Roundup: Twitter and Google, Chris Smith comeback, AI copyright


Media bid, Spotify, NPR cuts, The Australian, the New York Times, Lauren Phillips

Business of Media

Media bid to identify well-known Australian rape accused

A coalition of media organisations has launched a legal bid to identify a well-known Australian charged with rape in Queensland, reports The Australian’s Lydia Lynch.

The man, who is the subject of national attention, can’t be named because of a soon-to-be scrapped Queensland law that protects the identity of people charged with ­serious sexual offences until they are committed to stand trial.

Australia’s biggest media organisations – including News Corp, Nine Entertainment, the ABC and Network 10 – applied to a Queensland court on Wednesday for permission to name the man accused of attacking a young woman in Toowoomba on Oct­ober 10, 2021.

In a submission to magistrate Kay Philipson, barrister Jessica Goldie argued that “considering the national interest in this ­matter, the applicants submit there is good and sufficient ­reason for the defendant’s identity to be ­revealed now”.

Goldie submitted that the case was “unique” and it was highly unlikely the two rape ­charges against the man would be dropped before evidence was tested at a committal hearing.

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Australia tells Twitter, Google to give information on handling online child abuse

An Australian regulator has sent legal letters to Twitter and Google telling them to hand over information about their efforts to stop online child abuse, drawing them into a crackdown that has already put pressure on other global tech firms, reports Reuters’ Byron Kaye.

The action by the country’s e-safety commissioner keeps a spotlight on the anti-exploitation practices at Twitter under the ownership of billionaire Elon Musk, who called child protection his top priority while also laying off more than half its employees since taking over last October.

“With Elon Musk declaring child sexual abuse a top priority, this is an opportunity for him to explain what he is indeed doing,” e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant told Reuters in an interview, referring to several of Musk’s tweets.

She said it was in Twitter’s interests to show that it was acting effectively to eradicate child sexual abuse material, otherwise advertisers could turn away from the company.

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Spotify’s top creator partnerships executive to depart in May

Max Cutler — the executive who oversees Spotify’s exclusive deals with top creators like Joe Rogan, Call Her Daddy‘s Alex Cooper and Emma Chamberlain — will leave the company in May, a Spotify spokesperson confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter’s J. Clara Chan.

Cutler’s exit comes shortly after Spotify announced a reorganization on Jan. 23 that led to the departure of Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content and ad business officer, and the promotions of Alex Norström and Gustav Söderström to the co-president positions.

With Cutler’s pending departure, Julie McNamara will now take over leadership of Spotify’s exclusive licensing deals with creators like Rogan, Cooper and Chamberlain in addition to continuing to lead original content and major studio partnerships. Bryan Thoensen, who joined Spotify late last year from TikTok and initially reported up to Cutler, will oversee content partnerships with third-party creators. And Bill Simmons, who was promoted last May to lead Spotify’s sports content and strategy outside of the U.S., will be responsible for podcast monetization across Spotify’s portfolio of content. He will continue to lead The Ringer.

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AI-created images lose U.S. copyrights in test for new technology

Images in a graphic novel that were created using the artificial-intelligence system Midjourney should not have been granted copyright protection, the U.S. Copyright Office said in a letter seen by Reuters’ Blake Brittain.

Zarya of the Dawn author Kristina Kashtanova is entitled to a copyright for the parts of the book she wrote and arranged, but not for images she made using Midjourney, the office said in its letter, dated Tuesday.

The decision is one of the first by a U.S. court or agency on the scope of copyright protection for works created with AI, and comes amid the meteoric rise of generative AI software like Midjourney, Dall-E and ChatGPT.

See Also: The nuts and bolts: What is ChatGPT and will it take our jobs?

The Copyright Office said in its letter that it would reissue its registration for Zarya of the Dawn to omit images that “are not the product of human authorship.”

Midjourney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Copyright Office had no comment on the decision.

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News Brands

NPR to cut 10% of its staff

NPR will lay off 10 percent of its staff to make up for a $30 million gap in its budget, the company’s chief executive said on Wednesday, reports The New York Times’ Katie Robertson.

In an email to the staff, John Lansing, the news organization’s chief executive, said the public radio network’s financial outlook “has darkened considerably over recent weeks.”

“At a time when we are doing some of our most ambitious and essential work, the global economy remains uncertain,” Lansing wrote in the email, which was obtained by The New York Times. “As a result, the ad industry has weakened and we are grappling with a sharp decline in our revenues from corporate sponsors.”

Lansing said the budget shortfall this year, once estimated to be $20 million, had grown to at least $30 million. He said NPR, a nonprofit with a work force of about 1,100 people, had already cut $14 million in expenses through eliminating open positions, restricting nonessential travel and suspending internship programs. But those moves, he said, are no longer enough to prevent job cuts.

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The Australian’s political young guns win prestigious gongs

The Australian’s political reporters Max Maddison and Jess Malcolm have been recognised by the National Press Club of Australia with prestigious journalism awards, reports The Australian’s James Madden.

Maddison, who worked in the Canberra Press Gallery in 2021-22, was named winner of the annual Wallace Brown Award for the best and fairest early career parliamentary journalist.

Prime Minister ­Anthony Albanese presented Maddison — who is currently NSW Political Correspondent for The Australian — with the award at the National Press Club on Wednesday.

Malcolm, who completed her cadetship in The Australian’s Sydney office in 2021 before moving to Canberra to cover federal politics last year, was “highly commended” in the same ­category.

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Dozens of New York Times journalists hit staff union for its defense of trans coverage criticism

A group of high-profile New York Times journalists on Tuesday privately fired back against NewsGuild of New York president Susan DeCarava, over a letter that she’d written affirming journalists’ right to criticize the paper in order to address workplace conditions, a response that came amid a dispute over the Times’ coverage of transgender issues, reports Vanity Fair’s Charlotte Klein.

“Factual, accurate journalism that is written, edited, and published in accordance with Times standards does not create a hostile workplace,” reads the letter, which was organized by reporter Jeremy Peters and, in the past 24 hours, collected dozens of signatures. Among them are Peter Baker, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, Michael Grynbaum, Apoorva Mandavilli, Lisa Lerer, Jim Rutenberg, Mike McIntire, and Kate Zernike.

“Your letter appears to suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of our responsibilities as journalists. Regretfully, our own union leadership now seems determined to undermine the ethical and professional protections that we depend on to guard the independence and integrity of our journalism,” the letter says.

In a response to Tuesday’s letter from dozens of Times journalists, the Guild said in statement to Vanity Fair, “The Guild is committed to representing every member equally and fairly, regardless of reporting assignment. We take no position on the subject matter of editorial coverage and fight hard for every member’s right to work in a healthy and safe environment, free of harassment and discrimination. These are principles that are at the core of trade unionism and are central to our mission.”

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Chris Smith announces comeback on internet talkback radio station TNT

Broadcaster Chris Smith has found new work as a presenter with online talkback station TNT Radio two months after he lost his gigs with Sky News Australia and 2GB in the wake of allegations of inappropriate behaviour, report News Corp’s James Morrow and Jonathon Moran.

Smith made the announcement on social media Wednesday afternoon, saying, “a new job, a new start, a whole new opportunity.”

He will host the 3pm to 5pm shift from Monday to Friday, starting next week.

“It is not just a new job,” Smith told The Daily Telegraph.

“I have delved deeper than ever before on why I self sabotage with the help of rehab, psychiatrists and psychologists, plus I have given up the grog completely.”

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Lauren Phillips blasts scammers using her name to trick Aussies into handing over cash

Lauren Phillips has hit out at scammers pretending to be her on social media offering cash prizes, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

The KIIS FM breakfast host has urged people not to fall for the legitimate and enticing looking offers.

“It’s alarming how realistic these scams have become, and I feel terrible for anyone that’s been caught up in it,’’ Phillips said.

“I’m doing everything I can to have the fake pages deleted. Please be aware that it is a scam and myself or our shows would never ask listeners for their bank details or credit card information.”

There are Facebook ads splashed with details about a $5m free money frenzy and others have included a golden ticket.

They read: “To promote and introduce our new sponsor, we collaborated with our sponsors to do a random search from 2017-2023 to choose some lucky people to get.”

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