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UK's Anti-File-Sharing Bill Could "Breach Human Rights" 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the once-more-unto-the-breach dept.
Grumbleduke writes "The UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights has recently reported on the controversial Digital Economy Bill, which seeks to restrict the connections of anyone accused of infringing copyright using the Internet. According to the BBC, the committee noted the lack of details in the Bill as it stands, asking for 'further information' from the government on several issues. They also raised concerns that some punishments under the bill could be 'applied in a disproportionate manner' and said that the powers the bill granted to the Secretary of State (i.e. Lord Mandelson) were 'overly broad.' These echo the concerns raised in recent months by the Open Rights Group, a consortium of web companies including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and eBay, as well as the UK's Pirate Party. The Bill is currently being scrutinized by the House of Lords, and if it passes there, will likely be forced through the Commons quickly, despite the opposition from the public, industry and members of parliament. The committee's full report can be found on the parliament website."
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UK's Anti-File-Sharing Bill Could "Breach Human Rights"

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  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Lawrence (1733598) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:05AM (#31045244) Homepage

    I can't believe governments are spending so much time and effort going after file sharing. The types of punishment being proposed are also completely out of proportion. Why not spend this much effort going after other widespread crimes such as rape and human trafficking? Also, shouldn't the government be spending a lot more time worrying about environmental damage and climate change? Our futures are at stake, yet the biggest problem seems to be people exchanging bits on the Internet.

    • by wjh31 (1372867) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:18AM (#31045330) Homepage
      those who share alot of files may be more likely to leave their computers on over-night or have a 'torrent box' that is left on all the time. Therefore by reducing the incidence of file sharing, infinitesimaly small reductions in energy consumption can be made. File sharing is also only one step away from human sharing, or human trafficking as you name it. These people must be stopped before the inevitable evolution to worse crimes.
    • by itsdapead (734413)

      I can't believe governments are spending so much time and effort going after file sharing.

      Don't worry, they still have time to spend £1.2M on an inquiry into expenses [bbc.co.uk] that has resulted in £1.1M being clawed back. (Instead of just fixing the gorram system and letting the police and taxmen deal with the handful of really dodgy cases).

      • by DaveGod (703167)
        Worth pointing out perhaps that of the £1.16m spent a significant amount will be clawed back through income taxes, and there's no detail there of how much of that cost is actually incremental rather than an allocation of central costs that were going to be spent anyway. The taxation point, by the by, is quite significant since one of the important points surrounding the excessive claims is that they were not being taxed, often at direct odds with the taxation rules governing you and I.
        • by itsdapead (734413)

          Worth pointing out perhaps that of the £1.16m spent a significant amount will be clawed back through income taxes,

          I suspect that the people involved have rather good accountants and won't pay a brass farthing more in tax than they have to.

          Meanwhile, remember that some of that "clawback" money had already been paid back voluntarily while some of it will never get repaid without incurring even more legal costs...

          and there's no detail there of how much of that cost is actually incremental rather than an allocation of central costs that were going to be spent anyway.

          Unless the staff in question were otherwise sitting around twiddling their thumbs on full salary (oh, and probably phoning lawyers and accountants from time to time for a billable-hours chat about football) that

      • by digitig (1056110)
        You do understand the difference between one-off costs and recurring costs, don't you? And you are aware that the police are bringing criminal charges against 4 members of parliament over their expenses, which seem to be as a result of this enquiry. But no doubt you work for a company that never audits its own employees expenses because the police and taxman will make sure all claims are legitimate and anyway, who knows whether such an audit would recover it's own costs?
        • by itsdapead (734413)

          You do understand the difference between one-off costs and recurring costs, don't you?

          Yes. Do you?

          Fixing the system for the future stops the recurring costs. Those reforms have already been announced. Trying to claw back money from the claims which with hindsight were unreasonable is a one-off cost which always carried a risk of costing more than it recovered.

          And you are aware that the police are bringing criminal charges against 4 members of parliament over their expenses which seem to be as a result of this enquiry.

          Actually, the police have been investigating these for months [bbc.co.uk]. Its actually more likely that the Legg inquiry was waiting on the criminal investigations so they could avoid reporting on the MPs facing charges (which could prejudice the

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or if they must tackle IT based crime how about identity fraud? They just don't give a crap about that becuase they'd actually have to get off their arses to do something about it. Much better to go after the copyright infringers!

      • Re:Priorities (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Lemming Mark (849014) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:48AM (#31045470) Homepage

        They have a "solution" to that, which is to use it as a stick to motivate ID card systems. The New Labour government mindset sadly seems to be "We could fix everything if only we had more power and fewer of these inconvenient checks and balances!". I don't expect the Tories to be better though; I think the Tories have said they'll scrap the ID cards but I'm betting that'll be a marketing exercise on some level. They might get delayed / repurposed / renamed but I can't see them going away once there's been money spent and momentum built up within the civil service (not to mention once electioneering is over).

        • Re:Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

          by digitig (1056110) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:20AM (#31045652)

          I don't expect the Tories to be better though

          I think that's a fair call. Every UK government in my lifetime -- and I'm no spring chicken -- has fought hard to increase it's own power, to limit the power of the population and to remove checks and balances on its actions. Irrespective of political party. This is something that I don't believe can be solved through the ballot box, because whoever wins the election will be handed enough power to be sure of corrupting them.

          • Every government in human (pre)history -- has fought hard to increase it's own power, to limit the power of the population and to remove checks and balances on its actions.

            • by Eternal Vigilance (573501) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @03:19PM (#31047256)
              Government increases its own power, without limit, until stopped by some other force. It's inherent in the word "govern" - which means to control. Government was, is, and always will be the control of the many by the few - that's what the word means.

              This will change only when we stop accepting that we and our fellow human beings need to be controlled - to be "govern"ed - by some external force, and we each consciously take on our individual responsibility to contribute to society and create a new form of social organization.

              The increasing power of government is exactly like the increasing pain of an untreated disease - its purpose is to do whatever is necessary to get the organism to wake up and respond. As long as the organism ignores the symptom, the only chance for healing is for the disease to increase the pain. The symptom is never the problem. Ignoring the symptom is the problem. The symptom is the call to heal.

              So from a holistic or systemic view we can see the increase in the power (and abuses) of government is actually humanity's way of trying to call attention to our real illness: the unresponsiveness, and most accurately the unconsciousness, of the rest of the body politic - i.e., each of us.

              Our only choice is whether we hear the call and respond.
              • by tsm_sf (545316)

                We're too weak as a species to successfully implement Anarchy as a form of governance.

                Sorry =(

              • by mdwh2 (535323)

                Okay, so we're in your society, and the big media organisations send round people with more arms than you to forcibly remove your Internet connection. What now?

              • This will change only when we stop accepting that we and our fellow human beings need to be controlled - to be "govern"ed - by some external force, and we each consciously take on our individual responsibility to contribute to society and create a new form of social organization.

                "Government" is not some abstract entity, it consists of your "fellow human beings" as well, and is backed by more of the same. When they label your hippie anarchist commune "traitors", what are you going to do?

          • by Xest (935314)

            "I think that's a fair call. Every UK government in my lifetime -- and I'm no spring chicken"

            Presumably every UK government in your lifetime has only been either Tory or Labour anyway?

            Really, this is why IMO the most fundamental election issue in the UK should be one that's barely spoken about- electoral reform.

            Until we move away from this stupid first past the post system where minority governments are still granted 100% of power we're doomed to follow the same pattern over and over precisely because of th

        • I wrote to my local MP, who happens to be George Osborne, the Tory shadow chancellor, twice protesting the Digital Economy bill that this article refers to. He didn't respond.
    • This government is going to be out of power in the next 3 months or so (which is when the next election must be held by), and Mandelson clearly wants to get this passed as law before the election.

      Unfortunately, there's no real evidence that the Conservatives will be any better.

    • Re:Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:31AM (#31045392) Homepage
      While I don't subscribe to this, I've often heard it claimed on Slashdot and other forums that since the West has given up its manufacturing base to the developing world, all its economy has left is creative works like Hollywood and the music industry. Countries like China and India can accept massive pirating because their economy has another basis, but if the West allows free distribution of media, then it undermines all that is keeping it afloat.
      • Yes, our economy is now based on massive consumption and yet we don't *make* anything anymore. Maybe that's actually the real problem.

        • I still do! Mind you, I make prototypes: I _expect_ the foreign factories to find ways to cut costs and streamline the manufacture.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dogeatery (1305399)

        This is truer of the US than the UK. The only thing the US exports is intellectual property and military equipment - IT stuff and media products like films and music.

        (Chalmers Johnson calls the military a makework program with a giant foothold in places where manufacturing jobs disappeared and local reps have no choice but to give their constituents a Lockheed plant. )

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No It's the same here in the UK, we sell military equipement, corruptly (BAE), and have the uncanny ability to make TV shows that cost buttons to make yet make huge profits (American Idol).

          We also make erm.....

        • Are you sure? The CIA world factbook lists the US as having the 4th largest export in US. dollars in the world - counting the EU.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by damburger (981828)
          The UK economy is dominated by the financial sector - which sells 'products' with a similarly shaky value as the so-called 'creative' industry.
      • by Krneki (1192201)
        By limiting the freedom of expression you limit creativity. Sure some corporations are losing some money to free distribution, but it is their problem to solve, it's the natural evolution of business, adapt or die. As for other countries evolving, the more advanced they are the bigger market and demand they create.
      • Re:Priorities (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:49AM (#31045826) Homepage

        Actually China and India are good examples of how the artists can still make plenty of money and even benefit from piracy.

        The average Chinese or Indian citizen cannot afford to pay the prices we do for a CD. Only pirates can manufacture the discs cheaply enough to sell them at an affordable price and still make a small profit. That's a good thing for both the artist, who gets their work distributed for free and then benefits from increased patronage/sponsorship deals/etc. and a good thing for the pirate who makes a living and maybe even employs others. Since the official CDs are unaffordable anyway there isn't even a lost sale in many cases.

        That gets right to the heart of the problem: it used to cost a lot of money to copy media so it was relatively easy to control, but now the price of copying is basically free (internet) or extremely low (CD). As a producer of copyrightable work I think you just have to accept that people will be able to make copies for free now. I am one such producer, in fact I release most stuff as open source anyway, and people still pay me for copies. I do okay out of it in fact.

      • Countries like China and India can accept massive pirating because their economy has another basis, but if the West allows free distribution of media, then it undermines all that is keeping it afloat.

        Actually if the Chinese and Indians don't pay us for intellectual property then how do we get the money to pay for their physical goods? (Yeah, they're lending money to pay it back, great. And when payback time, they will use it to buy companies that'll provide them the technological lead.)

      • by damburger (981828)

        At the risk of a Godwin, that is like saying "Nazi Germany has give up voluntary factory work, all its economy has left is slave labour". If our economic model is doomed without infringement on civil liberties, then change the goddamn model!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 7-Vodka (195504)

        I would challenge that such a large part of the economy is really made up of creative works, but a quick google search did not provide me an adequate chart.

        In any case, curbing piracy inside the US will do the US economy no good no matter how large a portion is based on 'intellectual property'. There is zero net gain in wealth, it just moves around from one content producer to another and in the end no net wealth is created and the value of the goods is questionable and subjective. What really matters in

      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        But free distribution leads to more sales, however no one who's business model is built on suing people will admit that.

    • Re:Priorities (Score:5, Informative)

      by Grumbleduke (789126) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:44AM (#31045452) Journal

      I can't believe governments are spending so much time and effort going after file sharing. The types of punishment being proposed are also completely out of proportion. Why not spend this much effort going after other widespread crimes such as rape and human trafficking? Also, shouldn't the government be spending a lot more time worrying about environmental damage and climate change? Our futures are at stake, yet the biggest problem seems to be people exchanging bits on the Internet.

      What is also particularly impressive about this legislation is that it is entitled the "Digital Economy Bill" and followed on from the Digital Britain report. The original idea behind this process was to put into place any laws that would help boost the UK's digital sectors and make sure the country was at least 'up to date' with the rest of the western world if not ahead. However, rather than pushing for high-speed broadband, establishing tax incentives for tech firms or anything else that might actually help the UK economy, we have this badly-written piece of legislation.

      The Bill itself contains 44 main clauses of legislation, of which the first 17 are just about online copyright infringement. The government didn't even attempt to hide their (controversial and most likely pointless) anti-file sharing policies behind anything that might help the economy. While there is a section in the middle about TV and radio broadcasting rights (i.e. the government wants to push digital radio so it can sell off the rest of the radio spectrum), it then returns to Video Game censorship/classification [parliament.uk] (essentially out-sourcing it to PEGI) which adds an extra burden on video game producers.

      Then there is a fun section where the government helpfully demonstrates that it doesn't care at all about the "artist" or "content creator" (neither of which appear anywhere in the draft text). Clause 42 effectively creates a public licensing body for orphan work - which itself is quite a good idea (although a better way to make orphan works more available might be to reduce the duration of copyright) - but then they tag on an extra section that allows the body to

      to grant copyright licences in respect of works in which copyright is not owned by the body or a person on whose behalf the body acts. - Clause 42, 116B, (1) [parliament.uk]

      It seems that it is OK to take powers away from artists provided it is some large organisation (such as the RIAA-controlled PRS [prsformusic.com]) that is benefiting (the PRS kept a "small administration/commission fee" of £67m in 2007 [prsformusic.com] or about 12% of their revenue) rather than the general public.

      This Bill works out as a bad deal for internet users, content creators and even radio station operators. The bulk of the bill concerns adding further restrictions and costs on the digital sector; rather than helping the UK's "Digital Economy" this Bill seems to be doing all it can to hinder it. I guess that's what we should expect from an out-of-touch government and parliament full of politicians who care more about winning votes rather than doing the country any good.

      • by digitig (1056110)

        the government wants to push digital radio so it can sell off the rest of the radio spectrum

        And, I suspect, so they could control what we listen to, because I can get lots of foreign stations on my analogue radio, but only UK stations on DAB. I'm not sure whether or when when internet radio will come out of its niche to defeat that.

        • by horza (87255)

          I think you need to learn what those FM/AM/LW buttons actually mean. I doubt you get any foreign FM stations. This page [wikipedia.org] will give you all the information you need.

          Phillip.

          • by digitig (1056110)
            It's a long while since I have had a radio with an LW button, although I have one with a number of SW buttons. Not many people have, though.
            • by Smauler (915644)

              I drive vans and trucks for a living and every single vehicle I drive has LW, all manufactured in the last 5 years, except for one. I use it primarily to listen to the cricket when it's on. My home radio also has LW. With some of the newer vans, they only have a MW button, but that changes SW/MW/LW. Also in others, the MW spectrum encompasses all LW/MW/SW, without explicitly sayng it does.

              • by digitig (1056110)
                Certainly the radio in my car -- built in 2002 -- doesn't cover LW. Nor dows my wife's, and nor do most of the ones in my house.
      • by horza (87255)

        You are correct. Mandelson has perverted the Digital Britain initiative, chaired by Lord Carter, into a vehicle to be used by his media mogul buddies to economically rape its citizens. The initial idea was to more effectively use radio bandwidth, transition us from the analogue to digital age, use new bandwidth as a carrot to push telecoms companies to provide decent bandwidth to uneconomical rural areas, reducing "internet inequality", and help the country be more economically competitive in the new inform

        • Some of the details of the Bill started back with the Gowers Review [wikipedia.org] in 2005-06. This contained some quite interesting recommendations including:

          • not extending copyright (and in particular, not altered retrospectively),
          • a review of the TRIPS [wikipedia.org] agreement (to make the importation of drugs cheaper and easier, among other things),
          • allow libraries to format shift their content for archival purposes,
          • relax copyright laws (and add more 'fair use' exemptions),
          • look into requiring warnings on products with DRM (and making
      • by Xest (935314)

        Excellent post, it's just a shame the Tories will almost certainly get in next and their only public stance on it so far is that they agree but feel Labour should have done it all even sooner than they have.

        So unfortunately, we're fucked either way.

    • Re:Priorities (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pjt33 (739471) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:56AM (#31045518)

      I'm sure it has absolutely nothing to do with Lord Mandelson having dinner with David Geffen of Dreamworks [timesonline.co.uk], and I certainly wouldn't dream of suggesting that a politician whose first resignation was due to lying about business dealings might not be telling the whole truth when he denied discussing it with Geffen.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why not spend this much effort going after other widespread crimes such as rape and human trafficking?

      Because the victims of rape and human trafficking aren't usually rich enough to buy politicians, which is what you have to do for the government not to consider you subhuman.

    • by Derosian (943622)
      In America this is because we are no longer a government of the people, we are a government of the corporation, and corporations make money by holding onto IP.
    • by ZorinLynx (31751)

      It's because being able to freely exchange information is one of the most important tenets of freedom. It goes completely against the desire of most governments, which is to gain power and subdue the populace.

      Some people may think it's about "copyright infringement", it's not. It's about controlling the public. It always has been.

      The same technology used to fight "copyright infringement" can be used to further much more sinister plans.

      Be vigilant. Even if you don't pirate a single byte you need to fight thi

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I believe that you have it backwards. Why _wouldn't_ they. Such control gains profound benefits for lawmakers.

      * Control over copyrighted, marketable materials, which aids corporate contributors and large, campaign contributing parts of the entertainment industry.
      * Control over network traffic: shutting down casual, incessant downloaders lets the ISP's and related industries such as telco's manage their costs far more effectively. This is actually understandable: the cost of providing basic connectivity, nat

    • by shark72 (702619)

      "Why not spend this much effort going after other widespread crimes such as rape and human trafficking?"

      I agree with your sentiments, but this is begging the question. I don't think anybody here can quote reliable figures on the effort spent on copyright law infringement vs. enforcement of laws relating to rape and human trafficking. I can certainly provide some anecdotal evidence: when somebody I knew was raped a number of years back, the swift attention provided by multiple police agencies resulted in t

  • Mandelson sucks (Score:2, Informative)

    by PenisLands (930247)
    That Mandelson is a real crafty cocker. He wants power, and more power, and the more he gets, the more he wants. He can't be satisfied.
    • Re:Mandelson sucks (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:12AM (#31045286)

      Yeah, he lost his job for taking bribes twice before. There must be some evidence he took a pay-off from Geffen.

      • Well, IIRC, once he lost his job for getting some admitted dodgy dealings, the second time he was officially cleared of wrongdoing but had resigned anyway. Personally I'd trust him about as far as I could throw him (but there'd be no point, since he'd fly back boomerang-style). But the second time he went he was, at least officially, actually in the clear.

    • by Ja'Achan (827610)
      "What do all men with power want? More power."
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Shock horror! New Labour proposes a law that grants ill-defined, barely-limited power to Secretary of State!

      This bunch really don't seem to get that "trust us" doesn't wash. I hope that a) they get turfed out at the next election and b) their replacements are in some fashion better.

      • by 1s44c (552956)

        This bunch really don't seem to get that "trust us" doesn't wash. I hope that a) they get turfed out at the next election and b) their replacements are in some fashion better.

        a) Highly likely.
        b) Highly unlikely. You don't really think that any replacement government would choose to give up any of their police state powers do you?

    • by 1s44c (552956)

      That Mandelson is a real crafty cocker. He wants power, and more power, and the more he gets, the more he wants. He can't be satisfied.

      So in that respect he is just like every other politician. The only way to tell these scum apart is by the different lies they tell to con people into voting for them.

      • by horza (87255)

        It's not the first time we've had a power crazed nutjob like Mandelson. Though he is far more intelligent than most of them. This is why we have a strong civil service (watch "Yes Minister" if you have never seen it, very funny) and the House of Lords as a safety net. The shame is that if he actually worked for the people paying his salary (the tax payer) and not for his rich mates he wants to do favours for, he would actually be quite a good asset for the country.

        Phillip.

        • by jimicus (737525)

          This is why we have a strong civil service (watch "Yes Minister" if you have never seen it, very funny) and the House of Lords as a safety net.

          I have just finished watching all three series of "Yes, Minister" and I've finished the first series of "Yes, Prime Minister".

          I would point out that the "strong civil service" was usually portrayed as wanting to increase their own empires (and, with it, power). I don't know how much of it came from truth, but legend has it that Margaret Thatcher considered it compulsory viewing for junior ministers and there was a surprising amount of research going on behind the scenes.

          Most of the proposals Labour has put

  • ... if this bill pass as it is right now. Then the UK Pirate Party would get some more voters love!
    • The best outcome might be if this bill pass as it is right now. Then the UK Pirate Party would get some more voters love!

      We can hope so. More likely the majority of the population will be happy reading about a bill aimed at "cutting off those evil illegal downloaders clogging up the intertubes" and vote Labour or Conservative (or even Lib Dem) just because they did last time.

      Still, the Pirate movement is growing, both in the UK and the rest of the world; maybe things will start to change. [Disclaimer: Yes, I am a member of PPUK [pirateparty.org.uk] and currently work for Pirate Parties International [pp-international.net].]

    • by Andy_R (114137) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:33AM (#31045728) Homepage Journal

      It's certainly the issue that get us the most publicity, but as party leader, I'd be much much happier if the Pirate Party UK helped to change the bill for the better.

      There are some insanely draconian powers in the bill as it currently stands, it sidesteps the right to a fair trial, and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. It also makes the owner of a wifi access point punishable for allegations of copyright infringement, rather than being considered a common carrier, which will mean the end of free wifi in the UK.

  • Doesn't it seem like no matter what country we're talking about, when it comes to governments passing these types of restrictive laws, we're seeing this more and more?
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:08AM (#31045554) Homepage Journal

    You want rights? Alright - the day we defeat Eastasia, we'll start thinking about rights. Ooops, my mistake - Eastasia is our ally this month, it's Eurasia we have to defeat!

    Buncha whiney sissies, who needs rights anyway?

  • by redelm (54142) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:11AM (#31045570) Homepage
    Qui buono? Who benefits? The people? Or copyright holders? This one is obviously the latter. How do they get such favors? Through some obscure mechanism to earn support. Most likely party funding.

    Many people complain about the US system (&Japan) where individual candidates raise their own campaign funds. And would like to limit them. But at least these systems produce independant legislators.

    It was a spectacle when Tony Blair thrice put down backbencher revolts over UK involvement in Iraq (quite reasonably, labor platforms & supporters have always been dovish and somewhat antiUS). This convinced me that the UK (&other parlementary systems) are really elected dictatorships. Diktat is to be expected.

    • by damburger (981828)
      Too true. First-past the post, safe seats, and the boundary commission all collude to ensure that nothing substantially changes when an election happens. The entire structure is set up to give all the appearances of democracy with none of the reality of it.
    • by Tim C (15259)

      at least these systems produce independant legislators.

      Independent, apart from being beholden to their financiers...

    • by mpe (36238)
      Qui buono? Who benefits? The people? Or copyright holders? This one is obviously the latter.

      The vast majority of copyright holders are unlikely to benefit, in the same way that they havn't benefitted from other recent changes to copyright law.

      How do they get such favors? Through some obscure mechanism to earn support. Most likely party funding.
      Many people complain about the US system (&Japan) where individual candidates raise their own campaign funds. And would like to limit them. But at least the
      • by redelm (54142)
        Fully agreed many copyright holders are unlikely to benefit. I hold copyright in this post and sure won't". And even major holders will suffer if the "appetite whetting" argument (which they reject) is actually true.

        However, the copyright combines _will_ benefit. Why such association of monopolists is tolerated is beyond me. While not operative in the UK, the US Sherman and Clayton Acts do not ban monopolies. They ban the _extention_ and expansion of monopolies. Copyright is a govt granted monopoly,

  • Corruption.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by malkavian (9512) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:44AM (#31045794) Homepage

    Lordy Mandy is one of the more infamous characters of our Labour government. Several times he's been fired/forced to resign over corruption (taking bribes) and effectively fraudulent behaviour. Each time, he keeps getting hired back by the government when they think most people will have forgotten.
    He's shown himself to out only for his own personal profit, with flagrant disregard for the public, though a side effect is he also feathers the beds of his political allies in his bargains.

    Much of what Labour have brought in during their 12 years in power has been something the governmental organisations in Orwell's 1984 would have been proud of.
    Still, every election, they bleat about "beware the Tories because they're evil". No real evidence, just their usual "it's that way because we say it is".
    The political system bugs the hell out of me. On the one hand, we have the Tories who actually know how to put a country on a sound economic track. They like a light footprint of government, and let people get on with making money and jobs. However a lot of their social track record (though John Major, the last tory PM was a big change on that) is not so hot. They make the hard decisions.
    Labour, on the other hand, are the real "protect the underdog", to the extend of actually oppressing the majority to achieve this end.
    Somewhere in the middle of all this is the sweet spot, though the 'middle of the road' party we have isn't balanced by the extremes, but seems to try to muddle along without actually making any hard decisions one way or the other.

    The hard decision in this one is "how do we best benefit society to allow ourselves the flexibility to foster creativity at a fundamental level so we can compete globally in the future?".
    Hint. It's not to chase file sharers. It's probably more along the lines of reorganising the copyright system from the ground up to fit what we need to achieve as a society, not to prop up the business models of huge corporations. The upcoming economies that will in a generation or so surpass the existing economic powers will, while they're growing fast, play fast and loose with this. If the existing powers remain inflexible, and try to hide behind the old rules, they'll fall. History is full of things like this (Agincourt, American War of Independance etc.). Rules of engagement change, yet the 'old powers' try to hold onto them. They fail eventually and are superseded by a more flexible structure (until that structure ossifies under the pressure of internal greed).

    One day, we'll have organisational structures that strike the proper balance over extended periods, but I think that's a long way off. We're a primitive species still trying to struggle with its own success. A lot of this can be marked down to the pains of growing up. Doesn't mean we should be complacent. There are many structures that can govern, and many of them unpleasant.
    Come back the old "democracy" where at the end of the year, you voted on someone to exile for the year. HAve them living in penury and social isolation. That, methinks, could serve as a useful tool for those in the limelight.. Let them know there are consequences to actions..

    • Re:Corruption.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by damburger (981828) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @02:17PM (#31046852)

      On the one hand, we have the Tories who actually know how to put a country on a sound economic track. They like a light footprint of government, and let people get on with making money and jobs.

      OK, I am going to have to stop you there with some reality. The Tories are cut from the same idiotic market fundamentalist cloth you are, sure, but that doesn't translate into smaller government, or economic success. Your neoliberal ideas are unmitigated bullshit.

      Take Thatcher for instance: she came to power with a monetarist agenda, which almost immediately crippled the already struggling economy - and this was despite substantial oil revenues coming into the country at the time she took power. The only reason someone so blatantly incompetent was re-elected in 1983 was because she cynically manipulated nationalist sentiment over the Falklands war, and because the left were divided at the time. Much of the rest of her premiership was spent fudging her horrific economic record (lying about the whole monetarist thing, reducing unemployment stats by shifting people onto incapacity who didn't warrant it), ordering extrajudicial killings, and allowing the government budget to increase (which it had to in order to prop up the damaged economy she created. That is the actual economic record of your beloved Tories.

      Oh, and trying to equate your economic ideas to those of political freedom is asinine. Business faces fewer regulations in China (hence the lead paint and shit) but that country is clearly less free than anywhere in Western Europe.

      • by malkavian (9512)
        Interesting.. But would be good to see some good hard evidence behind that.
        Thather got in on the back of the Winter of Discontent [libcom.org].
        When she left power, the economy was in a lot better state than it was when she entered power; there was a rough ride to achieving stability, and a heavy social price was paid.
        As to how she created a broken economy when England was actually going to the IMF for over £2 billion before she took the reins of government is quite beyond me. It was thoroughly broken when she
        • by damburger (981828)

          You come across as a market fundamentalist by going on about 'small government' like that in the aftermath of one of the biggest market-caused economic disasters of living memory.

          If you want a quick summary of why Thatcher was nothing like the cult of personality the Tories built up around her, I suggest a documentary called 'Pandoras Box' by Adam Curtis. One of the episodes deals with her catastrophic economic experiments.

          • by malkavian (9512)

            I'll definitely check that out. Thanks for the reference.. But was hoping for a little more than a documentary (you get ones that have proof pro and proof con). Maybe that'll have some meat in it (if I can get hold of it)..

            Cheers..

    • by mpe (36238)
      Lordy Mandy is one of the more infamous characters of our Labour government. Several times he's been fired/forced to resign over corruption (taking bribes) and effectively fraudulent behaviour.

      Like the rest of them are honest?

      Each time, he keeps getting hired back by the government when they think most people will have forgotten. He's shown himself to out only for his own personal profit, with flagrant disregard for the public, though a side effect is he also feathers the beds of his political allies in
  • ...is a violation of human rights.
    • by malp (108885)

      lol, wut?

    • by MacWiz (665750)

      ...is a violation of human rights.

      Only if you use it like a bludgeon. The Author's Guild (U.S.) is trying to deal with Google's "library in the cloud" concept and sees the RIAA's actions as the way not to go about things. The problem isn't copyright, it's the way the MAFIAA has twisted and abused it.

      Their interpretation is a definitely a violation of common sense. Sadly, the same could be said for those still sharing RIAA music, as they are the only ones that the RIAA can legitimately harrass.

  • I believe being a working politician in the USA means and possibly even requires that every politician ignore and/or bypass copyright legislation in order to do their job. Considering the diverse uncontrolled information sources it would be a miracle if one wasn't.

  • Or refuse paying taxes.
    Because of prevailing harm to societies it is necessary not to limit, but to abolish the copyrights completely.

  • Tell the lawmakers that someone's rights are bound to be infringed. Ask those lawmakers in open forums (news shows, interviews, press conferences) if it is worse for a multimillion dollar corporation to lose some sales or for the entire populace to lose their rights as citizens.

    Wait for squirming. If they try to dodge the question, ask it again.

  • Sure, getting kicked off the internet is pretty bad from a rights perspective and all, but what gets me is the fines they're still able to levy in court for these things. The UK's fines are way out there, though not so much as the $2 million or so the US has fined in the past.

    From this blog post [prefixmag.com], here's a list of seven crimes which, in the US, will cost you less than downloading pirated music:

    1. Child abduction: the fine is only like $25000.
    2. Stealing the actual CD: the fine is $2,500
    3. Rob your neighbor:

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