I’ve not been following the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) as closely as I should. My opinion has probably been the same as most people’s- it’s not going to work, it’s going to make life harder for small businesses and individuals because it’s the corporations that have the lobbying power to get things done their way and there’s probably nothing I can do to prevent it.
But there are things I can do. My local MP is a Liberal Democrat, so I’m going to draw his attention to this emergency motion to be tabled at the Lib Dem Spring Conference over the weekend-
We welcome the stand of Liberal Democrat MEPs against web-blocking; specifically that, on 4 March 2010, Liberal Democrat MEPs helped the European Parliament to demand access to the negotiation texts of the secret, international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations, which were condemned on 22 February 2010 by the European Data Protection Supervisor for endangering internet users’ fundamental rights.
We note with concern amendment 120a to the Digital Economy Bill which allows web-blocking for alleged copyright infringement and which was passed on 3 March 2010 with the support of Liberal Democrat and Conservative peers;
We reaffirm the Liberal Democrat constitution commitment: “We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity.”
We believe that this amendment to the Digital Economy Bill
a) would alter UK copyright law in a way which would permit courts to order the blocking of websites following legal action by rights-holders
b) would be open to widespread anti-competitive and civil liberties abuses, as the experience with similar web-blocking provisions in the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act illustrates
c) could lead to the closure of internet hotspots and open wifi operated by small businesses, local councils, universities, libraries and others
d) could have a chilling effect on the internet, freedom of expression, competition and innovation as Internet Service Providers take down and/or block websites to avoid facing the costs of legal action
e) may be illegal under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and other EU law
a) web-blocking and disconnecting internet connections
b) the threat to the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals and businesses from the monitoring of their internet activity, the potential blocking of their websites and the potential termination of their internet connections.
c) the Digital Economy Bill for focusing on illegal filesharing rather than on nurturing creativity and innovative business models.
a) the principle of net neutrality, through which the freedom of connection with any application to any party is guaranteed, except to address security threats or due to unexpected network congestion.
b) the rights of creators and performers to be rewarded for their work in a way that is fair, proportionate and appropriate to the medium.
Conference therefore opposes excessive regulatory attempts to monitor, control and limit internet access or internet publication, whether at local, national, European or global level.
We call for:
1. All publicly-funded publications to be freely accessible under a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike licence.
2. Copyright legislation to allow fair use and to release from copyright protection works which are no longer available legally or whose authors cannot be identified.
3. A level playing field between the traditional, copyright-based business model and alternative business models which may rely on personal copying and legal filesharing.
Call 2 would have to be finessed a little. Some see the orphan works provision in the existing DEB as a licence for big media companies to plunder online archives for free material whilst paying far below market rate should the original author catch them. On the other hand, there’s a lot of material out there just begging to be rediscovered, and mashups are an artform in themselves. It’s a tricky one to get right, and I wouldn’t know where to begin.
There’s a Facebook group you can join to show support for this motion, and if you know the email address of a Lib Dem MP pass the link on.