Labour & Digital

Labour & Digital

Trefor Davies of commissioned and published an article by me on the state of the politics of digital and its likely impact on the General Election. In the article I classify the issues around citizenship and economics. Obviously the manifesto has not been published and so prediction of its content is not easy. Regular readers will know that I am a supporter of both the Open Rights Group and Privacy International. I have also served on NESSI, the EU’s internet/I.T. R&D project incubator.  I am hopeful on the issues of citizenship, unsure on copyright and intellectual property laws and expect a good offer on digital government.

Is piracy really the most important issue facing the creative industries

Is piracy really the most important issue facing the creative industries

Today, Parliament released the “Culture” select committee’s report “Supporting the Creative Industries”. The headline pursued by most media outlets is that Google’s efforts to limit copyright infringement by its ‘users’ is, to quote the committee chairman, John Whittingdale, “derisory”.  This is reported by Computing, which extends Whittingdale’s quotes which demand further action from Google which is erroneously singled out as the single largest source of piracy and thus the single largest source of damage to Britain’s creative industries. Peter Bradwell of the ORG, and Paul Bernal of UEA cover the report and its impact, in Peter’s case on the ORG Blog, in an article called, Culture Committee copyright report one-sided and simplistic and in Paul’s case on his blog in an article called, Supporting the creative economy?. The ORG verbal evidence to the committee is available as a video here…, on Parliament TV. Enjoy the show and Peter’s persistant return to statistics and facts

Get your own facts

I bumped into Joan Ruddock, the Labour Party incumbent candidate for Lewisham Deptford last Tuesday, so of course I asked her about the DE Bill. She listened and was interested in my views and invited me to continue the conversation. Just goes to show, for those to whom this is important, you need to find out your candidates views. It may not be good enough to read the party manifestos or study their votes. I know of several MPs who didn’t vote on the 3rd reading but who clearly oppose it although I can’t say why they didn’t vote. There were 23 Labour MPs, 18 Lib Dems and 5 Tories who voted against the third reading.

A week’s a long time in politics

The Bill becomes an Act

Just over a week ago, the Digital Economy Bill got its 3rd reading, and according to “Computing” got its Royal Assent  on the 9th April. I watched the 2nd & 3rd reading debates on with Tweetdeck open. Others have commented on how helpful having crowd sourced commentary was, which I have to agree with and also how disappointed they were that most MPs weren’t in the chamber to hear the debate. Twitter certainly enhanced my understanding and enjoyment of the debates, which were rather spoiled at the end by the tiny vote in favour of the Lib Dem amendment and then against the 3rd reading. On the good side, I have been pleased to ‘meet’  some new twitter correspondents, however I had to turn it off at work for the rest of the week. Unlike contracted musicians with royalty based earnings, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid and I found it too distracting.

Real Copyright Reform

The Inspiration

Today’s copyright law in the US and the UK only serves the interests of a minority of participants in the creative industries and the knowledge economy. The debate in Britain about the Digital Economy Bill is actually trying to avoid confronting whether the UK and by implication the World’s intellectual property law framework is fit for the 21st Century.  Jessica Litman at the University of Michigan’s Law School has published a paper called Real Copyright Reform, see the Abstract & Download, in which, among other things, she argues there are four roles, and its her paper that inspired my blog snip, Copyright Stake Holders, dated 30th March, and that copyright law needs to serve a balanced interest of all participants. (Interestingly she misses the interests of non participants).

Against the DE Bill again

Yesterday afternoon, I posted some of my current thoughts on the Digital Economy Bill at This is I believe a Labour Party members only site and the article hopes to provoke Labour Party members and supporters into campaigning to see this bill defeated or amended.  It’s still on the front page so if you want to catchup with my thinking, check it out, especially if you are a Labour MP.

Wifi and academic freedom

One of the, some would claim unintended, consequences of the DE Bill debate is the fear that public wifi will become impossible. A number of public sector organisations including many Universities, but also hospitals and public libraries are becoming concerned that their current policy of offering free or cheap unauthenticated access to wifi will open them to suit by rights holders or their agents if their nomadic, or mass user base decide to behave in such a way as to incur the attentions of rights holders or their agents.  The Government are proposing to give these organisations no protection against the provisions of the DE Bill.

Against the DE Bill

I went over to Westminster earlier this evening to participate in the Open Rights Group’s demo against the Digital Economy Bill. We had a number of speakers from across the political spectrum. I think there’s a growing realisation in the House of Commons that they can’t leave it to the Lords and the Lobbyists.

It’s a long time since I have been on a demo; I was trying to work out what my last one was.

Panorama and the DE Bill

So, just seen the Panorama article,”Are the Net Police coming for you?”. Interesting! Only Billy Bragg has it right.

Capitalism is killing music.

It’s like confiscating your record players and complaining you aren’t buying music

Music is thriving, it’s the record industry that’s dying on its feet.

The Panorama URL is a BBC iplayer address and so may become unavailable 7 days after its publication. He didn’t say Capitalism is killing music in the show, he said it elsewhere.

Perhaps it’s not so bad

Paul Carr in his column on TechCrunch, wrote an interesting and balanced article on the DE Bill. He argues that, the law is not that bad but that

  • businesses should not be disconnected, only fined and only if it can be proved they have colluded,
  • site filtering should be replaced by borrowing from the US DMCA by implementing take down notices and rights holders and their agents should be fined for vexatious behaviour
  • there isn’t a rush, speedy law is usually bad, this can wait ’till after the election but most importantly ’till after a proper debate