between a blog and a post.

(Via Delia Venables)

Correction/Korrektur

On August 10, I posted an entry stating that I was suspicious about an article in the Times about EC translators. Today I read on the ITI website – members’ forum – that a member of the ITI Council had spoken to the DG in question and it appeared that either the Times reporter did not understand the discussion or the DG was misquoted. The DG decided not to issue a correction to the article because they did not think it was necessary.

I added a note to the entry, which I sometimes do, but I thought it was worth posting here too.

Unauthorized use of titles/Ermittlungen gegen Gebrauch eines US-Doktortitels

There’s been some excitement in the press about criminal investigation proceedings against some highly qualified Americans at the Max Planck Institute in Jena and elsewhere. They had the temerity to describe themselves as Dr. and Professor Dr. But in Germany, you can use Dr. as part of your name only if the doctorate is German.

What academic titles one can bear is governed by Land law. When I started teaching at a Bavarian Fachakademie in 1982, I was not allowed to call myself Frau Dr. Marks, although this did not stop my employer doing so. I was not even allowed to write Ph.D. after my name – I would have had to pay a sum of 83 DM, I think it was, to be allowed to do so. I may have broken this rule, because I certainly didn’t pay the money. I don’t know what the penalties were, but it was a matter of administrative law as far as I was concerned.

In recent years, the situation has been relaxed for EU citizens. I suppose Germany was forced to grant reciprocity. I was still told I might call myself Frau Dr. (London) Marks. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

The Kultusministerium used to write to a British fellow-examiner, who was employed at the FIM Fachakademie in Munich, as Herr Dr. X. One day I found out while chatting to him on the phone that his Ph.D. was from Oxford! This was before the EU relaxation. Shortly afterwards I was able to leverage the forbidden title out of the Kultusministerium after I wrote them a letter (they had curtly told my school principal a few years before that a Kultusministerium cannot call a foreigner Dr.).

Anyway, the hoo-hah now relates to Americans and to section 132a of the German Criminal Code, which imposes a sentence of up to one year’s imprisonment or a fine on those who use German or foreign titles without authorization. § 132a German § 132a English.

The main purpose of this section is apparently to protect the general public against those falsely claiming expertise. Using the title on one’s business card is evidence, but I presume that if the person does not normally act in a manner likely to damage the public, the charges will be dropped.

See article in the Washington Post, Non-European PhDs In Germany Find Use Of ‘Doktor’ Verboten.

Ian Thomas Baldwin, a Cornell-educated researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, has stopped calling himself “Dr.” ever since he was summoned for interrogation by police two months ago on suspicion of “title abuse.”
“Coming from the States, I had assumed that when you get a letter from the criminal police, you’ve either murdered someone or embezzled something or done something serious,” said Baldwin, a molecular ecologist. “It is absurd. It’s totally absurd.”

Der Spiegel has the story in German.

In der Tat hatte sich der Amerikaner auf Visitenkarten, Briefpapier und der Internet-Präsenz seines Instituts als “Prof. Dr. Ian Baldwin” bezeichnet. Das hatte sich Baldwin so angewöhnt, weil ihn seine deutschen Kollegen exakt so angeschrieben hatten. An “Professor Dr. Ian T. Baldwin” etwa war der Brief adressiert, mit dem die Max-Planck-Gesellschaft ihren Neuzugang 1996 herzlich begrüßt hatte, einen von gleich drei Amerikanern, die sie für Jena gewinnen konnte. Auch Einladungen zu Vorträgen an Universitäten ergingen immer an den “Prof. Dr.”.

Der Spiegel says that the problem has probably been caused by a frustrated foreigner who is not allowed to call himself Dr. in Germany and who is taking his revenge by reporting Max Planck Institute scientists who do this to the police, who are then happy to pursue the complaints.

LATER NOTE: there are at present 77 comments on the Washington Post article. There are some wonderfully ignorant and ranting remarks: the term ‘reichsanwalt’ contributed by someone in Munich with a law degree, the suggestion that Germany only became a nation in the 1930s, the view that fascism has reigned in Europe since the Roman Empire and the EU was the first step towards ‘the end’, and ‘The Germans have been causing trouble as far back as the Goths’. Also some good sense on § 132 from Robert Gellately. Great irritation at Germany being the only country in the world to require a licence to play golf. And ‘not all bad, puts Condi Rice down a couple of pegs. Univ. of Denver prob wont even make the 200 school list when they relax the law.’

Via German American Law Journal blog, which points out that the press will have a wonderful anti-German field day with this.

Internet miscellany/ Vermischtes aus dem Internet

1. Try out mobile phones / Handy ausprobieren bei TryPhone (more models to be added). via Lifehacker

2. I know why I’d be worried about a referendum on the EU Treaty in the UK: it’s the British media. The Economist blog, Certain ideas of Europe, does a good job of showing them up, on the basis of a Sun article copied elsewhere, that refers to European judges as ‘unelected’ as if English judges were elected and places the ECJ in Luxembourg.

3. Audio: During the German train strike, rob-log produced a spoof ICE announcement to passengers (in German, but with a very authentic-sounding attempt at a brief English message at the end): …bitten wir kurz um Ihre Aufmerksamkeit…

Pied piper of Hamelin / Rattenfänger in Spanien

The plague of the common vole (Microtus arvalis, Feldmaus) in Spain this year has led to desperate measures such as burning.

Such drastic measures are only permitted by European Union officials in exceptional circumstances and many observers are questioning why the EU has wasted so much time and money in dragging voles through the courts on previous occasions when burning them to death is so much quicker, cheaper and effective.

This precept could be applied to many court cases.

It’s a shame they are not the right food for the vultures that have now emigrated to the Netherlands after carcasses were no longer left out on the hills.

I’m not sure that driving the voles with ultrasound to where they can be burned or drowned is quite the same as the Pied Piper of Hamelin luring them away with music. But perhaps the playing of various instruments in Villotilla is?

According to my book on European mammals, the common vole is breeds faster than any other mammal. One vole lives for 4 – 5 months and can produce 500 descendants in that time. If the population is too dense, they attack each other and may even eat weaker ones. The situation improves when there is mass death, usually at the beginning of the cold weather.

Thanks to Trevor, who is taking the vole plague with equanimity.