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World Business List scam

March 27, 2019, 09:36:46 AM by kat
SCAM WARNING: Similar to the eBusiness Number Registry scam (operated under the auspices of EU Business Services Ltd - this appears to be a UK registered company (there are 5 or so companies registered with similar names), which if so, may be breaking some regulations with respect to British companies being obligated to list their registered address and business number on ALL communications. Ed.), and possibly run by the same parties, is the World Business List scam. It operates the same way; businesses pay a fee to be listed in a searchable business directory the owners do little it anything to promote, money (€995 per year or c.$1000) for old rope yet again.

The following is a copy/paste from the application form and is strikingly similar to eBusiness Number Registery's, and similarly with their Terms of Service, talk little about the service being offered and a whole lot about making sure they get paid.
Quote
THE SIGNING OF THIS DOCUMENT REPRESENTS THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS AND THE CONDITIONS STATED IN "THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR INSERTION" ON WEB PAGE: WWW.WORLDBUSINESSLIST.NET THE SIGNING IS LEGALLY BINDING AND GIVES YOU THE RIGHT OF AN INSERTION IN THE ONLINE DATABASE OF THE WORLD BUS INESS LIST WHICH CAN BE ACCESSED VIA THE INTERNET, ALL IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONTRACT CONDITIONS STATED IN "THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR INSERTION" ON WEB PAGE: WWW.WORLDBUSINESSLIST.NET. THE VALIDATION TIME OF THE CONTRACT IS THREE YEARS AND STARTS ON THE EIGHTH DAY AFTER SIGNING THE CONTRACT. THE INSERTION IS GRANTED AFTER SIGNING AND RECEIVING THIS DOCUMENT BY THE SERVICE PROVIDER. I HEREBY ORDER A SUBSCRIPTION WITH SERVICE PROVIDER EU BUSINESS SERVICES LTD. "WORLD BUSINESS LIST". I WILL HAVE AN INSERTION INTO ITS DATABASE FOR THREE YEARS. THE PRICE PER YEAR IS EURO 995. THE SUBSCRIPTION WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY EXTENDED EVERY YEAR FOR ANOTHER YEAR, UNLESS SPECIFIC WRITTEN NOTICE IS RECEIVED BY THE SERVICE PROVIDER OR THE SUBSCRIBER TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE EXPIRATION OF THE SUBSCRIPTION. YOUR DATA WILL BE RECORDED. THE PLACE OF JURISDICTION IN ANY DISPUTE ARISING IS THE SERVICE PROVIDER’S ADDRESS. THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE SERVICE PROVIDER AND THE SUBSCRIBER IS GOVERNED BY THE CONDITIONS STATED IN "THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR INSERTION" ON WEB PAGE: WWW.WORLDBUSINESSLIST.NET


Quote
Hello,

In order to have your company inserted in the World Business List for 2019/2020, please print, complete and submit the attached form (PDF file) to the following address:

World Business List
P.O. BOX 34
3700 AA ZEIST
THE NETHERLANDS

Fax: +31 205 248 107

You can also scan the completed form and attach it in a reply to this email.

Updating is free of charge.

European Commission on the Copyright Directive, Article 11 & Article 13

March 23, 2019, 09:18:21 AM by kat
Recently the European Commission posted to Medium[1] about the finalising steps of the European Parliaments Copyright Directive, Article 11 and Article 13 in particular, but pulled it shortly after publication citing "We have removed this article as it has been understood in a way that doesn’t reflect the Commission’s position.".

What's interesting about this having happened is that the original text actually provides a fairly accurate summary of the situation content creators find themselves in, one that essentially has their content being unreasonably exploited commercially, as the case is being made, without what might be considered, adequate compensation from those doing the exploiting, that's YouTube, Google, Facebook and other BigTech platforms.

The article also correctly voiced concerns over the discussion being astro-turfed, redirected or hijacked by disingenuous grass-roots campaigns created and promoted by the same platforms who have far greater reach than any Government[2]. Whilst some of the language, the way the core idea was expressed, might be a little off (to say the least), backlash to which prompting the removal, the overall point being made is an accurate summary of the situation creators face.

With all that said, this does NOT mean the European Copyright Directive, Articles 11 and 13, are the right way to solve the problem, they are simply not, especially so when National and Supra-National Government has its own political and ideological agendas and inculcation's to answer to.

To be VERY clear about this, the writings about the Copyright Directive here on KatsBits are NOT in support of the these types of poorly realised legislative solutions to this particular problem.



Footnotes:
[1] The full article text of the article is included below for convenience to the topic of discussion (archive);

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For those of you, who don’t know nor care about what the Copyright Directive is nor any of the articles within it, look away now.

Take this test: Type in 'EU Copyright directive' into the search box in Youtube. The majority of results in the top 20 will be passionately against it. Here’s some of the headlines, if you’re not sure: 'Shocking update on the Copyright Directive.' 'Today Europe lost the Internet' 'How the new copyright laws will destroy the internet’ 'Censorship machines', 'EU to end the internet' or 'Europe to ban all memes'.

Of course, we know from recent elections and referendums that simple memorable slogans - however untrue or unobtainable - can go a long way to winning over hearts, minds and voters. And so it was, that the wholly inaccurate phrases 'link taxes' and 'censorship machines' started to be part of the campaign against the proposed Copyright Directive. Never let the truth get in the way of a catchy slogan.

The idea behind the Directive is to bring copyright rules into the 21st century. The current rules are very analogue and designed for the world before the web. Things have changed. Search and social media platforms largely define the way we enjoy content today, but their market dominance has now tilted the balance in their favour and away from those who design and create original things.

As it stands, big internet platforms such as Facebook or Google make a lot of money from ads that appear on their sites alongside copyrighted material such as music or clips. The more people view, the more money platforms can earn from those adverts.

Just as Google and Facebook are being rewarded financially for all their hard work in producing amazing software, clever algorithms and exciting designs, we think authors, film-makers, journalists and musicians should also be rewarded for their endeavours too. At the moment the balance of power in who gets paid for such royalties resides overwhelmingly with the big Californian companies - who are worth around $1 Trillion.

The Copyright Directive is an attempt to create a level playing field where everyone can gain from the amazing options that the new technologies offer. Musicians, artists, video producers and the whole creative sector will benefit by having a fairer negotiating position.

Journalists and online publications will have more money to keep on financing quality research and news. Despite what you might read, the Copyright directive supports a free press and could enable journalists to get some money when their articles are shared online. Good journalism costs money and without a free press there is no democracy.

Fair remuneration for and from the platforms and a fairer market place is what we want. We cannot achieve a real European digital single market which makes us all better off, if copyrighted material is misused or poorly remunerated. Because if creative people don't get paid, they can't afford to be creative. No Mon = No Fun.

Just like everyone else, the EU loves culture, cinema, art and music. We have no intention in restricting young people's access to all these wonderful things on - or offline. Oh and by the way, no matter what some people (and paid-for campaigns) may tell you, you will never be prevented from having a laugh online. WE ARE NOT BANNING MEMES. On the contrary, there will be a guarantee that platforms respect your right to self-expression. That includes pastiche, critique and parody.

Nonetheless, it appears as if the largest search and video platforms in the world are afraid of regulation -  despite having overwhelming dominance on the internet.

Furthermore, there is ample evidence from respected sources, here and here and perhaps here or here or indeed here that 'Big Technology' has even 'created' grassroots campaigns against the Copyright Directive in order to make it look and sound as if the EU is acting against the 'will of the people'.

That's another myth. Unlike Google and Facebook, the EU is answerable to the public and to democratically elected politicians. Member states - through the Digital Single market - aim to make it easier and cheaper for European consumers and companies to surf, trade, study and work digitally in the EU.

As with most EU legislation, the text must be agreed by a majority of member states and voted upon by MEPs in the European Parliament.

So next time, when you get a sponsored message on your timeline, which says something like 'the EU will kill the world wide web as we know it', stop, pause and consider for a moment. Ask yourself: Cui Bono? Who really benefits from this message or this wider negative campaign?

Do Google, Facebook or others really need to pay to persuade?

Are we in a world where ordinary people side with the fire breathing dragon against the knight with a blue and yellow shield?

If you care, think before you share.

For fewer myths and more facts, why not click here or here or perhaps here or even here.
[2] By the numbers;
- European Population = c.750 million.
- Facebook = c.2.25 billion/c.1.5 billion daily.
- Instagram = c.1 billion monthly, c.500 million daily users.
- Android = c.1.5 billion devices (2017), c.2 billion users.
- Google = c.1 billion daily active users (estimate).
- Apple = c.1.3 billion active devices, c. 500 million users.

eBusiness Number Registry (European Business Registry) scam

March 12, 2019, 09:35:14 AM by kat
SCAM WARNING: the decades long history of the eBusiness Number Registry scam (alias "European Business Registry") shows just how incredibly difficult it is to deal with persistent fraud, even when those involved are discovered, sued or prosecuted (EU Parliament petition), they often simply uproot and plant elsewhere, Eastern Europe being a favorite location due to lax enforcement and policing of fraud.

Long story short, the scam works because there is a genuine European Business Registry that essentially does what the scammers claim to do, act as a centralised database of European businesses, the difference between the two being the connections the real EBR has to the European Parliament (it essentially functions largely under EU remit) - the fraudulent European Business Registry/eBusiness Number Registry obfuscates these facts, taking advantage of possible confusion to scam the unwitting in paying three or four-figure sums for services that do not exist, and are never provided. Such an issue is this the actual European Business Registry issued notice on the topic  (assuming recipient is aware of the aforementioned official Bodies - the European Parliament Data Protection Registry, another legitimate European organisational entity scammers use to further add to the confusion).

The fraudulent eBusiness Number Registry and European Business Registry service (ebusinessnumber.com) is little more than a sparsely populated, publicly accessible website that appears to be based in Germany, the service being paid for is money for old rope in other words. A cursory read of their poorly worded boilerplate Terms of Service should be all that's needed to expose the nature of the scam.

With that said, the same poorly written ToS includes a peculiarly specific clause that should cause for great concern as it allows a third-party to be assigned control over accounts and administration therein. This clause is present for the sole purpose of providing a contractual and binding agreement between parties, permission, for unknown entity or third-party to billing additional fees and sums for services not directly related to 'advertising' or 'promoting' the registry or website, but the administration of the accounts themselves, costs intentionally hidden from contractees.

The following quote is from the image shown below, which is largely replicated on the website (eBusinessNumber.com). It is almost entire a demand of payment, mentioning NOTHING about the services that are being purchased other than the insertion into and online directory.

Quote
VALIDATING THE PRESENT DOCUMENT REPRESENTS THE FULL ACCEPTANCE OF THE CLAUSES LISTED IN THE T&C FOR INSERTION ON THE WEBPAGE eBusinessNumber.com SIGNING/STAMPING IS BINDING YOU LEGALLY AND ENFORCES INSERTION OF YOUR COMPANY'S PROFILE IN THE ONLINE DIRECTORY WHICH CAN BE ACCESSED 24/7. VALIDATION TIME OF THE PAYABLE SERVICE REQUEST IS THREE YEARS AND IS ENFORCED ON THE TENTH DAY AFTER THE VALIDATION DATE. THE ENLIST PROCESS IS INITIATED AFTER THE SERVICE PROVIDER RECEIVES THE DOCUMENT. THE SIGNATORY OF THIS DOCUMENT HEREBY ORDERS THE INSERTION OF THE COMPANY'S PROFILE WITH SERVICE PROVIDER eBusinessNumber.com ONLINE DIRECTORY eBusinessNumber.com THE SIGNATORY WILL HAVE THE COMPANY'S DETAILS INSERTED IN THE DIRECTORY FOR A MINIMUM PERIOD OF THREE YEARS. THE ANNUAL CHARGE FOR INSERTION IS EUR 899,-; THE AMOUNT IS INVOICED AS PER THE SCHEDULE DETAILED IN THE CLAUSES OF THE ORDER.THE CANCELLATION OPTIONS OF THIS REQUEST WILL BE MADE ACCORDING TO THE CLAUSES WHICH GOVERN THE ORDER. ALL DATA WILL BE RECORDED FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY. PLACE OF JURISDICTION TO SOLVE EVENTUAL DISPUTES IS THE SERVICE PROVIDER'S ADDRESS.


Typical email received
Quote
Hello,

please complete and submit the attached document to have your company (re)included in the registry for the 2019/2020 edition.

THE eBUSINESS NUMBER REGISTRY
Willi Sänger-Straße 16
12437 BERLIN
DEUTSCHLAND

Alternatively, send us a scanned copy of the completed document by replying to this email.

Updating is free of charge.

Best wishes,
eBusiness Number Registry

Article 13, YouTube (BigTech) & #SaveYourInternet astroturfing

December 04, 2018, 11:35:04 AM by kat

TL:DR, BigTech is concerned with their users only so far as doing so protects their own interests - they have absolutely no qualms blocking content access to entire regions of the globe, never mind a few individuals. In light of this the push back against Article 11 and 13 is not so much about "protecting users digital rights" or their access to content, as it is YouTube, Facebook, Twitter et al not wanting to be more accountable for the commercial exploitation of others content. Push back against Article 11 and Article 13 is about protecting company valuations, stock prices and profit margins, not doing right by creators/rights holders.

• • •

The truth about Article 11, Article 13 and why the tech giants are fighting hard with appeals to emotion, fear, scare tactics and sensationalism.

What is it about Article 13 that scares the tech giants to death?

Two things; 1) remuneration - they don't want to 'fairly' compensate content creators for the commercial exploitation of their content, and 2) liability - they don't want to be responsible for content and/or police it despite having advanced algorithms in place actively doing this for their own reasons.

This makes much of the push back against Article 11 & 13 little to do protecting users access to the Internet, or being able to watch Despacito on looped playback, and instead more about corporations not wanting their profits, stock and valuations to drop in response to having to pay out a few quid here and there and/or/both loosening their tight grip on content access[1], so they astroturf the conversation with faux grassroots campaigns likes #SaveYourInternet replete with scare stories and sensationalism as though they really, truly care... they don't.

Taking a look at the numbers the most popular content viewed on YouTube is music. As a category it rakes in billions of views, daily, much of which is monetised - adverts displayed alongside, before, in, after videos or somewhere, anywhere on the page, all equating to billions of adverts purchased to place (pay to play).

Some of this revenue does reach Partners[2]; YouTube has paid, to licensed music 'partners', approximately $2 billion in the last few years (c.$400 million per annum, over the last five years, money that goes to BigMusic, the bodies large enough to push their concerns to YouTube and those ostensibly responsible for ContentID (MPAA, RIAA et al).

For 'influencers', 'celebrities' and 'personalities' on the platform, earnings estimates range widely depending on the source from poverty-line levels (c.$12,000 in the USA) all the way up to the low millions annually. As a group however, total earnings do not appear to (at time of writing) exceed $100 million per fiscal year collectively.

Perhaps somewhat ironically, payouts are tax deductible so 'losses' can be offset against earnings to reduce liabilities to the IRS and other regional tax agencies, so the "would loose money" argument is only valid to a limited degree as the offset is more beneficial to the Corporation overall.

But that's just YouTube. For Google the number are much larger, whilst the former being estimated to have fiscal year earnings ranging between $8 billion and $12 billion for 2017, in contrast Google's revenues are estimated to be between $80 to $120 billion for 2018. Notwithstanding operational costs, pay outs to Partners and vloggers is tax deductible, the outlay reduces tax liabilities.

Throw into the mix capital worth of BigTech and the context changes, estimates (at time of writing) have YouTube at $150 billion, Google (Alphabet) $1 trillion. As for the other members of the BigTech collective; Microsoft $800 billion, Facebook $400 billion, Twitter $25 billion, Apple $850 billion, Twitch $20 billion, Yahoo $20 billion, and whilst the means through which that value is reached differs, many employ user generated content and its consumption as a primary, if not significant component of their earning strategies.

• • •

With all that said, the problem with all this is the complications presented by the legal relationship creators, users and platform holder have with one another. Creators and platform holders in particular have an agreement that allows for the commercial exploitation of the content uploaded through the "non-exclusive, royalty free" license that's granted at upload or necessary to be signed prior to be given access to the tools to publish content. Article 11 and Article 13 would likely change this, although how is not exactly clear, at the very least it might mean changes to user agreements and contracts, creators potentially having greater leverage over platforms carte-blanche ability to monetise their material without fairly compensating authors/rights holders - the removal of 'qualifications' for receipt of compensation a la YouTube.

It should noted, if clarification is needed, the above is not specifically an argument for Article 11 or Article 13, rather a discussion of the deeper issues the legislation is responding to and rationale behind it; BigTech is not shy of blocking or restricting access to content for any reason, this is how Content ID works with partners providing criteria for filtering, blocking and remuneration of Partners on YouTube, or the reasons 'fake news' can be blocked on Facebook. Neither Article 11 or Article 13 require BigTech do something they are not already doing if perhaps only for [sarc]ever-so-slightly[/sarc] self-motivated reasons.

Aside from having to cough up cash and compensate creators, perhaps YouTube, Google, Twitch, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al are balking at the Articles because they might require they be more transparent and accountable for their actions, it creates a digital paper trail that, under EU law (GDPR), can be accessed by users, and required to be deleted if so requested, when Users data, who they are, what they do, access and watch is the product, anything that affects that will likely be detrimental to BigTechs control over the Internet and rebuffed even if it means doing what they already do more passive-aggressively.

Further Reading
- Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive
- Article 11 of the EU Copyright Directive (link tax)
- Article 13 draft proposed amendments (Sept 2018)
- EU Directive on Copyright - Article 11 (link tax) & Article 13 (content filter)
- Voluntary Copyright Alert Program (Vcap)
- Its a Terms of Service violation, not Copyright dispute



Footnotes:
[1] So much so that to this end, content control, the "compromise" YouTube suggests essentially extends Content ID, it grants YouTube greater ability, that might then have force of law behind it, to police content and access how they see fit.

Quote
Is there a better way forward with Article 13?
Yes! We're asking lawmakers to find a better balance we all need to protect against copyright violations and still enable European users, creators and artists to share their voices online. In order to do that, we need a system where both platforms and rightsholders collaborate.

What this means in reality is three things:
- Rightsholders should work with platforms to identify the content they own, so the platforms know what is protected under copyright and can give rightsholders control to block if they choose.
- Platforms should only be held liable for content identified to them using tools like Content ID or through notice and takedown.
- Platforms and rightsholders should negotiate in good faith where licenses and rights can be easily identified
Or by way of another very recent example, Article 19.17 of the USCMA Trade Agreement (signed into law late Nov 2018) that grants platform holder liability exemptions, in law, from users actions - "No Party (Government or Agency thereof) shall impose liability on a supplier or user of an interactive computer service on account of:... voluntary action... technical action". This can be leveraged as legal grant for banning users and blocking content access as providers see fit (although the context for the USMCA is cross-border trade - United States, Mexico, Canada - the legislative authority the clause grants service providers with respect to immunity is very real).

[2] All figures are speculative estimates as very little actual data is available for scrutiny.

[Action Required] Important 2018 Tax Information | Unity

December 04, 2018, 05:09:12 AM by kat
Unity Asset Store account holders should be aware of a 'tax interview' message doing the rounds that might at first appear to be a scam. According to a couple (Unity) of sources (HumbleBundle) the email, from publisher_inquiry@unity3d.com but routing through to unity3d.taxidentity.com/Interview/AX8/en/start_1.aspx when the included link is clicked, is a legitimate request from Unity for tax information using Tax Identity as a third-party data collection partner. The message appear to be sent to selected Unity Asset Store account holders regardless of there being any products available for purchase (email may not therefore, be received by all publishers).

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Hello Unity Publisher,

Thank you for taking the time to read this message.

We are required by US law to obtain documentation prior to making certain payments, including payments to a foreign entity or individual. We have developed an user-friendly online tax interview that will help guide you to provide us with your tax information.

Please access the tax interview using the link below and complete the tax interview by December 31, 2018. Please note that, as per the Asset Store Provider Agreement, any and all future payments may be suspended if we do not receive your correct tax information by this date.

To help protect the security of your taxpayer information, please do not respond to this e-mail with your tax information or share it over the phone.

Please take the tax interview by clicking here [links to taxidentity.com].

In order to help us match the tax interview with your account, we ask that you enter your publisher ID shown below to the Publisher ID field within the tax interview. This field is found within the Profile page below the Email field. Please be sure to enter the publisher ID shown below. You will be asked to complete the tax interview again if you fail to enter the publisher ID correctly.

Your Publisher ID: [publisher ID]

This tax interview must be completed by the legal owner of the account. Please note that Unity uses Tax Identity Solutions LLC, a third-party tax provider, to receive and validate this additional documentation.

We have provided a tax interview FAQ that may provide answers to some of the questions you might have concerning this request for information and documents. If you have any further questions, please send your questions to publisher_inquiry@unity3d.com, an email alias set up only for questions on this topic.

Important Notice: None of the information in this document, nor any of the information resulting from your participation in the tax interview, constitutes or may be understood to constitute, any advice of any kind (whether legal, tax, or otherwise)s to you, your business, or your or your business’ tax structure or obligations, and you may not rely on it as such. Should you have any questions or concerns with respect to any of these matters, please contact your tax, legal, or other professional advisor.

Thank you for your assistance.

Team Unity

(jpg image example)

The message appears to be notification/in response to Unity changing the way payouts are to be processed by a US entity rather than one based in the EU. As a result Tax Declarations are required (message from Unity should be available in the Publisher Dashboard).

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Hi [publisher],

This notification is to inform you of a change in Unity’s business operations. Effective January 1, 2019, we will move our ads selling entity from Finland to the U.S.

This is an internal change to streamline our business by having our contract signing entity reflect the currency (USD) in which we transact with publishers. The only change to your existing operations is that you will be paid by a U.S. entity moving forward. There may be tax implications of this change, as any taxes owed on earned revenue from Unity may be subject to U.S. regulation from 2019 onward. If you have any further questions on the tax implications of this change for your business, please consult with your tax advisor.

No action is required from you to continue operating your campaigns as you do today. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at unityads-support@unity3d.comany time.

Thank you,

The Unity team
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