ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w03

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is the update for the week starting 2013-01-14.

Official Meetings

Jim met with LSE academics, journalists and Privacy International this week.

Peter was at the Business, Innovation and Skills meeting on 18/01/2013 about Midata discussing what risks might be associated with the sharing of data under the scheme.

Consultations and departments

Nominet .uk consultation

A number of charities and industry groups have signalled their opposition to the oppose Nominet's plans to create a .uk suffix. Following a consultation, a number of groups including the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety called for increased the safety of already existing domains rather than the creation of a new suffix. More on this can be found in January's Press Coverage.

Business, Innovation and Skills Committee: Open Access publishing

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee announced on 18/01/2013 its intention to inquire into the Government's Open Access policy relating to university research and publishing. Amongst the issues under consideration will be the different models of Open Access publishing (called 'gold', 'green', etc, by the government):

The Government's acceptance of the recommendations of the Finch Group Report 'Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications', including its preference for the 'gold' over the 'green' open access model;
Rights of use and re-use in relation to open access research publications, including the implications of Creative Commons 'CC-BY' licences;
The costs of article processing charges (APCs) and the implications for research funding and for the taxpayer; and
The level of 'gold' open access uptake in the rest of the world versus the UK, and the ability of UK higher education institutions to remain competitive.

The response deadline is 7 February 2013. The committee asks that respondees do "not to submit copies of responses to other consultations or to the Finch Report."


Culture, Media & Sport Committee

The transcript for the fifth evidence session of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's inquiry into support for the creative industries (held on 08/01/2013) has been released.

When Hargreaves was asked whether copyright structures were fit for purpose, he suggested that

it has lost contact with the way that consumers actually behave. It has therefore become confusing and detrimental to the ability to enforce it where it needs to be enforced. The disruption caused to the copyright system by the internet has affected different parts of the creative industries at different stages in time. The music industry was most grievously disrupted early. My own industry, the news industry, has been pretty seriously disrupted. The film industry has yet to experience the full scale of disruption that the internet entails. It is working its way through the system, but I wouldn’t be able to reason-which I think perhaps lies in the premise of your question-to say, "Here is an aspect of copyright that does not need to be at least re-discussed or re-examined in the light of these changes that are taking place", because the technology that is changing runs not only right across the creative industries.

He pointed out that a destruction of copyright would lead to grave losses for the creative industries. Paul Farrelly MP asked Hargreaves whether his report had been influenced in part by extensive lobbying from Google. Hargreaves refuted the suggestion. Peter Jenner spoke out in support of the consumer, stating that

I do think that we should be very mindful of not just industry but also of the consumer, the end user. It does seem to me that a lot of the copyright pressure comes from the industry, which tends to be rather conservative. You know, you tend to go on doing what you have always done. I think that one of the jobs perhaps of Government is to nudge people into the future, get them out of their comfort zone, and provide something that is of value to the consumer. The consumer will support legislation through their actions if they feel it is fair. One of the things that has been clear with the whole issue of piracy is a feeling that somehow or another it wasn’t really quite fair that if you were providing your own computer and your own broadband service you should have to pay the same as if you were going to a shop and buying a physical good. It did not feel right. I think this issue of feeling right is absolutely fundamental and the transparency helps that come through, to see what is going on, "How can I get music onto my wedding video? If I can do that easily, I will do it. If I can’t do it easily, I won’t do it, and I hope I won’t get caught and I probably won’t."

The next evidence session into support for the creative industries will take place on 22/01/2013. Witnesses include Jeremy Silver of Media Clarity, Owen Atkinson of the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society Ltd (ALCS), Richard Mollet of the Publishers Association and Chair, Alliance for Intellectual Property,Lavinia Carey of the British Video Association, and Jim Killock and Peter Bradwell of the Open Rights Group.

Government Bills

Defamation Bill

The Defamation Bill had its 3rd day in the House of Lords Grand Committee on 15/01/2013. Clause 5, which relates to website operators, was debated, with a number of Lords raising doubts over its inclusion. Lord Faulks argued that website operators found themselves in a peculiar situation, suggesting that 'it seems to be taken almost as given by those in favour of libel reform that website operators should be in a special position and separate, say, from book publishers or newspapers. The reasons for this are said to be that website operators will generally act only as a conduit and have little control over content, and that liability for defamation potentially is inimical to free speech.' As Clause 5 stands, website operators will have a defence from a claim of defamation provided that they comply with the new process. The transcript of the sitting is available here.

The committee also sat on 17/01/2013. A transcript of the proceedings is available here.

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill had its 7th sitting in the House of Lords Grand Committee on 14/01/2013. The sitting did not discuss any of the copyright clauses, but the transcript can be viewed here. The committee also sat on 16/01/2013, however, only Clause 62 and 63, which do not relate to copyright were discussed. The transcript is available here. The next sitting of the Grand Committee will take place on 28/01/2013.

Private Members Bills

Suicide Prevention Bill

The Suicide (Prevention) Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons on 25/01/2013. The Bill calls for website blocking arrangements.

Supermarket Pricing Information Bill

The Supermarket Pricing Information Bill was introduced to Parliament on 15/01/2013, sponsored by John Denham MP. It proposes that supermarkets adopt an Open Data price framework. The Bill would require supermarkets to publish pricing data on all the goods they sell in a standardised, accessible, online format suitable to enable comprehensive comparison of the price of supermarket goods by retailer, store and product, and to enable independent analysis of pricing; and for connected purposes. The second reading of the bill is scheduled for 01/02/2013.

Debates and questions

On 14/01/2013, Sheila Gilmore MP asked

the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps her Department is taking to protect children on the internet; and if she will make a statement.

Edward Vaizey MP answered

I am a co-chair of the Executive Board for the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS). Through UKCCIS Government is working to create practical and effective ways to help keep children safe online; including asking internet service providers to actively encourage parents to switch on parental controls. UKCCIS is also working with the main manufacturers and retailers toward putting in place device level solutions to filter inappropriate content and with providers of public WiFi services to automatically filter adult content on services provided directly to the public. The Prime Minister has recently appointed my hon. Friend Claire Perry MP as his adviser on the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood. She will be working with Reg Bailey, UKCCIS, and Ministers to press the internet industries to deliver universally-available family-friendly internet access which is easy to use.

On 14/01/2013, Nicholas Brown MP asked

the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the principal differences between her proposals contained in the draft Communications Data Bill 2012 and the proposals made by the previous Government under its Intercept Modernisation Programme.

James Brokenshire MP answered

There are significant differences between the proposals in the Draft Bill and the Interception Modernisation Programme developed by the last Government. We are not proposing a single Government database to store all communications data. Under our programme, the emphasis is on developing relationships with industry to determine the best solution on a case by case basis. Any retained communications data would be stored by the communications service providers themselves. This Government is committed to preserving civil liberties, and has already legislated to ensure that local authorities must seek prior approval from a magistrate before acquiring communications data.

International Developments

US Congress employees found downloading pirated content

Employees of the US Congress were found to be downloading a host of television shows and movies illegally on congressional computers. This comes from the same body that was the key driver of SOPA, the controversial US anti-piracy bill. More on this story can be found here.

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz, the prominent internet activist who campaigned for greater public access to the internet, co-founded Reddit, and pioneered an early version of the RSS feed was found dead on 11/01/2013 having apparently committed suicide. Swartz was accused of using the computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to download about 4 million academic articles from the JSTOR database, with the intention of redistributing them for free. JSTOR did not object to his actions, but Swartz was arrested and charged in January 2011 with a number of offences including wire fraud and computer fraud, which in the US attract significant penalties. More on the story can be found here.

European Union

Free Trade Agreements

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barrosso signalled the EU's intent to start negotiations for Free Trade Agreements with a number of countries including India, Malaysia and Vietnam. Meanwhile, European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht spoke of the recent moves to initiate a FTA with Thailand, with the European Commission and Bangkok undergoing a ‘scoping exercise’ aimed at defining the scope of a future free trade agreement. More on this story is available here.

Devolved Matters

Scotland: Post-16 Education (Scotland) Bill

The Education and Culture Committee held its first evidence session on 15/01/2013, and is scheduled to hold the second evidence session on 22/01/2013, which will involve higher education institutions and student associations. The Post-16 Education (Scotland) Bill would allow Ministers to create secondary legislation and to impose a legal duty on relevant bodies to share data with Skills Development Scotland on all young people between the ages of 16 and 24 moving through the learning system to identify those who have disengaged with, or may be at risk of, disengaging with, learning or training.

Law and Legal Cases

DNA Database

Men convicted of consenting same-sex behaviour three decades ago under the 'Gross Indecency' law are being chased down by police, who are demanding DNA samples. 'Operation Nutmeg,' designed to collect and store all of the individuals' DNA on a DNA database has been attacked as it lumps people who engaged in consensual activities with more violent offenders. Further information on the story is available here.

Rocknroll v News Group Newspapers

The case between Edward Rocknroll and News Group Newspapers Ltd was heard in court last week. The case relates to photographs taken of Mr. Rocknroll in July 2010, which were subsequently posted on Facebook by Rocknroll's friend. News Group wanted to publish the pictures in the Sun, however Mr. Rocknroll is attempting to restrain their publication by the Sun on the grounds that it could potentially damage his relationship with his children. News Group has been banned from publishing or copying the Photographs and from publishing or otherwise communicating a description of their contents. The judgement concluded that

In particular, its evidence that the standard terms and conditions of Facebook provide for a non-exclusive transferrable licence in favour of Facebook in respect of material accessible to its account-holders affords no basis for a conclusion that the claimant lacks the ordinary entitlement, as copyright owner by assignment, to restrain breach by the defendant. No transfer of Facebook's rights to the defendant has been alleged, and it seems very unlikely that the proprietors of Facebook would think it in their interests to do so in the future, at almost any price.

The full judgement can be seen here.

ORG Media coverage

See January press coverage for full details. The Nominet .uk story was picked up by the Telegraph and others:

Telegraph - Childrens charities oppose Nominet plan for 'secure' .uk wed addresses

ORG contact details

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