Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mixed news on copyright

There is some mixed news on copyright today. Firstly it seems that the Internet Service Providers' Association of Ireland (ISPAI) have rejected the demands of the music industry for a 3 strikes regime in Ireland, despite the recent Eircom settlement.
"This [threatened] legal action is spurious and there is no evidence of wrong-doing by Internet service providers... These actions could impact on user privacy, damage the development of new Internet services, and hurt Ireland's standing as an e-commerce hub."...

The statement added that ISPAI could not ignore the protection of privacy of user communications in Irish and European law "merely because it does not suit another private party.""
Next up the EU parliament has, according to ORG, postponed the vote on copyright term extension that was due to take place on 23 March.
"Amid intense lobbying in the European Parliament next Monday’s vote on the proposal to extend the term of copyright has been struck off in a shock move. Following a meeting of the presidents of the political groups in the European Parliament on Tuesday, and with controversy and a lack of consensus surrounding the proposal, MEPs have delayed voting till the end of April - just before this summer’s European elections. A trialogue discussion between the European Commission, Council and Parliament, set for the end of March, will now attempt to broker a deal to see if the directive will be allowed to pass.

MEPs are waking up to the reality that the proposal to extend copyright term doesn’t do what it says. It’s a terrible and unworkable instrument that will do nothing but bring copyright into disrepute in the eyes of consumers. If you’re concerned about the need for a fair and balanced copyright framework you must contact your MEPs now. Make your voice heard!

In other news this week Professor Martin Kretschmer, Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management Bournmemouth, and Horace Trubridge, Assistant General Secretary of the British Musicians’ Union, have been debating the copyright term extension proposal. Additionally copyright creators in the Association for Fair Audiovisual Copyright in Europe have launched a petition against the proposal.

But right now the most important thing is to contact your MEPs and tell them why copyright term extension is a bad idea! Use our web banners and spread the word."

Also from ORG: A Digital Rights Agency: “an industry owned, industry led and industry run body”

"Last Thursday the Open Rights Group along with many others made a submission in response to the Digital Britain Report. In that submission, we said:

This action has the potential for much harm. We call on the final Digital Britain report to
reject the idea of a ʻrights agencyʼ.

Less than 12 hours later, we found David Lammy and Stephen Carter launching a consultation into the shape of the ‘Digital Rights Agency’.

It is hard to believe that either minister had processed the responses on exactly this question in the space of twelve hours. More concerning still is the comment in this new document from Lammy and Carter that:

“fundamentally this has to be an industry owned, industry led and industry run body.”

This is precisely the problem we have with the idea of a Digital Rights Agency. Rather than working out what a legitimate and balanced future of copyright and enforcement looks like, the problem gets handed over to the people most worried about enforcement. This is what we wrote in our submission which no doubt Lammy and Carter were busy reading over breakfast:

The proposal seems to be at heart a way of extending the MoU process without a clear idea of how to resolve the underlying problems.

Overall, we doubt that a rights agency would be able to adequately reflect users and citizenʼs rights, have a tight remit and offer value for money.

We have emphasised that any agency would have to include representatives of consumer interests, so that concerns such as protection of the innocent, and preservation of privacy are given proper weight. We would not wish the role of defending customers to be filled by ISPs alone, especially as many of them are also rights holders, with conflicting business interests.

There are other key stake holders who would need to be represented, including at least Consumer Focus, UK Online Centres and the Information Commissionerʼs Office. However, because of the nature of such an agencyʼs work, we are equally sure that non-statutory groups would likely be very cautious about engaging in its work.

A rights agency we assume would be in effect a semi judicial process, with a duty to co-ordinate enforcement of sanctions below the level of court action. While there may be merit in, for instance, overseeing the nature of letters sent to consumers, there are also potential problems. A ʻrights agencyʼ could quickly be involved in inappropriate attempts define a range of sanctions below the level of court action.

A ʻrights agencyʼ could easily be a body whose functions quickly sprawl, especially under pressure from rights holders if their business models continue to change too slowly to meet market demands.

From a public perception point of view, innocent consumers would be paying through their broadband bills for the enforcement of third party rights. This doesnʼt seem like a wise option for a government looking for public consent.

You can add your own public comments on the proposal for a Digital Rights Agency here."

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