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UK Anti-Piracy Law Survives Court Challenge 47

Grumbleduke writes "The UK's controversial Digital Economy Act survived its second court challenge today. Two ISPs had appealed last year's ruling that the measures included did not breach EU law and, for the most part, the Court of Appeal agreed, ruling in favor of the Government and the 10 unions and industry groups supporting the law in court. The decision was welcomed by the industry groups, but criticized by the UK's Pirate Party, whose leader pointed to the lack of evidence that the law would have any positive effects. A UK copyright specialist noted that the ISPs may still appeal the decision to the UK's Supreme Court, seeking a reference to the Courts of Justice of the European Union, and wondered if the law could now attract the same attention from the Internet as SOPA and ACTA. The law is still some way from being implemented, and the first notifications are not expected to be sent to alleged file-sharers before 2013, and the next steps could also be open to a legal challenge."
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UK Anti-Piracy Law Survives Court Challenge

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  • Re:That's it? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @07:37AM (#39273265) Homepage Journal

    Having tried a lot of different approaches to writing press releases, we've found that what works best for us in the UK is to issue short press releases like this one within moments of news breaking, and to make one short point, that is sensible, moderate, and very difficult to argue with.

    This particular release might not go down so well with the slashdot crowd, but it achieved our objective of getting on to the front page of the BBC news site ( see [] ) with a strong, well argued message that doesn't paint us as alarmist, aggressive, or irrational. We did go on to say "Threats to chuck entire households off the web will be bad for the economy, bad for society - and for us as a creative nation too.", (just as you suggest) but we're always at the mercy of editors who, as I think this proves, often cut out most of what we actually say.

    At this early stage in the Party's development, getting press coverage is tough, especially because we're don't fit the preconceptions the press have of loony people with eye patches. This particular story gave us a big headache, the verdict was actually on a fairly small portion of the act that referred to ISP costs, and the question of parts of the Act that should have been notified to the European Commission under the Technical Standards Directive and weren't possibly rendering them unenforceable. The full verdict was likely to be several hundred paragraphs of dense legalese, and crucially, there is usually a delay of several hours between the press reporting the yes/no verdict and any of the court's reasoning being available for us to read.

    We've found that waiting for the reasoning means we can put out strong, detailed press releases with point-by-point demolitions of our opponents messages... that don't get picked up on by the press. Simlarly, rants full of venom and references to chilling effects don't go down very well either, partly because the UK doesn't have the same constitutional devotion to free speech that the US does, and therefore 'chilling effect? so what' is usually the public's attitude, but mostly because nobody quotes them except for the Register.

    Ideally, I'd love to come up with something like HeadOfLegal's analysis (see [] ) and get it quoted, but realistically, no mainstream journalist is going to read, digest, summarise and quote something like that in the few minutes they have to get the story online. Print journalism is a different matter, as the deadlines are longer, but we've found that if the BBC website quotes us, then we get interview requests where we can go into more detail.

    On this particular story, an appeal on a small part of the bill, followups were actually not that likely if the verdict went against the ISPs. There isn't really much in the verdict that's actually interesting to the general public to be honest. We knew that the press coverage would therefore be vague (hence the understandable impression you got that 'we lost the case' because the damage to the public wasn't highlighted, when it was actually two piracy-neutral ISPs that lost a cost-splitting debate over an obscure point of EC procedure), and that on past form the quotes from the copyright lobbyists would be emotional rants with little basis in reality. If you look at the BBC story from the point of view of a neutral observer, we got a much bigger quote than the pro-copyright lobby did, and we come across as more rational and less scare-mongering. For a bunch of unpaid amateurs taking on the might of the copyright lobby, I think we actually did pretty well this time.

  • by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @08:25AM (#39273487) Homepage Journal

    I'd love to be able to tell you exactly why that would (or wouldn't work), but I can't because of the very unusual way the Digital Economy Act is supposed to work. The bill was passed in the dying hours of the last government, without proper debate. There was no time for it to be properly drafted and for the quirks and loopholes to even be thought about, let alone debated, debugged, and finalised. All of that essential the detail was sidestepped by a promise that it would all be in "the code", a document written by Ofcom (the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries).

    Ofcom have been put in a very difficult position by this, suddenly they have been bound by parliament to step well outside their role as regulators and become unelected legislators. To their credit, they have sidestepped the temptation to power-grab, that have consulted widely, they have told the government they need more time, and they have even taken on board a lot of Pirate Party feedback that warns of absurd situations like the one you suggest. What they haven't yet done is actually finish writing "the code", so nobody really knows precisely how the DEAct will actually do what it is supposed to do, at this stage, which makes it quite difficult to fight. The ISP costs split which sparked off this appeal we're (theroetically) discussing in this story is one of the few bits that's actually in the bill, which is why it's getting all the attention.

    Interestingly, it's possible that Ofcom will turn round to the government and say 'You're trying to implement collective punishments here, and that's not just wrong, or even very wrong, it's actually so spectacularly wrong that it's specifically mentioned as a no-no in the Geneva Convention on War Crimes, which means we can't actually write you a code that would stand up to the and degree of judicial scrutiny.'

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972