I feel helpless & pissed off, this is extremely unusual!

I write this at 20:37 on Friday 4th December 2009 — For me this has been the toughest and most unproductive week of this year – my mind is elsewhere… — I’m frustrated and extremely concerned that very few (Designers, Developers, Freelancers, Bloggers, General Public,…

I write this at 20:37 on Friday 4th December 2009

For me this has been the toughest and most unproductive week of this year – my mind is elsewhere…

I’m frustrated and extremely concerned that very few (Designers, Developers, Freelancers, Bloggers, General Public, Politician’s etc) seem to recognize a major problem looming above us – in addition to that of next weeks Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

I urge you, please do your own research into the proposed Digital Economy Bill – trust me, its a big deal and it needs to be stopped!

Its likely The Bill will be passed by the House of Lords on the 16th of December, and it’ll be heard in the House of Commons on the 6th January.

Please help spread this message in any way you can! Things you can do:

Add a Twibbon to your Twitter Profile
Write & Promote a blog post and Tag it with #debill or #DigitalEconomyBill
Contact or Write To Your MP < this is the most important! MPs need to be aware of the problems!



Leave a comment  •  3 comments

Stephen Bartholomew

You're clearly frustrated, but there's an issue here in that you're assuming people are not taking action because the either don't care or can't be bothered.

The truth for me (and I'm sure others) is that I can't see the significance of Section 17. I've read a lot of blog posts including yours and Toggle's and the open letter from facebook etc as well as Section 17 itself, and I'm having a hard time understanding how it applies to web innovation.

What I can see is a questionable power allowing the government to change the action taken against a person based on a context that may or may not currently exist. It's explicitly stated that no new crimes can be created nor existing crimes modified and any permanent change must be agreed by by both houses of parliament. From what I've read, a 'Statutory Instrument' is also a guideline and not law.

Don't get me wrong - I *really* want to get behind you on this but I'm not intelligent enough to understand the impact it's going to have. This makes it impossible for me to fight the corner as any letters, emails or advocation *I* do would be shallow copies of other people's opinions without true understanding. This wouldn't help anyone.

You are clearly an advocate for the campaign against this, but please don't be surprised if not everyone can see what you see. I appreciate that it's not your job to explain these things to everyone, but if you understand it, please enlighten the rest of us. I want to believe!


Scott Evans

I can understand that. I will do my best to explain how I see it. This paragraph was taken from the letter written by Google, Ebay, Facebook and Yahoo to Peter Mandelson:

"In particular, we believe the bill's clause 17 – which gives any future secretary of state unprecedented and sweeping powers to amend the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 – opens the way for arbitrary measures. This power could be used, for example, to introduce additional technical measures or increase monitoring of user data even where no illegal practice has taken place."

Its difficult with that part of the bill because its not clear what "will" happen. We can only speculate what "might" happen. The big concern is that if they are free to change the law regarding Internet copyright at any time then It could have a negative impact on future technology. Lets say you created "MEGA-I-API-WEB-3" a new data exchange protocol for web applications (built in ruby of course). If that technology could be used to infringe copyright - then it could be made illegal, regardless of the positive impact it could have. That is a bit of a worry, especially when the Government can be so heavily influenced by the businesses that fund them.

A good example of our backwards copyright law is that it is illegal to sing happy birthday in public without a license. I want to see this kind of thing disappear. Human progress depends on sharing ideas not protecting them for profit.

If section 17 is a bit fluffy. There is something else worth looking at in the BIll. That is the "3 strikes rule". Your internet connection can be disconnected if you are seen to infringe copyright 3 times. This opens a very dark door. How will this be monitored? What if your using an open network? What if your downloading a Linux ISO through BitTorrent? What content is copyrighted? What happens if your wrongly accused? Who polices it? Would watching/creating this YouTube video count as copyright infringement? That seems quite a scary prospect to me.

And finally if you believe that internet connectivity is a right and not a privilege (you may not) then its easy to see that this is a step in the wrong direction. We use the Internet for everything (banking, shopping, research, protests, entertainment, chat....) and to be able to take that away from people is wrong.

Thanks for reading our blog post (and this long comment) - the video on Ted at the bottom of our post is well worth a watch if you have time.


Stephen Bartholomew

@Scott: I think you highlighted the biggest problem here. It's not clear what this means. From what I gathered Section 17 doesn't actually give powers to amend copyright *law*, although I'm guessing Facebook et al have people far more versed in these matters than me :0)

As for copyright in general, completely agree that it's currently insane. I'm glad to see that new generations of content producers are starting to pick up on a different way of doing it, but it's going to take time before it becomes the norm.

The 3-strikes rule is completely ill thought-out as far as I can tell. Even if you do agree with copyright, this rule is unworkable. In most cases, the wrong people would be punished.

Thanks for posting. It's all beginning to have some sort of form in my head. I'll check out the TED talk tonight.