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[Archived] This Website (And Others Like It) Are Under Serious Threat From A New Bill Being Rushed Through Parliament

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Those of you that follow me on twitter or facebook or anywhere else will know that I've spent the last few weeks banging on about what an affront to democracy the Digital Economy Bill is, but it dawned on me, if it becomes law (there is still time to stop it), any site where users are allowed to add their own content (i.e. forums, youtube, wikipedia, myspace, facebook etc) only needs to be ACCUSED of copyright infringement 3 times before ISPs can be asked to block it.

Now, over the years despite our best efforts to police it and to educate you guys on what it's acceptable to add, we've had numerous legal threats over copyright, some fair (normally where an unknowing user will cut and paste something to the forum from another site) and some not (we've had legal threats from other news outlets for stealing their content from press releases sent to both of us), but the important thing is under the new law, it's not three prosecutions for copyright infringements, we only need to be accused. It simply wouldn't be viable to operate a forum under those conditions.

There are some other nasty clauses in there, at a personal level, if you personally are accused of copyright infringement three times you can lose your net connection that scares the hell out of me, do YOU check the copyright ownership of EVERYTHING you download?

The same rule will also put an end to free wifi in pubs, hotels and cafes as they too can be cut off because of the actions of their users.

There is a lot more controversy behind the bill. It seems that certain clauses where taken directly from suggestions written by the BPI (British Phonograph Industry, the people who want to prosecute you for downloading copyrighted music) and a leaked memo from the BPI says they are trying to push this bill through in a period before the election known as "wash up" where bills get passed without debate (effectively both sides start a "if you don't oppose this, we won't oppose that" system of horse trading) they state it's essential to avoid debate! Peter Mandleson has already said he expects this to be "fast tracked" during Wash Up.

The good news is, there has been a huge amount of grass roots action on this and MPs are starting to take note (I know the MP for Accrington has responded to some of the people that have written to him, but Colin Challen, MP for Morley & Rotherwell has yet to respond to me) but we still need much much more. If this bill is snuck through unchanged then the internet we know it will change forever, we'll all be sat only able to view websites the government wants (don't tell me sites like wikileaks wont suddenly vanish), you'll only be able to connect via the ISPs that can afford to monitor your content and you'll be living in fear of clicking that badly described link to something your mate has sent in case it happens to download something copyrighted and you lose your net access.

So. What can YOU do ?

Firstly don't take my word for it. Check out the articles on the bill.









Next. ACT !

Firstly, make your MP aware. Over 10,000 people have written to their MP over the last few days, but some are still viewing this as a vocal minority of music thieves rather than people who care about the internet and democracy.

There are a number of ways to make them aware. The easiest is to go to


They'll find your MP for you and provide you with a template email that they can send in your name (although I urge you to modify, extend and personalise it and it'll carry much more weight).

Even better go to


and find your MP's address and send them a letter (that carries even more weight)

Also http://www.openrightsgroup.org are organising protests and of course, the best thing you can do it tell everyone, to make it impossible to have this swept under the carpet.

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I was going to post a very similar post about this.

I think the scariest part of the bill is that want to get in a clause (clause 17 I believe) about the Government being able to change this particular law at any point in time to suit thier 'needs' without it having to go through Parliament and the normal channels.

Basically it can charge people as guilty without even the opportunity to prove innocence. They will be able to turn off your internet connection with such weak evidence it would never come close to standing up in a criminal case. This is a good analogy from a blog I read:

"“Alright, we know you were in WH Smiths when someone nicked the packet of smarties.. we going to take your car keys to make sure you never visit the shop again just in case!”"

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The entire bill is such a mess that it needs reworking from the ground up. The Lib Dems did try (with the introduction of clause 18) but ended up making it worse, thankfully they did acknowledge it and are now also back the campaign to get it some full debate in the commons rather than passed as it is.

The important thing for people to realise is it's not just file sharers shouting "don't cut off my internet for stealing music" as the government/BPI are trying to spin it, but in fact it's both a major threat to the internet as we know it and an affront to democracy as a whole.

The BBC did a great write up of the bill and it's changes here


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A bill that after six months will see the number of internet subscriptions fall by 50%-anything up to 99%?

Sometimes you just have to wonder who on earth thinks up these ideas? Absolute uproar would surely ensure shortly after this bill is passed?

There is already similar legislation in France, but apparently they are quite lenient, though from what I'm aware they're still smoking in Paris, so that example is probably not of any use to us.

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For the past few years this government have taken away the rights of so many people, we are in meltdown, a total nanny state close to dictatorship.

If we pay our taxes, surely we should have some say, though it apears as though we have just to do as we are told.

The problem here is, Ticketless Airlines, sales over the internet etc will disappear as there wont be enough users and it will only be a while before the pirates find another way of getting music and making copies etc.

This has not been thought out properly at all, which with this government doesnt surprise me at all!!

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The problem with most bonkers legislation like this is that it's intentions are good, it's just not been thought through which leaves it open to abuse. The government will say that it won't be abused in these way, but tell this to the photographers that keep getting locked up under anti-terror laws.

The intent of the law as it stands is fine. I have no problem with people who knowingly infringe copyright being punished, but we already have a system that allows for that, it's just not swift enough and cheap enough for the film and music industries, they want this annoying hurdle of PROOF removing.

Normally bonkers legislations gets debated, amended, updated and modify as it progresses through parliament, to remove the potential for abuse. However, it seems certain parties are trying to prevent this.

That's why writing to your MP helps, they may not feel confident arguing the technicalities of the case, but they will at least see that there is enough public backlash that it needs debating, not just sliding through during wash up.

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The other consequence for everyone is that internet prices will go up. ISPs are likely to have to fork out in the region of £500m to be able to enforce this tracking system and well they're not going to foot the bill are they?

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As worrying is the "bill" which is likely to passed if the conservatives get in.

They receive a lot of support from Murdoch who wants to limit what sites like the BBC can publish. Why? He believes it is an unfair advantage that they can publish such a wide array of free information at their disposal. He wants a much reduced offering from the likes of the BBC website so we have to pay to get info off his variuos media offerings.

Greedy whores the lot of them.

The conservatives will not have a choice in passing such a bill as they need his ££££££'s.

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That's why writing to your MP helps, they may not feel confident arguing the technicalities of the case, but they will at least see that there is enough public backlash that it needs debating, not just sliding through during wash up.

No point writing to my MP, David Borrow for South Ribble. I've wrote to him on a far more important subject [not that this isn't important], and it's been a complete waste of time.

Disgusted with the guy.

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No point writing to my MP, David Borrow for South Ribble. I've wrote to him on a far more important subject [not that this isn't important], and it's been a complete waste of time.

Disgusted with the guy.

A rather disgusting guy all round then. :glare:

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This afternoon, Richard Mollett, Director of Public Affairs for the BPI has said there "there is no further need for debate".

Really ? What does he have to lose by debate ? Oh, that's right, people might actually notice the lunacy of what he's proposed and the fact that the only people it will benefit is the BPI !


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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been somewhat sidetracked campaigning about this to update this thread.

Sadly, the bill passed it's second reading yesterday (despite several MPs saying they acknowledged the bill was horribly flawed, but were obligted to follow the party whip and vote in favour of it).

This evening, after just 2 more hours debate (skipping what would normally be 50hrs+ at the committee stage) it will no doubt become law.

There were a few stand-out MPs yesterday who opposed it, Austin Mitchell and amazingly John Redwood being among them.

One of the most worrying aspects was that a contentious bill that was in the top ten things talked about on twitter (known as trending) worldwide ! (not just the UK), only 40 MPs voted, there were normally only 19 MPs in the chamber and only 10 bothered to stay for the full duration of the debate.

Some links of intrest

An excellent open letter to those who voted in favour yesterday - http://nevali.net/post/501647501/an-open-letter-to-sion-simon-pete-wishart-david

Austin Mitchell's Early Day Motion (get your MP to sign this, even if their party wont let them vote against the bill) - http://www.edms.org.uk/edms/2009-2010/1223.htm

The Open Rights Group's current front page sums up where we are - http://www.openrightsgroup.org/

YouTube Wash Up Mash Up "Creativity is the Enemy" entertaining remix of sion simons nonsensical speech yesterday -

Once again Lillian Edwards has done an excellent blog on yesterdays events. http://blogscript.blogspot.com/2010/04/deb-2nd-reading-hc-few-musings-on-party.html

The bill explained via the methaphor of banana ice cream - http://bit.ly/aq8fDB


Details of their phone number http://www.theyworkforyou.com

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