TIME Music

Tyler, the Creator Says He’s Banned From Entering the U.K.

Tyler, The Creator performs live on Day Three of the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival on Aug. 2, 2015 in Montreal.
Emma McIntyre—Getty Images Tyler, the Creator performs live on Day Three of the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival on Aug. 2, 2015, in Montreal

He canceled four performances on Monday

Rapper Tyler, the Creator says he’s been banned from entering the U.K. because of lyrics from his 2009 album, Bastard.

The rapper, born Tyler Gregory Okonma, canceled four performances in the country on Monday, cryptically blaming it at the time on “circumstances” that were “beyond my control.”

Okonma has been criticized for the violent, often homophobic nature of his music, with one writer accusing the artist of “rape and murder fantasies graphic enough to send the vomit rising along with the bile.”

Okonma’s manager, Christian Clancy, posted a statement on his Tumblr, saying the British Home Department had sent a letter banning his client for three to five years based on work that “encourages violence and intolerance of homosexuality.” Clancy accused the British government of censorship and inconsistency, pointing out that Okonma had visited the country several times over the past few years.

Earlier this summer, Okonma tweeted about being banned from Australia, but it turned out a feminist-advocacy group, Collective Shout, had campaigned to keep him out of the country, and that the rapper and his touring company canceled the Australian stop. Australia’s Immigration Department confirmed at the time that his visa application was being examined but said that no final decision had been made.

On Wednesday, Okonma tweeted his confusion about the situation.

TIME russia

Russia Reverses Ban on Russian Wikipedia After Only a Few Hours

The entry on hashish contained banned information

Russia’s ban on Russian-language Wikipedia lasted only a few hours, ending on Tuesday.

A Russian communications watchdog agency told Internet providers to block access to the popular site’s Russian language material on Monday, after a provincial court ruled Wikipedia’s entry on hashish contained banned information, the Associated Press reports. Recent legislation in Russia has banned sites from carrying information about drugs, suicide and hate, leading critics to accuse authorities of censorship.

The communications agency lifted the ban on Russian language Wikipedia after saying the entry had been edited to comply with the court decision. But users noted that the entry for hashish had only adjusted its title.

TIME movies

Sony Tweaked Adam Sandler Movie Pixels to Avoid Embarrassing China

Executives made changes to assure a good reception, according to leaked emails

Sony altered a scene in its newly released film Pixels in order to avoid running afoul of censors in China, now the second-largest film market after the United States.

Reuters reports, citing emails leaked by Sony hackers, that a scene in the original Pixels script featuring aliens shooting a hole in the Great Wall of China was scrapped because it would “not benefit the China release at all,” according to a Sony executive.

Other changes included removing a mention of China as the potential perpetrator of an attack during the movie and a reference to a cyberattack by a “Communist-conspiracy brother.”

Emails sent in 2013 also showed that a Sony executive wanted to alter the plot of the studio’s action film RoboCop by locating a weapon company in the movie in Southeast Asia rather than China. That change didn’t make it into the final cut of the film.

Movie censorship guidelines in China ban content that disparages the government, endangers national unity or harms public morale. Studios in the past have been known to change their movies specifically to appeal to Chinese audiences. Marvel, for instance, lengthened a scene in Iron Man 3 featuring a Chinese doctor specifically for the Chinese release.

In a statement to Reuters, Sony said that creating content that has wide global appeal but doesn’t compromise creative integrity is a top priority as it develops films.

[Reuters]

 

TIME Spain

Spain’s New Security Law Meets Fierce Criticism From Rights Groups

Demonstrators with their mouths taped sit outside the Spanish parliament during a protest against Spanish government's new security law in central Madrid
Juan Medina—Reuters Demonstrators with their mouths taped sit outside the Spanish parliament during a protest against the government's new security law in central Madrid, Spain, early July 1, 2015

The new law prohibits everything from insulting a police officer to protesting outside the country's legislature

A new law that went into effect in Spain on July 1 has much of the country, as well as many human rights organizations, in an uproar. While proponents say the new public security law will reinforce civil liberties, opponents call it the “gag law,” saying it will do just the opposite and take the country a step backward toward dictatorship.

The law covers everything from internet surfing to drug trafficking, but opponents point specifically to portions targeting illegal downloading, habitual access of websites that allegedly promote terrorism, and violent protest, as problematic, saying they include too-loose language that could be abused for political purposes and will limit freedom of speech or even prevent reports of police brutality.

Under the law, citizens can be fined the equivalent of almost $700 for insulting an officer, over $33,000 for recording and disseminating images of police officers, and more than $664,000 for participating in an unauthorized protest outside government buildings, the New York Times reports.

El Pais adds that the law puts an “expiry date” on passive protest, by “granting the police the power to fine anyone who refuses to dissolve meetings and protests in public places.”

Judith Sunderland of Human Rights Watch told the Times the law presents “a direct threat to the rights to meet peacefully and freedom of speech in Spain.” But Ministers of the Interior and of Justice Jorge Fernández Díaz and Rafael Catalá told El Pais the new laws do not limit citizens’ rights and in fact are meant to reinforce them. Prohibitions on protest outside parliament will make sure “there isn’t excessive pressure on the legislative powers,” they explained.

Spaniards reacted fittingly—by staging a protest in front of parliament. Some held signs that referenced the country’s past, still a sensitive topic 40 years after dictator Francisco Franco’s death. “Fascism wants to gag the people,” one sign read. Other protesters simply sat in silence, their mouths covered in gags or tape.

TIME Instagram

Instagram Users in North Korea Report App Blocked

Pictures appear on the smartphone photo
Thomas Coex—AFP/Getty Images Pictures appear on the smartphone photo sharing application Instagram on April 10, 2012 in Paris.

Instagram users in North Korea have received a "blacklist" warning

Looks like North Korea has blacklisted photo-sharing social network Instagram and is denying access to it from devices in the country.

When users open the app from mobile phones on the North Korean carrier Koryolink, a warning in both English and Korean appears, The Associated Press reported on Monday. “Warning! You can’t connect to this website because it’s in blacklist site [sic],” says the English version. The Korean warning also says that the site contains harmful content.

Similar warnings also appear when accessing Instagram on computers using LAN cables on the North Korean Internet provider. Instagram still worked on some mobile phones, but not all.

The origin of the warning is still unclear. Koryolink customer support employees told The Associated Press that they weren’t aware of any policy changes regarding Instagram and there has been no notice from the government regarding the service. The block could be related to a June 11 fire at a Pyongyang hotel, often used by tourists and foreign visitors, that North Korea’s state-run media has yet to officially report on, despite photos of it leaking on the Internet.

While North Korea is still not allowing its citizens to access the Internet, with a few exceptions, it did decide in 2013 to allow foreign visitors to access 3G Internet through their mobile phones, which requires a local SIM card from Koryolink.

Other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are still working fine.

TIME movies

Russia Bans Hollywood Thriller For Depicting It as a Nation of ‘Defective Sub-Humans’

In this image released by Lionsgate, Tom Hardy appears in a scene from the film, "Child 44."
Larry Horricks—AP In this image released by Lionsgate, Tom Hardy appears in a scene from the film, "Child 44."

Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman fail to impress officials in Moscow

The Russian Ministry of Culture canceled the local premiere of the Child 44 on Wednesday, saying the movie portrayed Russia as “a sort of Mordor, populated by physically and morally defective sub-humans.”

Produced by Lionsgate, Child 44 stars Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman and depicts a Soviet officer (Hardy) as he investigates a series of gruesome child murders in 1953, according to the Associated Press.

The distribution company, Central Partnership, supported the decision and in a statement accused the film of misrepresenting facts that “took place before, during and after the Second World War” and of making a false “portrayal of Soviet people living at that time.”

The decision raised concerns that film distributors will begin to self-censor to avoid having a movie premiere cancelled.

“It’s clear that now, if [a film] is about history, it has to correspond to some system of coordinates,” film distributor Alexander Rodnyansky told Russian media translated by the Wall Street Journal. “Now the self-censorship will begin: Many people will start being afraid to buy and distribute films here.”

Child 44 will be released in the United States on April 17.

TIME India

India Strikes Down Controversial Law Banning ‘Offensive’ Online Content

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Ramesh Lalwani—Getty Images/Moment Open Supreme Court of India

The law, often called draconian, made online content deemed "grossly offensive" punishable by a jail term of up to three years

In a landmark ruling, India’s apex court struck down a law that allowed the government to jail citizens for up to three years for posting “offensive” content on the Internet.

The contentious law, known as section 66A under the 2009 amendment to India’s Information Technology Act, was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

“Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 is struck down in its entirety being violative of Article 19 (1) (a) and not saved under Article 19 (2),” the court said in its judgment, referring to the portion of the Indian constitution that guarantees every citizen the right to free speech and expression.

The court’s decision, in response to a 2012 petition from law student Shreya Singhal, caps a three-year long legal battle and was met with jubilation among proponents of free speech.

“The Internet is so far-reaching and so many people use it that it is very important for us to protect this right today, now,” Singhal told AFP on Tuesday after describing the ruling as a “big victory.”

Successive governments in India have grappled with issues of online censorship and free speech, and Singhal’s petition came after a slew of arrests related to 66A in 2012 — including two young women who criticized the shutdown of India’s financial capital Mumbai over the death of a local politician. Earlier, the New York Times had reported that then telecommunications minister Kapil Sibal had asked websites like Facebook, Google and Yahoo to screen objectionable content and prevent it from being published.

The new government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had its fair share of censorship battles, including a recent ban on a controversial British documentary about the infamous 2012 New Delhi rape case. The government also justified section 66A in February, calling greater Internet regulation necessary even after admitting the law was “draconian.”

However, the Supreme Court judges said that “assurances of the government that it will not be misused” was not enough to justify the law, which uses terms like “grossly offensive” and “causing annoyance, inconvenience … enmity, hatred or ill will,” that they deemed too vague and easy to be misconstrued.

The court upheld section 69A of the act, however, which allows the government to block online content, and section 79(3) which makes intermediaries such as YouTube or Facebook liable for not complying with government demands for censorship of content.

TIME Behind the Photos

How a Chinese Organization is Helping Photographers Win Awards

Mask Boy Poyi winner
Liyang Yuan At a rental house in a village in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province on Dec. 5, 2014, nine-year-old boy Tan Zhouyu is too cold to fall asleep. This photo won first prize in the News Pictures Story category at Pictures of the Year.

Li Qiang, a veteran Chinese photojournalist, helps his country score the photo industry’s most prestigious awards

Ever since Shaoming Yang became the first Chinese photographer to win a World Press Photo award in 1988, his peers have tried to follow in his footsteps. They have done it so religiously that it has been dubbed the “Photo Olympics” in China.

Winning such awards means a lot: victors have their names announced and praised on China Central Television’s 7 o’clock news and are often awarded additional cash prizes by their state-owned newspapers for bringing good publicity.

During this year’s award season, photojournalist Liyang Yuan received first prize in News Pictures Story category at Pictures of the Year, an international photo award run by the Missouri School of Journalism. Chinese photographers also snatched six prizes at last week’s World Press Photo awards, an unprecedented tally.

Behind some of those winning images is a team called Yihe Media Training Workshop, an organization based in Beijing.

The workshop has helped more than 100 Chinese photographers enter top international photo competitions since its launch last December, founder Qiang Li tells TIME. Before submitting their work, Li and his partner Sunny Yang, a news assistant at USA Today’s Beijing bureau, help photographers select their best images, sometimes out of a pool of hundreds, crop them, write captions and enter them on most contests’ English-only websites. They also work with the Italy-based photo enhancement studio, 10b, for professional toning.

“Most Chinese photographers use online dictionaries to translate their captions,” Li says. “It’s a pity many good photos were [kicked out of contests] just because of their bad captions.”

Besides helping photographers enter competitions, for which the organization charges a small translation fee, Li says the workshops they offer, both online and on-site, also teach Chinese photographers about international photo trends. “The photography industry in China is still an isolated island,” says Li. “We don’t have professional photography museums, we don’t have professional photography foundations. Because of the language barrier, many excellent documentary photographers can’t make their voice heard in the world.”

A veteran photojournalist himself, Li is well aware of the pressure photographers are under in the country. “Almost all journalists in China have a low-base salary,” Li tells TIME. “They are like workers on the assembly lines who have a piece-rate system.”

Plus, since most Chinese photojournalists are employed at government-owned media organizations, where their jobs are more stable, few feel compelled to learn new skills. “The documentary and photojournalism industries in China are at a different stage of development to other countries with a more open media landscape,” says Panos photographer Adam Dean, who taught a workshop on photo editing and freelance photography at Yihe.

“There are so many talented and committed photographers in China who don’t really have an outlet for their work, [where] the state controls and censors much of the media,” says Dean, who is based in Beijing. “The problem for [Chinese photographers] is that there is an understandable element of self-censorship, [therefore] there is little motivation for them to invest time, energy and money in a sensitive story or issue that cannot be published in China and could potentially cause them problems.”

The Yihe Media Training Workshop also emphasizes international media practices and ethics in its lessons, with competing in international contests an integral part of the organization’s teachings. “I think there is a standard for a good photo that is beyond countries and ideologies,” Li says. “The affirmation of the works from the most authoritative organizations in the world could give [Chinese photographers] a reason to [stay] in the industry.”

Qiang Li is a photojournalist based in Beijing who has won many national photo awards in China.

Ye Ming is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

TIME China

Watch China’s Creepy Musical Tribute to Its Online Censors

All together now: "The Internet strengthens the country"

Is this a good song about the glory of online censorship? Or is this the greatest song ever about the glory of online censorship?

The ode, written by Wang Pingjiu, is a rousing choral tribute to the Chinese system of online surveillance and censorship known as the Great Firewall — and the government department behind it. In recent weeks, the wall has been rising as the ruling party cracks down on virtual private networks (VPNs) and online speech.

As well it should, the song suggests. Here is a translation courtesy of China Economic Review:

在这片天空日月忠诚的守望

The moon and stars guard us loyally

为日出东方使命担当

Undertaking the duty of the sun rising from the East

创新每个日子拥抱着清朗

Creativity, every day clean and fresh

像一束廉洁阳光感动在心上

Like a bundle of honest sunshine that moves the heart

团结万物生长的力量

The power of all things growing in unity

奉献地球村成为最美的风光

Dedication to the global village becomes the most beautiful scene

在这个世界百川忠诚寻归海洋

Every river in this world loyally seeks the sea

担当中华文明的丈量

Undertaking the measurement of Chinese civilization

五千年沉淀点亮创新思想

Five thousand years build up, illuminating creative thought

廉洁就是一个民族清澈荡漾

Honesty is the lifeblood of a people

我们团结在天地中央

We unite at the center of Heaven and Earth

信仰奉献流淌万里黄河长江

Faith and devotion flow immeasurable distance alongside the Yellow and Yangzi rivers

网络强国 网在哪中国界碑在哪

The Internet strengthens the country, wherever it goes there too stretch China’s borders

网络强国 从遥远的宇宙到思念的家

The Internet strengthens the country, from the distant universe to one’s longed-for home

网络强国 告诉世界中国梦在崛起大中华

The Internet strengthens the country, telling the world the Chinese dream is rising in Greater China

网络强国 一个我在世界代表着国家

The Internet strengthens the country, every one of us is representing our country for the world.

There are signs, however that the censors are perhaps a little embarrassed by the attention. As the video began circulating, links to it started going dead — because in China, even the songs about censorship are censored.

With reporting from Gu Yongqiang / Beijing

TIME India

India’s Censorship Board Bleeped Out ‘Bombay’ From a Music Video

The Mumbai central railway station, today named Chhatrapati
Thierry Falise—LightRocket/Getty Images The Mumbai central railway station, today named Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, is formerly known as Victoria Terminus

"I'm not calling it Constantinople or Atlantis or whatever"

Mihir Joshi, an Indian musician recording his first album last year, needed a word to rhyme with today in one of his songs and found one that he thought fit perfectly. But India’s Central Board of Film Certification disagreed, and replaced it with a beep when the music video debuted on TV over the weekend.

The word they had an issue with, much to Joshi’s surprise, was Bombay.

“I started laughing and I said, ‘What are you talking about?’” the 33-year-old singer told the New York Times.

Bombay is the former name of India’s financial capital of over 20 million people, but in 1995 it was changed to Mumbai on the demands of the right-wing party governing the city at the time. The party claimed Bombay was a symbol of British imperialism, and changed it to better represent local culture. Similar renaming initiatives were implemented in other Indian cities like Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), Chennai (formerly Madras) and Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore).

But old habits die hard, and many Mumbai citizens still refer to the city as Bombay. In fact, as the Wall Street Journal points out, there are several private and government institutions that have retained the colonial-era name.

“I have nothing against the word Mumbai,” Joshi added. “I’m not calling it Constantinople or Atlantis or whatever.”

The board’s decision prompted outrage from several Twitter users, whose choice of hashtag ironically made #Bombay the top trend in Mumbai on Monday.

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