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Censorship Government The Internet United Kingdom Your Rights Online

DMCA Amendment Proposed For UK 208

Grumbleduke writes "During today's debate in the UK's House of Lords on the much-criticized Digital Economy Bill, the unpopular Clause 17 (which would have allowed the government to alter copyright law much more easily than it currently can) was voted out in favor of a DMCA-style take-down system for websites and ISPs. The new amendment known as 120A sets up a system whereby a copyright owner could force an ISP to block certain websites who allegedly host or link to infringing material or face being taken before the High Court and made to pay the copyright owner's legal fees. This amendment was tabled by the Liberal Democrat party, which had so far been seen as the defenders of the internet and with the Conservative party supporting them. The UK's Pirate Party and Open Rights Group have both strongly criticized this new amendment."
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DMCA Amendment Proposed For UK

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  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan ( 757476 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:10AM (#31355834) Homepage Journal

    Worse, it's in the ACTA treaty:

    Their goal is to conclude the ACTA agreement by the end of 2010. Countries involved are Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States (US) - and others will be pressured to join afterward.

  • by cyclomedia ( 882859 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:15AM (#31355858) Homepage Journal

    Sigh, it's another kind of super injunction and of course there's a catch all, meaning it can be used not just against copyright infringment but "any issues of national security" or "any other matters which appear to the Court to be relevant". So Mr. Billy Footballer could seek an injunction to block a website because it has a photo of him snorting coke on it, probably.

    From TFL:

    97B Preventing access to specified online locations for the prevention of online copyright infringement
    (1) The High Court (in Scotland, the Court of Session) shall have power to grant an injunction against a service provider, requiring it to prevent access to online locations specified in the order of the Court for the prevention of online copyright infringement.
    (2) In determining whether to grant an injunction under subsection (1), the Court shall have regard to the following matters—
    (a) whether a substantial proportion of the content accessible at or via each specified online location infringes copyright,
    (b) the extent to which the operator of each specified online location has taken reasonable steps to prevent copyright infringement content being accessed at or via that online location or taken reasonable steps to remove copyright infringing content from that online location (or both),
    (c) whether the service provider has itself taken reasonable steps to prevent access to the specified online location,
    (d) any issues of national security raised by the Secretary of State.
    (e) the extent to which the copyright owner has made reasonable efforts to facilitate legal access to content,
    (f) the importance of preserving human rights, including freedom of expression, and the right to property, and
    (g) any other matters which appear to the Court to be relevant.

  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan ( 757476 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:55AM (#31356070) Homepage Journal

    page 27 requires that "the online service providers act expeditiously, in accordance with applicable law, to remove or disable access to infringing material or infringing activity upon obtaining actual knowledge of the infringement" - i.e. upon receiving a cease-and-desist letter.

    Page 3 [swpat.org] has the current working text about "n order to a party to desist from an infringement" and which the EU wants to be written as "The Parties shall also ensure that the right holders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe an intellectual property right."

    Page 30 [swpat.org] contains the Japanese proposal which is the current working text: 3 ter. Each Party shall enable right holders, who have given effective notification to an online service provider of materials that they claim with valid reasons to be infringing their copyright or related rights, to expeditiously obtain from that provider information on the identity of the relevant subscriber.

  • Re:Change is coming? (Score:3, Informative)

    by BiggerIsBetter ( 682164 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:16AM (#31356152)

    No offense intended! Age is not a factor, and indeed I have some more senior IT colleagues who will also object strongly to this ACTA nonsense. Importantly, I expect that the 40+ group is likely to be taken more seriously by the politicians.

  • Re:Pirate Party? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:28AM (#31356204)

    [While I am a member of the Pirate Party UK, I speak only for myself here.]

    “We recognise the iniquity of those seeking to prevent the development of free culture via immoral and questionable means, whilst portraying and labelling those that share information privately, and for no monetary gain, as nothing more than villainous, degenerate ‘pirates’. We seek to halt and de-construct the digital feudalism which now pervades the market, the reform of legislation that is currently manipulated to protect obsolete business models and feudalistic copyright controls.

    “In response to this, the party has adopted the very term employed by associations and copyright maximalists, intended to demonise and promote further and more strict criminalisation of file sharing and free culture distribution, and used it to identify ourselves as a means of drawing attention to the fallacious nature of the label. It is true that we sail on the gales of creative destruction, however, we do so in the hope of aiding the creation of an open and democratic information society and founding of a cultural commons.”

    — Quoted from the Pirate Party Australia, but the reasoning is the same.

    It’s well known around here to be absurd that you’d equate people who commit copyright infringement with those who pillage and murder on the high seas, or that you’d equate piracy with theft when one is copying and the other is moving (completely different primitives)—the name is deliberately chosen to highlight that absurdity and provoke debate.

  • by stupid_is ( 716292 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:33AM (#31356218) Homepage

    Mark Thomas [markthomasinfo.com] (who does do publicity stunts) is not Mark Thompson [wikipedia.org], the DG@BBC.

    The Beeb is being told to cut back on a lot of commercial activities (e.g. merchandising), which means a loss of revenue, which means cut-backs are inevitable. It would be nice if a start point was to stop paying rich folks quite so much in salaries, but that's only going to be a drop in the ocean for this, and there's a risk that they'll do a BA [bbc.co.uk].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @07:28AM (#31356490)

    Unfortunately a £500 deposit is payable to do this in the UK, and this is only returned if you receive more than 5% of the vote. It doesn't sound like a lot, but many people simply can't afford to spend that much.

    Source: http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/members/electing_mps/candidates.cfm

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:16AM (#31357044)

    I said I was disgusted with the proposal etc. and here is their reply; from the horses mouth no less.

    Thank you for your email yesterday. Please see Lord Clement-Jones' justification for his amendment here:

    "The Digital Economy Bill, as currently drafted, only deals with a certain type of copyright infringement, namely peer-to-peer file sharing. Around 35% of all online copyright infringement takes place on non peer-to-peer sites and services. Particular threats concern “cyberlockers” which are hosted abroad.

    There are websites which consistently infringe copyright, many of them based outside the UK in countries such as Russia and beyond the jurisdiction of the UK courts. Many of these websites refuse to stop supplying access to illegal content.

    It is a result of this situation that the Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment in the Lords which has the support of the Conservatives that enables the High Court to grant an injunction requiring Internet Service Providers to block access to sites.

    The amendment (amendment 120A) has generated some concern on the internet in the last few days.

    Amendment 120A makes an explicit reference to human rights implications being taken into consideration by the Courts whilst they consider the imposition of an injunction. Such a safeguard is paramount to our concerns.

    The intention is also for the injunction to only be possible for sites where there is a substantial proportion of infringing material that is either hosted by that particular site or is accessed through the particular site in question.

    The injunction will only be granted where copyright owners had first requested ISP’s to block access to the site and where they had also requested the site operator to stop providing access to the infringing material (either by removing the material itself or removing the ability to access the material).

    There already exists a remedy under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (section 97A) which grants copyright owners a broad power to apply to the Court for an injunction. Therefore, all amendment 120A does is enhance this power by giving copyright owners a more clearly defined route.

    Site blocking is not a new phenomenon, the most well-known being the recommended list of sites to block provided by the Internet Watch Foundation

    Clause 17, the Government’s completely objectionable power to enable the Secretary of State to attempt to amend copyright law at any time is deleted by the joint Lib Dem and Conservative amendment.

    Unlike Clause 17, amendment 120A depoliticises the process. The amendment will ensure any action will be heard before the High Court. The liberal principle of equality before the law remains intact allowing both sides to make their case before a judge, not by appeal to the Secretary of State.

    Before making an injunction, under the amendment the Court has to have regard to whether the copyright owner has made reasonable efforts to facilitate legal access. This is designed to ensure that copyright owners continue to develop innovative ways of enabling their material to be accessed online legally, such as Spotify, before turning to legal action.

    To conclude, the Lib Dems are not seeking to censor the internet but are responding to genuine concerns from the creative industries about providing a process whereby their material can be satisfactorily accessed legally."

    Best wishes,

    Dan Murch
    Liberal Democrat Policy Research Unit

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:25AM (#31357100)
    I started thinking about my internet usage earlier today. It turns out that I use it mostly for:
    Listening to Spotify
    Playing WoW
    Watching programs on iPlayer / 4oD etc
    Patching my OS
    Reading webcomics
    Reading the news

    The only one which might be affected is the last one. Last time I checked, Wikileaks was on the darknets / Freenet anyway.

    I lose nothing.
  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:48AM (#31357302)

    It's an interesting reply, but I think it misses the major problem with the idea behind this legislation, which proposes to ban access to any site where some unspecified majority of content is infringing (the required amount presumably to be established later by courts in the case law on the issue). The problem with this is that many of these sites also contain useful non-infringing content that can often be difficult to acquire elsewhere, e.g. I've come across a number of small free/shareware software authors who use rapidshare as their primary distribution point. Killing access to these sites also kills legitimate content, which absolutely should not be permitted.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @10:38AM (#31357776)

    Yes, the reaction to this seems to be wildly missing the point AFAICS.

    The old version would have allowed a government minister, acting on his/her own authority without the usual oversight/consent from Parliament, to set penalties for all kinds of things. That was how we got the danger of people being completely cut off from the Internet because someone with whom they shared a connection had been merely accused of infringement three times. And yes, the current minister is unelected, and seems to have adopted rather strong views on this subject shortly after a private meeting with a big player in the game.

    Now, a takedown system is not great: it's vulnerable to malicious false claims, it's going to impose a compliance burden on ISPs, and it isn't as strong a defence of copyright holders where they have a legitimate grievance. Even so, surely that is still better than effectively unrestricted penalties imposed without either the usual legislative or judicial oversight on the basis of a mere allegation by an industry with a history of making false accusations.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @10:55AM (#31357926)

    The supposingly "defenders of the Internet" turn out to be the one who table the bill.

    Who else can you trust?

    Had to look this one up for it to make sense.

    For others who may be confused, in the USA "to table a bill" means basically to dump it. In the UK, "to table a bill" means to begin discussion of it.

  • by gink1 ( 1654993 ) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @10:55AM (#31357928)

    This may be a disturbing observation but Big Media is pulling off a stunning achievement here.

    Not content to work with the laws of various countries, they bought the cooperation of powerful legislators and created a mechanism to force adoption and compliance to a very restrictive set of laws.

    These laws will work to penalize movement and use of copyrighted works but at the same time will have a chilling effect on the internet as a whole. They will probably force ISP's to block many services they will now be responsible for as well. At the same time paid access to copyrighted material becomes one of the few practical methods to access information.

    Of course enforcement will only be as good as the ISP's and their detection software, but for most internet users that will prove good enough.

    I very much hate seeing what Big Media is doing here but it really is a masterful plan. There are a lot bigger and richer special interests that can't hold a candle to Big Media. And shit - it seems like it will all work.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!