All posts by Valentina Cordero

Copyright: EU signs the Treaty of Marrakech

Blind and visually impaired people will soon have access to the same books as other people. In late April, the European Union signed in Geneva the Marrakech Treaty, the first international agreement to improve access to published books without the copyright holder’s permission.

The treaty (also known as the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities) was finalized in June 2013 during a Diplomatic Conference of the World Intellectual Property Organization in Morocco. But it took a year for the European Union to sign it. “International law do take forever,” said Mark Richert, director of public policy at the American Foundation for the Blind, in a phone interview.

The treaty is considered an important step toward equal opportunity. Fewer than 5 percent of the books published each year are accessible to visually impaired and blind people, according to the World Blind Union. The reason is copyright laws.

“It is the first time that an international agreement makes the sharing of materials between countries possible,” said Richert.

The treaty allows the countries that sign it to introduce copyright extensions. Authorized entities, such as organizations serving the blind, will be allowed to produce and distribute print and electronic works in a format accessible to the blind and visually impaired without the copyright holder’s permission. The treaty will also provide cross-border transfers of those works.

“It is the first treaty that I am aware of that spells out the rights of readers as opposed to the copyright,” said Richer. “Most of the international intellectual property or copyright treaties are all about protecting the rights of copyright owners.”

To take effect, the treaty has to be ratified by 20 countries. So far, 64 countries have signed it, but no country has ratified it.

News: Heidegger’s antisemitism revealed by his secret blacknotes

heidegger

 

The world of Philosophy is in turmoil as Martin Heidegger’s private notes, known as Blacknotes, were recently published in Germany for the first time, revealing his antisemitism.

Heidegger’s thought is considered a steppingstone. With his book Being and Time (1927) and his exploration of the “Being” question , he is one of the most influential philosopher of the 20th century. The Blacknotes encompass three notebooks that he wrote between 1931 and 1942. The notes are his private reflections against Jewish people that he described as “people without a land”, “with a talented calculation,” and as people that “live according to the principle of race.”

“The antisimetic sentences in the Blacknotes are disgusting and terrible,” said Günter Figal, German philosopher and president of The Martin Heidegger Society. “They have saddened me. I would have never thought to find those kinds of reflections in Heidegger.”

Heidegger’s attraction for the Nazism has been documented enough. Nazism, in fact, drew his attention but only for one year. And as of today, Heidegger’s antisemetic views were only considered something that have never affected his philosophy and his works at all.

For sure, according to Taylor Carmen who is professor of Philosophy at Barnanrd College, “it is depressing to learn that Heidegger embraced such bigotry and he took seriously such stupid fantasies about the Jews in Europe.” But this is not surprising at all. “It is hard for people to accept that being a genius in one area doesn’t prevent you from being an imbecile in another, or in everyday life, but that’s how it is,” he said during an interview.

Despite the fact that Heidegger’s reflections are strongly negative against Jewish, as Figal underlined, the Philosophy of the 20th century could not be thought without Heidegger.

MINI PROFILE: WHEN A DREAM COMES TRUE

Manuel Giannantonio is an example of how dreams can come true, if one deeply believes in them.

Giannantonio, 29, grew up in Perugia, Italy, where he attended high school and studied political science at the University.

But, since his childhood, he had one dream: to become a writer and journalist.

“Writing for me represents everything”, he said during a phone interview. “When I write I feel good, I feel alive.”

Since 2011, he has been the editor of the website 2duerighe.com’s foreign affairs section, and he has collaborated with other websites, such as fanpage.it. He has also written about technology and liberty of expression.

Giannantonio, according to the DataMediaHUB.it (it collects information about Italian media) is one of the most followed journalists on Twitter in Italy. “I like to interact on Twitter because it is immediate,” he said. Being in that race, for him, is a good satisfaction.

In addition, what has always really captured his attention was the international movement of activist and hacker called Anonymous. He wrote many articles about the movement, and he became so passionate about it that he published in April 2013 the book Anonymous: Luce sulla guerra nell’ombra (Anonymous: Light on the war conducted in the shadow).

Manuel Giannantonio with his first book
Manuel Giannantonio with his first book

The book describes this international group’s attacks on corporate websites and governments. Critics reviewed Giannantonio’s work in a positive way particularly because of his simple writing style. And soon the book ranked in the Top Books rate sold online by the Italian ilmiolibro.it.

For Giannantonio, the information is very important to understand our reality. “In order to be able to live our present we need to be well informed,” he said. “The Information’s transparency is our main goal.”

Critical analysis: the mystery made up of violence that became a bestseller

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a must read book for everyone who loves crime novels.

Thegirlwiththedragontattoo

It is the first book of the Millennium trilogy (which includes The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest), written by the Swedish author Stieg Larsson, who died before the trilogy was published.

Once one starts reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, published in 2005, one won’t be able to stop reading because of the essence of mystery.

The story portrays the disappearing of the industrial Henrik Vange’s grand-nice, Harriet. Vanger, convinced that the girl, who disappeared 40 years earlier, is still somewhere alive, hired the journalist Mikael Blomkvist to find the truth. With the help of the computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, Blomkvist will find out that Harriet’s disappearing is related to the violent past of the Vanger’s family made up with murders and sex crimes.

The book, which became a movie, entails two characters (the journalist and the hacker) with two different stories, but they both have to solve Harriet’s dark enigma.

But what makes the book so much involving that it became a bestseller both in Europe and in the U.S.? Simply everything, such as the two different stories inside the story and the characters deeply described, as Salander: a sexually assaulted girl with a traumatic past who tries to make a living with her computer hacking skill.

With a simple but incisive language, along with violent scenes that hit the reader’s minds, Larsson was able to tell a story with a humanistic and tragic sense. One profound message emerges between the written lines: men who abuse women. The book in fact wants to be a critique of the Swedish dark side system of violence towards women.

Mini Profile: The Universe of Jostein Gaarder

It is a world made of enigmas, magic letters, mysterious libraries, and children speaking with angels. This is the world of Jostein Gaarder, a Norwegian writer that describes his works as Chinese boxes, because “every book is a story inside a story.” He is an author who writes from a child’s viewpoint.

When one starts reading his books, one can easily understand that they are different from the conventional ones. Why?

They could be described as written pages where the romance becomes a text about the history of Philosophy, and the history of Philosophy becomes a romance. Exactly, from Democritus to Plato, from Kant to Hegel, arriving to the contemporary Thought. The greatest example is Sophie’s World: a young girl learns Philosophy thanks to some letters left in her mailbox by a mysterious teacher.

It is the book that gave him a worldwide popularity. It was published in 1991 and translated into more than 50 languages. Translated into a movie, it was the most read romance in 1995.

“His imaginative mind brings Philosophy to life” said Cristiano Turbil, from the University of Kent, United Kingdom.

Gaarder’s books, with fairy tale titles, are adventures in the space and in the time. The involving plot is made up of curious children that explore the concept of human beings and existence trying to answer questions such as “Where does the world come from?”

As Turbil underlined, Gaarder’s style is a type of fiction. “He writes in a very accessible way putting together the complexity of Philosophy and the simplicity proper of the story telling,” he said.

This is true in all his works, from the The orange girl to The Solitaire Mystery, from Through a glass, Darkly to The Christmas Mystery, where the line between reality and fantasy doesn’t exist.

For his contribution to literature, Gaarder won many prizes, such as the Premio Bancarella (1995) and the Buxtehude Bull (1997).

Gaarder’s books are not only for young readers but also for adults. They are for everyone.

His works are only some of the books I grew up with.