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UK Internet Filtering Bill Watered Down 183

Posted by kdawson
from the still-siding-with-the-man dept.
superapecommando writes in with news that in the UK, Liberal Democratic peers will soften their filtering amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, to allow those wrongfully accused of illegal filesharing to sue the rightsholders in court. The previous version of the Bill had drawn instant criticism from some of the world's largest technology companies, including eBay, Google, and Yahoo, who signed an open letter against the filtering proposal. Blogger Glyn Moody summed up opposition to the Bill, stating that in its previous form, it was "utterly one-sided, where the only winners are a music recording industry too lazy to change, and the losers are everyone else."
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UK Internet Filtering Bill Watered Down

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  • by PeterBrett (780946) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @04:54AM (#31492894) Homepage

    Unfortunately, this story is already out-of-date. The Government denied the Liberal Democrat peers the ability to amend the amendment, saying that they'd sort it out themselves during "washing-up", the period just before the General Election when ministers and last-term backbenchers rush through last-minute legislation with minimal debate while the majority of MPs return to their constituencies to campaign.

    See this Guardian article [guardian.co.uk] for more information.

    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @05:48AM (#31493102) Journal

      Who can afford the lawyers? Now if they really wanted to make this work (don't forget that all parties in england have to pacify the media/content owners. Do you want to upset the content producers and then be ridiculed forever in every piece of content? Go ahead, suggest the BBC should be privatized, see how long your public image survives. Yesterday the BBC aired an entirely self serving copyright program that showed only the content owners point of view. How suprising)

      If this was to work, then the content owners should setup a fund from which lawsuits against them could be funded, they should be rate limited to the amount they could spend on lawyers and be stopped from endlessly appealing. The damages should be high enough that it is a serious detterent against endless false claims and for any succesful claim, the pot for making claims against them is doubled.

      Else it is just a hollow shell. Nobody can afford to sue the media companies. Don't let the lib-dems fool you.

      • by PeterBrett (780946) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @06:04AM (#31493174) Homepage

        Who can afford the lawyers? Now if they really wanted to make this work (don't forget that all parties in england have to pacify the media/content owners. Do you want to upset the content producers and then be ridiculed forever in every piece of content? Go ahead, suggest the BBC should be privatized, see how long your public image survives. Yesterday the BBC aired an entirely self serving copyright program that showed only the content owners point of view. How suprising)

        Well, we upset the content producers by our very existence, but we still seem to be getting some media coverage -- indeed, several media organisations have contacted us in the last few hours asking for statements!

        We've published a press release [pirateparty.org.uk] about last night's Panorama programme:

        The Pirate Party UK has come out as highly critical of the BBC's recent Panorama programme for its disappointing coverage of the Digital Economy Bill.

        Although Panorama attempted to give a fair hearing to both sides of the controversy surrounding the bill, it was ultimately considered inadequate. In particular, the BBC was criticised for its failure to get informed commentary from organisations opposed to the bill, such as the Open Rights Group, Coadec and the Pirate Party, meaning that the arguments both for and against the Digital Economy Bill were incomplete, largely misrepresented and often factually inaccurate.

        ...

        Panorama: Separating Fact from Fiction [pirateparty.org.uk]

        • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @06:52AM (#31493352)

          It's not a suprise. Panorama is probably one of the few things I hate the BBC for. Panorama is basically the BBC's answer to the Daily Mail.

          Panorama is frequently wrong, and the BBC frequently has to publish apologies, but these apologies are always hidden away, or non-obvious, and occur long after the BBC has already shown said episode of Panorama anyway. It was Panorama for example that started the BBC's push about Wifi being dangerous and giving teachers headaches, even though all of this was entirely unproven by them. It was later found that the BBC was indeed out of line, but the apology was merely published online and the damage was already done- countless schools around the country were adamant that Wifi was dangerous and started removing it from all the classrooms. I was working in Education IT at the time, and it was hard work trying to make the schools realise Panorama was wrong, even after they had issued the apology.

          Panorama has similarly done shock stories full of inaccuracies on things like children using the internet too.

          It's just a bad, bad TV series, and the BBC should be embarassed for even allowing it to continue. It's really a horrible stain on their otherwise generally good reputation.

          • by Canazza (1428553)

            It's really sad that some of the best current affairs programmes on the BBC are the likes of "Mock the Week" and "Have I Got News for You". Panorama's nonsense, Question Time's become an irrelevant circus, especially after that Griffin debacle. You get more sense and balance out of Richard Hammonds "Should I worry about" show.

            • by Canazza (1428553)

              Oh, and Newswipe, how could I forget Newswipe. Using the media's own techniques to mock them. Delicious Irony.

            • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @07:32AM (#31493532)

              Yeah, I don't know why the BBC struggles with serious current affairs programs so much. Particularly when you look at programs like Horizon and series like Planet Earth, and Life which are generally nothing short of outstanding. They clearly can do serious programs well, they can clearly do comedy current affairs programs well, it's not as if their news site and the current affairs stuff on there isn't generally excellent either. They just can't seem to mix it all together to provide serious TV based current affairs shows without ending up in an epic fail.

              • Everything on BBC television is informed by the need to be entertainment, if you expect to be informed by their output you are delusional. The BBC is just a branch of the Labour party anyway judging by their recent shutdown of the Have your Say website because they didn't like the overwhelming anti Labour viewpoint of the visitors coming up to the election. If you look back at the history of legislation you will find that the Labour party always pass deeply unpopular and badly written bills just before elec

                • by Canazza (1428553)

                  Every party do this, everywhere. It's called Lame Duck Politics [wikipedia.org] - it's not a uniquely Labour phenomenon.

                • by Xest (935314)

                  "Everything on BBC television is informed by the need to be entertainment, if you expect to be informed by their output you are delusional."

                  What are you on about? Have you ever even watched the likes of Planet Earth or Horizon?

                  "The BBC is just a branch of the Labour party anyway judging by their recent shutdown of the Have your Say website because they didn't like the overwhelming anti Labour viewpoint of the visitors coming up to the election."

                  What you mean this "Have your say?" that er, isn't actually shu

          • by dangitman (862676)

            It's just a bad, bad TV series, and the BBC should be embarassed for even allowing it to continue. It's really a horrible stain on their otherwise generally good reputation.

            The funny/sad thing about this is that Panorama is like an award-winning documentary compared to Fox News, and yet Fox New is increasingly being taken seriously as a news source in America.

            • Well, here in the UK, we're just copying the US model. I gather that for a long time, the average viewer of The Daily Show has been more informed than the average viewer of Fox News. Over here, the average viewer of Mock the Week or Have I Got News For You? (or the average listener to The News Quiz, if you prefer) is probably more informed than the average viewer of Panorama, Question Time or Newsnight.

              It's a shame, because some of those flagship BBC current affairs programmes really were good once upon a t

  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @05:27AM (#31493024)

    The UK legal system operates on a "loser pays" basis, so unless there's something explicitly written into the law which puts such cases in the Small Claims Court (where there is a limit to the expenses that can be claimed by either side), you can guarantee anyone threatening to sue these people will be met with a nastygram saying "If you continue in taking us to court, we will demand costs. We're up to £20,000 now, and it's rising with every letter we write."

    The people who are most likely to be cowed by such a threat are exactly the people who are most likely to get such a threat in the first place - I'm thinking particularly those who can't afford a solicitor and where the parents in the household don't really understand what the kids get up to on the Internet.

    • by nosferatu1001 (264446) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @06:22AM (#31493238)

      Then sue for an amount less than £5000, where it is *automatically* Small Claims Court. Even magistrates court is "cheap"

      Oh, and "loser pays" is not always the case - if you are found to have unwarranted costs (for example, retaining a QC to handle a simple copyright matter) then you may find you are told to pay them yourself, even if you win.

      In essence *both* sides have a duty to mitigate costs, and any failure to do so is looked down on, usually from a great height...

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        That depends on how certain you are of winning. In libel actions were the plaintiff almost invariably wins (in English law), there's little threat of having to meet your own exorbitant court costs. Given the way this is being pushed through I doubt there's a judicial atmosphere in favour of defendants in these sorts of cases.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xelah (176252)
      You often don't get all your costs back. 80%-ish is more normal, I believe, and I'm not sure you can claim for everything anyway. If you run out of money before the end then you lose, so rich opponents can make you go through all the hoops in the hope of making that happen. IIRC, it's also possible to ask a court to refuse to let you continue a case on the grounds that you won't be able to pay the defendant's costs if you lose.
  • FTFS:

    to allow those wrongfully accused of illegal filesharing to sue the rightsholders in court.

    This is still highly lopsided.

    Why does a "wrongfully accused" have to sue? Shouldn't that be that this accused has been sued already or so?

    If really this way it is still that the music company just can say "you're file sharing!" without having to have any firm proof, as most file sharers will not sue in the first place because of the huge costs involved just to start up a suit.

  • As if slightly less terrible news is suddenly good news...
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@hacki s h . o rg> on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @06:13AM (#31493206)

    The Liberal Democrats are supposed to be the heirs of the liberal tradition in the UK, supporting individual rights against government power. Their official party platform is John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. I don't really see how this fits even remotely.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      I don't know, but it's going to cost them my vote come election time. It goes against everything I thought they stood for.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Xest (935314)

        But the problem is, who do you vote for instead?

        As a Lib Dem voter, this disgust me too, but I'm still concerned that they're the best option, partly because it is Lib Dem Lords that have done this, rather than the parliamentary party for which you'd be voting, and partly because the Lib Dems goal of doing away with our horrendously undemocratic first past the post system is simply more important. I think this latter point is prominent, because first past the post is the reason we have these untouchable, un

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          Good advice, I'll probably be writing to my local lib dem instead, seeing as they're the one whose vote is in jeopardy. If I'm not voting Lib Dem it sure as hell isn't going to Labour or the Conservatives, though, don't worry about that.

          • by Canazza (1428553)

            Same here, but my only other choices are SNP, Green, Socialist or the Christian Party.

            I really only have one choice out of those...

            I wonder what the Christian Party's stance on this bill is?

            • by Sockatume (732728)

              There's never been a better time to start our own party.

              "Sick of those other arseholes? Join us!"

              • There's never been a better time to start our own party.

                "Sick of those other arseholes? Join us!"

                No, join us! There's still enough time to put yourself forward as a candidate for the Pirate Party!

      • by Ma8thew (861741)
        In fairness to the Lib Dems this isn't an official policy. This is a group of their lords, and as you know, lords can pretty much do what they like with no recourse from the party that put them in the house.
    • by JackDW (904211)

      I love the idea of the Liberal Democrats but I don't think they have any genuinely liberal principles any more. They seem to have been infected by the same "liberal" populist authoritarianism that's possessed the other two major parties over the last few decades, and now it is very hard to see how they offer anything different. "Liberal" in name only.

      I think you can judge a party by its actions while in opposition, and in that regard, both the Cameron Conservatives and the Lib Dems have been so utterly use

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      Even hippies have to eat (and campaign). Let's check their donors list, and see how much the FACT-a-likes bunged them.

      Sadly, they're not even honest politicians - by recanting a little, they showed that they won't even stay bought.

  • 3-strikes law (Score:3, Informative)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @07:16AM (#31493438) Homepage Journal

    This bill contains 3-strikes and you are out law, which means that if someone is merely accused of copyright violation 3 times, their broadband connection is terminated.

    I'll tell you what it looks like.

    In the former USSR there was no Internet, but people listened to radio. There was no 3-strike law, you only needed to be caught once. You were not allowed to get information from the rest of the 'free' (what used to be free) world, if you tried, you were obviously an outlaw.

    This is what it looks like to me, not precisely, but close enough. There is Internet, and then there is the 'free' Internet and the UK citizens are losing their free Internet.

    It looks even worse than what happened in the USSR. There, they just tried to prevent people from listening to BBC by interfering with the radio waves, but they could not really know who was listening, who tried to listen.

    Here they will know, they will know who is listening, who is trying. Even worse, if your connection is encrypted, I am sure that there will be in the future an assumption you are braking the law, so you will be presumed guilty for having an encrypted connection, unless it is to an approved bank or to an approved store I suppose. Which, by the way, if you think about it, is a perfect next step: eliminate bank and store competition, by only allowing encryption to a very select few. You think that won't happen?

    This is worse than the USSR in terms of ability to listen and to make assumptions about who is doing what. This is still not as bad as the USSR, probably you won't go to a far away place in Siberia. Not yet. Not until UK contracts Russia out to handle its prisoners. You watch, that'll happen to: contracting brutal places out to handle your prisoners, especially prisoners that happen to be anti-policy, so they are anti-corporation, anti-government.

    Shit, long time ago I though Britain could have been quite an interesting place to live for a while, now, I think I'll avoid that place just as much as I avoid the US, though I must admit, I like Florida's climate.

  • Liberal Democratic peers will soften their filtering amendment to the Digital Economy Bill

    It's just "Liberal Democrat", not "Liberal Democratic". There's nothing liberal or democratic about these people.

  • The only thing that has changed is that I can sue the rights holder if I am cut off the internet without justification. Now correct me if I am wrong, but to go through the process of finding a lawyer, communicating with said lawyer, getting forms and doing all the other things you do during a court case would be SERIOUSLY hampered by not having access to the internet. What if I can't afford a lawyer and have to read up on law...can't spend my whole life down in London at the British Library sifting throug

    • by delinear (991444)
      Even worse if, like a good percentage of the people using this site, your livelihood depends on internet access in one way or another. How do you even support yourself if you can't work while you're trying to fight a false accusation?

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