Would the actions of the Digital Economy Bill be tolerated “offline”?


11:40 am - March 18th 2010

by Lee Griffin    


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Home Sewing is killing the fashion industryThere’s a race on, and no it’s not the Cheltenham festival. Should the election be held on the 6th of May as is expected then parliament will be duly dissolved around the 6th of April, which leaves only 10 days of parliamentary time to debate all the remaining laws trying to be passed. It is this reason that when the Lords finally passed the Digital Economy Bill on the 15th of March they spent a significant portion of time discussing the issue of the “wash-up”, or a (relatively) clandestine period of legislative discussion that occurs in the twilight between an announcement of an election being made, and parliament being closed down for the impending election.

The Government here has one hope and one set of plans, get the Digital Economy Bill through to the “wash-up” in such a way that they can add bits and pieces to an already illiberal piece of legislation without the proper scrutiny of parliament. Instead of our elected representatives ensuring that we are protected from bad law, it would come down to the front benches and the party political whims of the main parties. In short, representation takes the back foot in place of backroom dealing to pass the bills, even if they are slightly watered down in the process. It’s for this reason that we have to stand our ground and ask our MPs to ensure this controversial bill receives proper scrutiny. If they do not provide that scrutiny, if the law goes through on the nod, then the government will have every power to do what they wish, opposed only by the minority Lib Dem party and the Tory party who are surely not the best example of a party beholden to public democracy over business interests.

For those that are writing to your MPs, specifically point them to the areas of the bill that are problematic (and do so in your own words, it has more impact!):

  1. If you dislike the idea of OFCOM becoming a UK internet regulation body of any “editorially controlled” content “service” – see Clause 1
  2. If you dislike vague law that would allow unscrupulous ministers to restrict your internet access without warning after ZERO warnings, if they so chose – see Clause 6
  3. If you dislike the idea of being cut off from your internet because someone in your house/university/workplace allegedly broke the law – see Clauses 10 and 11.
  4. If you a) Don’t want the BPI to draft law for us or b) don’t want websites blocked by ISPs because the ISPs are blackmailed with threats of legal costs if they don’t block access to the site – see Clause 18
  5. If you don’t want the government to have the power to take ownership of uk domain names on a vague concept of “fairness” – see Clause 19
  6. If you dislike leaving the door open to require online games to be regulated – see Clause 41
  7. If you’re concerned about new law being made (re: Orphan Works) that is weakened by old law not being enforced – see Clause 43

Here we have a shopping list of concerns that have still barely been touched by the lengthy debate in the Lords. The main problem that has been doing the rounds is clearly the issues posed by point 2, the “three strikes” law that is worded in such relaxed language that how often someone has to “infringe” copyright is able to be amended in a manner that receives almost no scrutiny in parliament. They may say 3 strikes now, or maybe 50…but it doesn’t mean that they couldn’t say NO strikes, in the future. We have to, as with the Coroners and Justice bill before it, take the law at it’s wording, not it’s intention.

It is for ALL of these above reasons that we need debate to happen, we need to ensure that there is contention…the reason is that where there is disagreement before the wash-up, there is unlikely to be any passing of those parts of the bill during the wash-up without serious amendment. That is if the bill even makes it in to the wash-up. Our best chance to ensure that these potential afflictions against our human rights, afflictions without proper due process and through collective punishment, is to make sure MPs stand up and show the Government that not passing bad law is the only outcome to not being able to discuss it and amend it properly.

Alas, wait! What was that? Internet is not a human right? Who says so?. Well if we put aside for a moment that it is clearly, legally, not an enforceable right…aren’t there other factors? First is public opinion about internet access being a right. Overwhelmingly the global populace believes internet access IS a fundamental right. So while the Government may be able to petulantly claim that they are right in a legal sense, they are still legislating against the general mood of the public. Normally this might be acceptable if it were “for the public’s own good”, but in this case it is clearly only for the good of big business.

My personal feeling is that the internet is only not a right in the same way that being able to walk out of your house is not a right. When I put this to twitter the response I got back from alexwilcock was: [Digital Economy Bill] penalties written by music biz are as if Thatcher brought in indefinite house arrest to stop home taping.

This goes along with a lot of feelings I’ve had about how the internet is dealt with for a long time. Is the internet a tool, or is it a “virtual environment”? I lean towards thinking the latter. Reading blogs are like participating in group get-togethers, going to the BBC news site is like buying a newspaper, buying some shoes online is akin to taking a trip to your highstreet, emailing your parents only a step away from sending them a letter. This duality is why it concerns me as to the prospect of the various points above coming in to fruition; cynically I might ask “what does it say about what our law makers would prefer they could do in the ‘real world’?”

Take point 1. OFCOM regulation. It may be the case that it won’t go as far as the law wording would seemingly allow (it is fairly vague, even after scouring the original Communications Act 2003)…but regulating blogs, youtube videos, podcasts isn’t the same as regulating the content that is broadcast on TV or through the radio, it’s like a guy with a clipboard being present with you down the pub to ensure that no-one strays in to too risque a territory.

Then there’s point 3. Would you appreciate being put under house arrest not because of any court determined guilt, but because of someone making accusations of copyright infringement against you for something that may or may not have occurred in your property at the time? Is it even remotely justified to put you under house arrest, to stop you from going to the library, to work, or to socialise with your friends because of those accusations alone?

Or how about point 4…how would you feel if the police were stopping you from accessing your local community centre because a single individual or organisation had threatened the local council in such a way that it is too much for the council to risk the financial cost of allowng it to continue functioning for the community? Imagine arriving at your local pub only to find it inaccessible to you, even though anyone that is visiting from another town can use it freely; not for anything that you or your town have necessarily done, but because of the implications made by an individual in a completely unscrutinised manner?

Finally, point 5 would be very interesting. Could you imagine the police coming and turfing you out of a building you’ve legitimately bought, and putting it back on the market without paying you a penny, simply because you knew it was in a good location and could make some money off of the future sale? Somehow I don’t think that’s all too likely!

Yet practices parallel to these are trying to be made law simply because what we’re talking about are the highways of the internet instead of the highways of our local ward, town or city. It’s about time that we showed the Government that, just like our every day lives when not sat next to a computer, it is not acceptable to over-regulate and over-police the every day lives of our more “virtual” selves. The internet is a part of this world now just as the roads and pavements are, and it’s time to start acting proportionately to the problems and challenges that brings. We already are lumped with a system that says that our every web page visit and email must be stored in a database “for the children”, yet if the government tried to pull a stunt like chipping us, recording every movement we make and storing every conversation we have with one another there would be nationwide uproar.

The Digital Economy Bill is a step back for all of us, and another shot in the foot for our very democracy; a heavy handed approach to a relatively small issue. So again, if you haven’t done so please write to your MP and let them know you simply want them to do their duty in representing you and protecting you against hastily crafted law that isn’t in your best interests. If we’re lucky then we may make sure that it is only the few uncontroversial parts of this law that make it on to the books.

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About the author
Lee is a 20 something web developer from Cornwall now residing in Bristol since completing his degree at the lesser university. He has strange dreams, a big appetite, a small flat, and when not forcing his views on the world he is probably eating a cookie. Lee blogs independently from party colours at Program your own mind.
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Reader comments


If people are willing, they should use the 38 Degrees campaign tool, as we can then keep in touch with people for the next steps of the campaign (and we know how many people have emailed their MPs – 7k so far).

The 38 Degrees campaign tool is here:

http://bit.ly/debatethebill

I’ve written to my MP, Sion Simon. Since he’s the guy tasked with shoving the bill through Parliament I doubt it’ll do any good – he’s not up for re-election so he has nothing to gain by doing the decent thing, aside from not being condemned by history, but you never know. He’s basically an ok bloke, well-intentioned I’m sure, but he’s never gone with what the guy on the street wants if it’s a choice between that & doing what the high-ups at Millbank want.

The 38 degrees tool is certainly worth people taking a look in to.

I just repeat that we need to make sure that people word the message to their MP as personally as possible. Include what concerns you specifically, and why it is a worry for you. Your MP will be much more likely to take notice.

4. Shatterface

**Excellent article**

Brilliant.

don’t agree,

you don’t go into a farmers field and take produce and should not be allowed to do the same with digital creators work without their blessing.

Its been a great free for all for 20+ years for the consumer, technology companies have built valuations into the billions off the back of it, the only losers have been creators.

About time creators had chance to defend their rights if they so wish. Many will continue to give content away, but if they don’t want to they should be able to use defensive laws as a stick to unscrupulous individuals and corporations.

lg,

The point is not that we should abandon copyright, but rather that the principle of innocent until proven guilty be retained – cutting off someone’s connection on basis of accusation rather than conviction is surely wrong?

lg: This is nothing to do with the legality or otherwise of file sharers, it’s about disproportionate legislation. It’s about taking what is arguably a fundamental right away from people without a trial, and law being made that is so vague that it can be amended at any time outside of the main lawmaking processes.

This is not a debate about file-sharing, there are plenty of ways to help discourage copyright infringement. Blanket action against groups of people that will generally be innocent based on the actions of a single individual would not be tolerated in any other walk of life, and so shouldn’t be tolerated here.

But one note. Creators DO have the chance to defend their rights, aside from the fact there is already law that allows people with proof to take individuals to court over copyright infringement (it already happens in the UK), there are also laws that would allow copyright owners to get injunctions against foreign websites. Why aren’t copyright owners using them?

The only reason is seen in this bill, because they don’t want there to be any chance of copyright holders being charged money by courts for making spurious claims that may or may not be entirely based in the legal interpretation of copyright infringement.

Whether you support filesharing or not, this bill is one that if it were being applied in the same manner with the same logic based on other actions (such as home-taping) would cause public uproar. That is undeniable.

Well if we put aside for a moment that it is clearly, legally, not an enforceable right

Are you sure about that?

The government, as I understand, has mandated that the whole of the UK, or as near as damn it, is covered with internet access. They have also stated that the speeds must be a minimum of 1.5Mbps haven’t they? They are also going to tax home phones to fund a super-fast highway, are they not?

That is government mandated policy and law – therefore making it a right by default.If it had been a matter that business had taken it upon themselves to do such you would be in a different scenario altogether, yet you are not.

The government had made it so ‘all’ have access to the internet. I would love to see this fought in a court of law. The DEB doesn’t address any of this, does it?

Will: It’s an interesting angle, but I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that the Government is sitting here thinking that internet access is something everyone should have without any questions, it’ll be a right with proviso’s, as unjust as that feels.

Lee: This is the problem with woolly-worded legislation. Also woolly-minded MPs who do not look at the bigger picture around them. If one, just one had asked the question, “Well what about the fact we have mandated that everyone in the UK has to have internet access …?”

There would have been a better debate and some would have had that ka-ching moment.

it’ll be a right with proviso’s, as unjust as that feels.

May or may not be the case. People drive cars, go to the pub, and the vast, vast majority do so without incident. Yet you and I both know that people who drive cars speed, go to the pub and will, at sometime, have some form of altercation and no one is the wiser.

You are quite correct in saying that this Bill is much like saying a jobs-worth has to be in on every conversation that any and all have, patently stupid! And you can only judge MPs by their actions in parliament – and if they don’t stop what is patently stupid what does that make them?

>cutting off someone’s connection on basis of accusation
>rather than conviction is surely wrong?

Of course – where was that ever proposed? A lot of people are spreading the myth that disconnections are in the bill, but they’ve never been in the proposed legislation, the “technical measures” the bill proposed are connection throttling or suspensions.

>Why aren’t copyright owners using them?

Because it’s extremely harsh to litigate against individuals with a full legal trial and associated costs. It’s far nicer to send them a letter asking them to stop, and if they won’t stop after asking them 3 times, slowing their internet connection down, as the bill suggests. You seem to be suggesting the ACS:Law method is the way forward, taking everyone to court. You’re in favour of major copyright legal action, but not sending people a letter asking them to stop? …and you think the Digital Economy Bill is too harsh? By opposing the bill, this is the only method rights holders are left with, sounds very liberal.

If there’s no DEB, we’ll start following your advice and just taking individuals to court to replace the lost revenue. It’ll become an anti-lottery system, where if you’re unlucky enough to get caught, you get clobbered to the tune of tens-of-thousands of pounds. Nobody wants that, but nobody wants to close their business and sack people due to falling digital revenues of increasingly popular products either.

We’ve got rid of most primary and secondary industries, if you don’t protect the Digital Economy, it will, like the rest of our industries, move elsewhere, that’s the nature of a global digital market. Did you learn nothing from the misery of Thatcher?

“Of course – where was that ever proposed? A lot of people are spreading the myth that disconnections are in the bill, but they’ve never been in the proposed legislation, the “technical measures” the bill proposed are connection throttling or suspensions.”

And what are suspensions? Let’s not get in to the most stupid of semantic arguments, there is no definition in the bill to say there is an upper time limit on suspensions. It’s weasel wording.

“Because it’s extremely harsh to litigate against individuals with a full legal trial and associated costs.”

I think you’ve misunderstood which part of the discussion we’re talking about, however, which is the issue of providing injunctions against non-uk websites. As I’ve said, already ISPs send letters of warning on behalf of copyright holders and then the individuals get taken to court if the industry decides to do so. There’s nothing to stop this practice from continuing.

“It’s far nicer to send them a letter asking them to stop, and if they won’t stop after asking them 3 times, slowing their internet connection down, as the bill suggests.”

Far nicer? It’s far nicer to inflict things upon people WITHOUT due process? Seriously? Fuck being far nicer, I’d rather have the more horrible version of the law that ensures that copyright holders have to do more than employ a legal team to send out as many accusations as their time allows.

“You’re in favour of major copyright legal action, but not sending people a letter asking them to stop?”

Didn’t say this, look at how the law already operates.

“By opposing the bill, this is the only method rights holders are left with, sounds very liberal.”

Aww, look at you. Trying to present the lack of the right to a fair trial, collective punishment, and guilty until proven innocent as a “liberal” measure. Like I said in my article, try and pull that shit on a population in the physical world and see how far you’d get.

“It’ll become an anti-lottery system, where if you’re unlucky enough to get caught, you get clobbered to the tune of tens-of-thousands of pounds. ”

Assuming you can prove that the individual you’re taking to court actually did anything wrong. In which case it may be an “anti-lottery” but it is also upholding the law in a just manner with respect to each case. Sorry if that due process feels like such a hurdle to you.

“if you don’t protect the Digital Economy”

The digital economy is protecting itself by diversifying, and pirates aren’t killing the industry, so stop scaremongering.

Have you seen this?

ukliberty: Just did, fascinating, and completely undermines some of the arguments that the digital economy bill is built upon. Along with this article the whole thing is looking like it’s built on sand.

>what are suspensions?

Temporary as opposed to permanent. You’ve made it quite clear here that the meaning of words meanings nothing to you, which is clearly why you’ve misunderstood this subject.

>WITHOUT due process?

Again, another misconception. This doesn’t override the rest of UK law, an alleged filesharer is still entitled to a trial if they choose to legally contest, or to take it to a tribunal (where they won’t have to bear costs). So their options have increased, with a “milder” path to take in addition to the current ones, but you don’t like that, as you say…

>Fuck being far nicer

I see.

>Trying to present the lack of the right to a fair trial, collective punishment, and >guilty until proven innocent as a “liberal” measure.

It doesn’t do that – you can still have a trial if you’d like. I suspect you already know this.

>try and pull that shit on a population in the physical world

Speeding tickets? Fines for dog litter? Parking ticket? There are plenty of minor social penalties in the “real word” already, which, just like this one, you can contest legally. You seem to be a proponent of full jury trials for dog poo, and then you say…

>so stop scaremongering.

You don’t care about the meaning of words, you don’t care about the substance of the bill, you’re not that bothered about making a more liberal alternative to copyright litigation, you’d rather people were taken to court and you think I’m scaremongering. Interesting.

I hear that “home sewing is killing fashion”, that sums this article up perfectly.

“Temporary as opposed to permanent. You’ve made it quite clear here that the meaning of words meanings nothing to you, which is clearly why you’ve misunderstood this subject.”

Point out where there is any protection from indefinite suspensions in the bill. There is none, and that is a problem. There is a problem, full stop, with suspension of internet service regardless of how temporary or not it is.

But the bill doesn’t define length, so the law as it’s written could for all intents and purposes allow disconnection without a known date of reconnection.

“This doesn’t override the rest of UK law, an alleged filesharer is still entitled to a trial if they choose to legally contest”

Not if they aren’t taken to court for copyright infringement in the first place.

“or to take it to a tribunal (where they won’t have to bear costs)”

that there are adequate arrangements under the code for the
costs incurred by that person in determining subscriber appeals
to be met by internet service providers, copyright owners and
the subscriber concerned
.

I still can’t believe that you’re trying to say that it is I (and the rest of those that have gone through this bill) that don’t understand it!

There is no problem, in itself, with there being a tribunal…the problem is that the tribunal comes AFTER sanctions. It is guilt put before proof, and it is not the way in which the law in this country was built, for good reason.

“Speeding tickets? Fines for dog litter? Parking ticket? There are plenty of minor social penalties in the “real word” already, which, just like this one, you can contest legally. ”

Nothing on this scale, but thanks for deflecting. There is no comparable punishment in law right now for the suspension, however long in duration, for offences offline. The nearest thing would be, as I’ve described, house arrest for accusations of taping music off of the radio without a trial having taken place to enact that punishment. How many people would support that, do you think?

“Speeding tickets? Fines for dog litter? Parking ticket? There are plenty of minor social penalties in the “real word” already, which, just like this one, you can contest legally. ”

These are all things that must be proven before punishment is issued. In the case of a speeding ticket, the proposed legislation would more or less make it such that anyone could accuse you of having been seen speeding and based on that accusation alone your car is then taken away. In the real world, you need to actually be caught using a speed detector – proof not accusation is the key.

Luke Dicken (#18):

That’s a much better analogy than any in the article or that I could come up with!

The idea of instituting punishment on accusation (rather than proof) for internet-based offences is obviously by far the most nefarious idea here – although having blogs subject to OFCOM regulation is almost as bad, given what that will probably entail.

Surely it’s obvious that this law will just result in very large numbers of people who didn’t even commit any offence needing to go to court (at their own expense) to get their internet connection back.

As for BeeTee’s argument that to do otherwise will destroy the ‘Digital Economy’ – this is very narrow minded. Sure, copyright holders might make a little more money than before.

But the fact is that this legislation will make providing internet access (ISPs, internet cafes) or internet services (websites, especially things with user-sourced content like blogs, forums, comment pages) so incredibly legally hazardous that each will have to employ an army of people to vet content, and fight any resulting legal cases – raising the cost of online services enormously and causing many to close entirely. It would be catastrophic for most of the ‘Digital Economy’.

>Point out where there is any protection from indefinite suspensions in the bill

Wouldn’t the word disconnection be more appropriate then? I’d like this defined too, and I’ve written to my MP regarding the term lengths of both sanctions; that I’d like to see these defined. That said, the bill as it stands states :

“No order is to be made under this section unless a draft of the order has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House.”

So, the terms of suspension or slowing down of access has to be defined and approved by parliament before it can be implemented. I think that’s a pretty good safeguard against indefinite suspensions, unless you think all politicians incapable of knowing what temporary means, especially as there is clear precedence in these procedures (at the ISP end).

Regarding tribunal costs, I should of qualified my sentence :

“…take it to a tribunal (where they won’t have to bear costs if they can show they didn’t do it or took reasonable steps to prevent it).”

>the problem is that the tribunal comes AFTER sanctions.

Yet you haven’t called for that to be corrected, for the appeals to be applicable to the letters stage. I agree, you should be able to appeal regarding the letters, to wipe your slate clean by proving that it couldn’t of been you.

“the proposed legislation would more or less make it such that anyone could accuse you of having been seen speeding and based on that accusation alone your car is then taken away. In the real world, you need to actually be caught using a speed detector – proof not accusation is the key.”

I’m not sure you’re adding in the 3 warnings you get for these comparable speeding tickets that say, “you’ve been caught speeding, doing this 3 times will mean we have to slow the car down”….your speeding analogy is very poor. Also, they’re accusing you of something they know you’ve done – they know that you’ve allowed illegal material to be downloaded via your connection, because you’re using their machines to do it with. So, you’re not driving your car – you’re driving theirs and they’re in the seat next to you. You can’t claim it never happened, only that it wasn’t your fault. After the first letter, you might want to think about better security if you didn’t do it. I’d want to know if someone had hacked my internet connection.

If you can show that you took “reasonable steps” to prevent other people downloading on your machine, the tribunal has to find in favour of you. Try applying that to your speeding tickets analogy.

>How many people would support that, do you think?

None…but as I’m sure you know, your analogy is completely senseless. There’s no house arrest here, it’s like getting a letter sent for home taping, and then another, and then another. If you don’t stop after 3 letters, they stop your radio for a bit or limit the amount of channels you can get. That’s the analogy to taping, not house arrest – you’ve added that in for extra fear, I can’t see how these continual distortions help the debate.

21. Alex Macfie

“Also, they’re accusing you of something they know you’ve done – they know that you’ve allowed illegal material to be downloaded via your connection, because you’re using their machines to do it with”

HOW do they “know”? From IP addresses, but these can be spoofed, so they are NOT sufficient evidence even that the computer that the IP was linked to at the time was actually USED for the allegedly unlawful downloading. And let’s not forget that ISPs’ records might not be correct. In other words, it is possible to be accused of unlawful downloading at a time when your router and computer were switched off.

“So, the terms of suspension or slowing down of access has to be defined and approved by parliament before it can be implemented. I think that’s a pretty good safeguard against indefinite suspensions, unless you think all politicians incapable of knowing what temporary means, especially as there is clear precedence in these procedures (at the ISP end).”

Unfortunately I don’t think you realise how statutory instruments work, nor how many MPs are usually present to vote on them. The reality is that a handful (maybe just two or three dozen) MPs are present for SI votes and they’re whipped to high heavens. Secondary legislation is not a safeguard, it is the illusion of a safeguard. There is no debate, there is barely any warning, it is just there, it happens and then it is done.

Also, I repeat, the legislation doesn’t say temporary. Go look again, you’ll see that it only says suspension and there is no wording the pre-ordains that the suspension couldn’t ever be permanent.

““…take it to a tribunal (where they won’t have to bear costs if they can show they didn’t do it or took reasonable steps to prevent it).””

Well that’s a non-point then, as it’s the same way the courts work.

“I’m not sure you’re adding in the 3 warnings you get for these comparable speeding tickets that say, “you’ve been caught speeding, doing this 3 times will mean we have to slow the car down”….your speeding analogy is very poor.”

your ability to read the actual wording of the bill rather than what ministers are saying is very poor. There is nowhere in the bill that it is defined there should be 3 warnings. It is entirely within the scope of this law that technical sanctions could be brought as soon as the first letter is delivered to you, or 0 warnings.

“it’s like getting a letter sent for home taping, and then another, and then another. If you don’t stop after 3 letters, they stop your radio for a bit or limit the amount of channels you can get.”

But legally the law would allow them to put you under house arrest. Why are you trying to move away from what the actual wording of the law would allow? Deflecting much?

And then you completely miss the point that the internet is used (and will be used for more in the future) as a means to find out about democratic rights, to communicate with people, to find knowledge, to learn, to play games, to work, etc, etc….By limiting your internet or cutting it off they’re not just “stopping your radio” they are stopping a significant portion of your life and your interaction with the modern world. Please don’t belittle the effect of technical sanctions on your net just because you want an overly easy and heavy handed route to be available for the music industry.

Also, how pathetic is it that you seem to think that limiting the amount of radio you could hear because of home taping would be “ok”?!

Lee

>Unfortunately I don’t think you realise how statutory instruments work

I see what sort of liberty you’re fighting for here, you won’t discuss a subject properly you just resort to playground insults like a little boy. A great demonstration of your repeated immaturity on this topic; I will happily get down on the floor and try to play at your level, just like I have to with my toddler.

>By limiting your internet or cutting it off they’re not just “stopping your radio”
>they are stopping a significant portion of your life and your interaction with the
>modern world.

LOL!! Get out much? I hear real people are nearly as good as internets now. How did we survive before broadband?! Maybe if it wasn’t your “interaction with the modern world” you’d have a broader view on this subject.

So, you’ve stolen a bunch of things, you get a letter, the last one says you’ll get disconnected if you don’t sort it out. You’re suspending yourself really if you’re that dumb, you mights as well cut the wire yourself. If it’s a “significant proportion of your life” then you’ll need to be careful about it; like, don’t drink and drive if you need your car for your job. Duh!

You think this is going to be a problem for you?

I work online, and even to me, this makes no sense at all. It’s OK to take the work of other people, it’s not OK to temporarily suspend my internets!! Great sense of liberty, I wonder how you’d feel if your logic was applied to your life and the product of your work (if you do any). As my mother used to say, “there are people starving in the world”, yet here you are spending your time defending peoples right to rip off our country and deprive it of tax revenue, during a recession. You’re cursing the ground you stand on.

…incidentally…I’d just go and work at a friend or families place, or Starbucks. Suspension would not prevent me getting online, just make it harder for a bit, but that’s fair play if I (or my family) have been robbing peoples work. The bill does not prevent access to the internet, it might suspend your home internet or slow it down. Since most people have internet access somewhere other than home, I think you’re piling on the dramatics here, and other seventies soul bands.

>there is no wording the pre-ordains that the suspension couldn’t ever be permanent.

Apart from the dictionary, which defines the word suspension as :
“3. temporary abrogation or withholding, as of a law, privilege, decision, belief, etc.”

Usually, the common lexicon defines the shared vocabulary. You’re suggesting that parliament could redefine the word suspension?

>your ability to read the actual wording of the bill…is very poor.

Like your understanding of the UK economy and how people make money in the 21st century,including a bunch of Lib Dem PPC’s, peers and MPs, who support the bill.

>There is nowhere in the bill that it is defined there should be 3 warnings.

As you may know it’s not in the bill because it’s intended to be part of the industry code that gets drawn up later and referred to in the bill, but this is before any of the bill is enforceable (12 months after ascent). So, it’s not there because the code is a separate issue, this was always intended to be the case, see the notes :

http://interactive.bis.gov.uk/digitalbritain/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/DE-Bill-Online-Infringement-Outline-Code1.DOC

…and that’s not an issue because the bill can’t be enforced without it. Unless you think Talk Talk are going to argue for tougher measures, I can’t see your problem – surely the ISPs will negotiate the most liberal policy possible, for financial reasons?

>But legally the law would allow them to put you under house arrest.
>Why are you trying to move away from what the actual wording of the
>law would allow? Deflecting much?

I don’t understand any of what you’ve written here. Where does it say in the draft of the Digital Economy Bill that they’re going to put people under house arrest? What are you talking about?

>Please don’t belittle the effect of technical sanctions on your net just because
>you want an overly easy and heavy handed route to be available for the music
>industry.

The UK music industry is the least of our worries, my concerns are for our fledgling film companies, programmers, media workers, electronics firms, etc. I’m talking about the future of the UK economy, and the lack of any protections for those industries, some of which are in serious decline. Perhaps people would take you a little more seriously if you gave some sort of plan to tackle our economic problems when attacking our economic development. This is how we lost all our economic advantages in the eighties, Thatcher made the market more liberal, prevented people from protecting UK interests, I can’t see why you’d want that for the UK digital economy.

We’re in a recession, you’re attacking legislation designed to protect our economy; you’re hacking away at your own ankles. What do you propose? Because everything you’re arguing for here will lead to higher taxation on normal people, at the expense of thieves…great plan!

Anyway, about those insults… ;)

24. Alex Macfie

> How did we survive before broadband?! Maybe if it wasn’t your “interaction
> with the modern world” you’d have a broader view on this subject.

BeeTee: What is your point here? That fast Internet only became available recently, and society functioned before its existence, and therefore it’s OK to cut people off the Internet based on UNPROVEN allegations of copyright infringement? This is a totally ridiculous argument. You might as well argue that because electricity and running water have only been universally available in the last 50-100 years (no I don’t know exactly when, and if I got it wrong please don’t pick up on that, because it isn’t the point) and society functioned fine without those things, then it’s OK to cut off a household’s electrical or water supply because someone in the household has been *accused* (NOT convicted) of shoplifting. Your argument that it’s OK cut off people’s Internet access at home because they can connect elsewhere is similarly specious. And while *you* might be able to work from, say, a cafe or a friend’s house if your home Internet was cut off, not all home-workers are similarly able to take their work wherever they wish. Many jobs, while they can be done from home, also need an office-like environment (for example, needing access to paperwork, printers or specialist equipment; privacy; assurance of a quiet environment where one can take phone calls without interruption); and many people prefer to work in that sort of environment regardless of whether it’s strictly necessary for their work.

Also you seem to think that a warning letter from an ISP means that they have conclusive proof that the recipient’s Internet connection was used to download the offending material. You are simply WRONG on this. As I noted in another post (directly in answer to your assertion) IP addresses can be spoofed (have you heard of the printer that was sent a warning notice for copyright-infringing downloading?), and ISPs can make mistakes in linking IP addresses to users (see this example http://www.aprigliano.org/2009/01/what-to-do-with-comcast-dmca-takedown.html). If we are going to have Internet disconnections as a penalty for anything (and I think it is disproportionate, especially for non-commercial copyright infringement), then the evidence that the person accused has actually committed the crime really does need to be something that should be tested in court BEFORE the penalty is applied. You mention fixed-penalty notices in an earlier post, but these are things that can be contested in a court of law before you have to pay a penny of the fine. Under the provisions of the DEB, it will only be when you find your Internet connection is cut off that you are able to appeal (if at all). By then, many perfectly innocent people will find it easier to just take the rap. If we are going to have the warning system, it needs to be possible to contest the warning, and if the user is found to be innocent, the warning struck off the record. But even that is not much good if someone’s IP address is spoofed several times in quick succession, so their Internet is cut off before they even know what’s happened.

> surely the ISPs will negotiate the most liberal [enforcement] policy possible
A fair and equitable legal framework should NOT depend on corporate goodwill, and nor should it depend on it happening to be in the interest of a particular business player. “No disconnection without trial” is something that should be enshrined in law because it is good for society as a whole.

It’s a shame, BeeTee, that you’re so extreme in your views. Every time I read your comments it’s that people opposing this bill support the lack of payment to copyright holders. It’s a shame that you have to resort to such whittling down of the complex issues of copyright, its enforcement, and the realities of combining reality with legislation.

Rather than admit you don’t understand the lack of scrutiny that goes in to secondary legislation you get all huffy like a child? Nice touch in refering to me as a toddler, I’m sure you needed that to ascertain your own moral and intellectual superiority over me in an argument where you have, so far, not been able to hold your own on a factual basis.

Take for example your using of the dictionary definition of suspension. It’s sweet that you want to trust a dictionary definition however other laws have shown that suspensions need to be given a time frame, a timeframe that can (and does in other laws) include the timeframe of “indefinite”.

At the end of the day protections are already in place for the UK digital economy. We have the ability for copyright holders to bring action against copyright infringers, and we have the ability for copyright holders to put out injunctions for service providers providing copyrighted content.

And what’s curious is that you are happy to ignore this in favour of legislation that less clears up the ambiguities of copyright law in the digital age, and more pushes the illegal activity that occurs in to less visible areas while enraging those that should be supporting your industry but instead feel betrayed by you.

But whatever, we’ll have to see where it goes. You clearly prefer to write law that replaces existing law in a manner that gives copyright holders too many powers to inflict sanctions against potentially innocent people without the appropriate checks and balances, I prefer that we look at the law and see how we can improve it to make it relevant instead.

Isn’t that just the synopsis of the whole argument though? Those of us looking to the future versus those of you trying to somehow shore up the past? :)

Hello Alex,

>IP addresses can be spoofed

This is why the legislation is targeted at ISPs, everything you say is correct, unless you’re the ISP. Previous flaws in prosecutions were because the IP addresses were obtained from the third person tapping into the connection at some point in transit (usually using the filesharing client network protocol, because they’re all pretty poor regarding security and they mostly work via other IPs connecting to an open port on your machine, which makes it really easy, but doesn’t deal with proxies), this proved amazingly inaccurate, this is why we’ve reached this point – the ISPs can’t be duped, because you’re using them to connect to servers to do the duping. You can obfuscate data at this point, but it will always be possible to reverse the data that was transferred to obfuscate/encrypt, without very much hassle/CPU/c++ at all. Hence the DEB’s focus on ISPs – it’s clearly the best evidence possible.

>ISPs can make mistakes in linking IP addresses to users

Sure, so people should be given multiple chances, over time. It’d be unreasonable to take technical measures against people on a one time occurrence that could of been a mistake. What if the neighbours were hijacking your connection? What if there’s a problem with your internet security? What if you’ve foolishly used the wireless security the ISPs provided for you? I agree – big problems. So you give them a second chance, and a third chance. You think that the ISP is going to get this wrong 4 times in a row? Or that you couldn’t control your home internet after 3 warnings? What is reasonable Alex?

I figure you’d want to know if there was anyone between you and your ISP, as that is the most sensitive connection for online security there can be. Maybe you’re not bothered, but it can be very hard to work these issues out without information from the ISP end. Personally, I’d want to know, maybe you like it how it is now.

>If we are going to have the warning system, it needs to be possible to contest the >warning, and if the user is found to be innocent, the warning struck off the record.

Sure, but again, you’re talking about the substance of the Industry Code, which hasn’t been written yet. Everything seems to be in place for what you’re talking about – surely, we all agree on this?! You’re talking about things they haven’t done yet.

>But even that is not much good if someone’s IP address is spoofed several times >in quick succession, so their Internet is cut off before they even know what’s >happened.

….exactly, which is why the code must specify time frames for these actions, and is obliged to for any of this bill to be enacted.

>it’s OK to cut people off the Internet based on UNPROVEN
>allegations of copyright infringement

You’ve made a whole heap of assumptions here on things you can’t possible know. You’ve decided which of the technical measures, you’ve decided there’s no proof and you’ve decided that suspension is equal to cutting people off the internet. You’re not in a position to assume any of these things, unless you really can see the future. The technical measures have been laid out, but not their terms of use, because that will be agreed firstly with the working committee and the ISPs, and then approved by parliament. Also, if you don’t like the terms, you have a whole YEAR to protest them.

Most ISPs have already said they’re more interested in slowing down speeds than suspension. Since the industry code is penned with them, why exactly do you assume the worst possible scenario? It’s not in the ISPs interests to lose customers.

>then it’s OK to cut off a household’s electrical or water supply because someone
>in the household has been *accused* (NOT convicted) of shoplifting

OK, you’ve written a lot here about how you don’t understand the difference between internet and power/water supply. Firstly, water and power/heat are basic to survival – they got us through the best part of the last million years of evolution. Internet is not fundamental to survival (unless you’re socially inadequate) even for people that work online. Secondly, your analogy is clearly nonsensical, what is the connection between electricity and shoplifting that exemplifies the connection between the internet and filesharing? You can still shoplift without electricity, but nobody was p2p filesharing before the internet. You’ll need an analogy with an equivalent prerequisite for it to even start to make sense. I won’t pick holes in the rest of it, as you ask, because as you know that was even more mental, but the primitives of your argument are clearly poor representations.

So, come on Alex, what would you do? I hear a lot about what’s wrong, but how would you tackle these issues? We work for years on products, they get stolen in days and that trashes our sales, unless we protect ourself with American legislation. What is so wrong with the UK economy that we can’t provide protection for our workers, when other countries can? I don’t think for a second you have a plan for the future of the UK’s economy, you’re just another person that knows what they don’t want, but not what they do.

What you’ve written is just the fear deep inside you, and says more about your relationship with society than it does the Digital Economy Bill. After a while you’ll start to think disconnection and suspension are the same thing, and then that this is a dark government/industry conspiracy to undermine your human rights. This is a classic line of thought, and can be found littered throughout the last 2100 years or so of democratic progress; we all go through it at some point.

>“No disconnection without trial”

Fine, you’re saying we should take people to court for a fair trial? After the DEB comes in, a lot of rights holders will do just that (because we can use the bill to get evidence from the ISPs), and then we’ll see which method people think is fairest. You’re saying you’d rather be taken through the courts and potentially wind up in jail/have huge fines, than get a few letters and a slower internet connection? Once we have the ISP records, we can prosecute properly, those cases will be nearly unlosable for the rights holder and you guys get your fair trial you’ve been banging on about. Everyone’s a winner?! Had you people of stopped chasing fairies around the fields, you might of noticed this and protested about it, looked for reasonable limits. Instead, you’re just getting ignored by the adults because it appears as though you’re anti any form of protection of the digital economy. I’m sure that isn’t true for a lot of you, but it’s how it seems and it makes it very hard for anyone to take you seriously, see :

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/25/org_demo_photo_album/

Just looks foolish.

___________________________________________

Lee,

>other laws have shown that suspensions need to be given a time frame

THIS IS WHAT THE INDUSTRY CODE SETS OUT. I’m not sure why you don’t understand this, it’s in the documentation that accompanies the bill. The time frames are completely necessary to use the bill, and the bill can’t be enacted without them. So, why are you still banging on about it?

>Isn’t that just the synopsis of the whole argument though? Those of us looking to
>the future versus those of you trying to somehow shore up the past?

No. It’s those of us in the present versus you guys in the past – at the moment there is no future. Did you people miss UK hip hop, d&b, grime, dubstep, etc, etc?? Are you not keeping scores here? The end has already happened for most indie scenes in UK music, now it’s the turn of the rest of digital economy. The only people that are thriving in the current music climate are the media moguls, because they market to people that don’t fileshare, but do watch TV.

The only protection the UK digital industry has is the American DMCA act. You haven’t demonstrated how the digital economy is different from any other, everything needs some form of policing (you have a virus checker, right?) and that you clearly don’t have a radical plan for the future of intellectual property, which brought us the lifestyle that allowed us to draft legislation such as the UDHR, that you’re now trying to kill it with. I’m afraid it’s your end of the argument that’s stuck in the past, with people that still think IP addresses can be spoofed to their ISP and that we have no need of the sort of economic protections we’ve afforded to most industries, online. Show me the new way, that isn’t just paid for by corporate advertising and I’ll believe you but I’ve made hundreds of digital products, under every licence available and you sound like you don’t have a clue what you’re on about.

This is an amazingly naive position for anyone out of their teens (when I was young, I thought it could all be free too – problem was that I couldn’t find a model that worked and provided the same quality of life, I lived for 3 years without money at all…sadly, it didn’t work out, maybe you can show me where we went wrong).

There’s nothing new in your argument, it’s 300-400 years old and the bottom line is you don’t have a better way of making the world work. I’ve tried it the other way, it didn’t work and I’m pretty sure you’ve never even lived valueless for any period of time (where your work doesn’t equate to your pay, and none of it is calculated using money/capital exchange). You should try it for a year or two, you’ll soon understand the deeper issues of having no-value in a society that’s still driven by capital. You just can’t have it both ways.

27. Alex Macfie

BeeTee:
Your extremely patronizing, condescending, at times sneering tone suggests an extreme intolerance of opposition to the DEB and the copyright-maximalist agenda, so I don’t expect to change your mind one iota. However, based on what you wrote in your above post, I think you have a false idea of me, based on preconceived stereotypes of opponents of maximalism.

I do not use any filesharing services, for any purpose, and certainly not for downloading (or uploading) copyright works. [I buy music.] I don’t have wireless Internet at home; I have wired-only broadband. I If I were to have wireless Internet, I’d lock it down securely. I have up-to-date security software (or use Linux). I changed the password on my router, which I switch off when I leave the flat. In other words, I considerably am more conscientious about these things than the average Internet user. I fear the DEB because even that might not be enough to prevent me being falsely accused of copyright infringement.

Yes, I do think an ISP can get it wrong multiple times, just as identity theft tends to come in multiple incidents. It is perfectly possible, for example, that a persistent error at the ISP end causes the same or similar false positives. In any case, the idea that receiving multiple allegations implies that at least some of them must be valid is contrary to natural justice, and is not how a normal court of law works. It is an incredibly sloppy approach to determing the truth of an allegation. Sure, someone can be convicted on the basis of ‘similar facts’, but even then there must be evidence in at least one case against the person that stands on its own. Guilt based solely on multiple accusations is no more acceptable than guilt based on a single accusation. Regardless of how you dress it up, you are supporting guilt upon accusation: you believe that copyright enforcement should be exempt from the usual standards of due process abnd the rule of law.

There are other points I could make (for example, you greatly over-estimate what is possible and practical in terms of user activity monitoring; and you appear to believe that it’s OK to scapegoat people when the actual downloader can’t be found; some ISPs are also content providers (Sky, Virgin) and so would not necessarily be wholly on the side of their customers) but I don’t have the time (I have a life). And like I said you’re so bigoted on this issue that there’s little point.


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