Welcome to ORG's Parliamentary update for the week 18-22 March.
On Wednesday Jim Killock and Alec Muffett, along with other groups, met with Hacked Off to discuss the impact of the recent amendments to Crime and Courts Bill intended to implement the recommendations of the Leveson Report.
Consultations and departments
On civil enforcement of intellectual property rights: public consultation on the efficiency of proceedings and accessibility of measures. The Commission are "gathering specific information on the efficiency of proceedings and accessibility of measures used in the context of civil enforcement of intellectual property rights."
Deadline: 30 March
House of Commons Justice Committee
The Justice Committee has published its report on 'The functions, powers and resources of the Information Commissioner' held on 5 February 2013. The evidence session raised several important issues the report draws to the attention of the House.
Firstly the report highlighted concerns regarding the funding of the Information Commissioner's Office:
- “at a time when its responsibilities in the field of data protection look set to expand dramatically if new EU data protection legislation comes into effect and recommendations made by the Leveson Inquiry for the ICO to take on additional functions are adopted. At the same time, the proposed EU Regulation would remove the Information Commissioner’s funding for data protection work through the notification fee payable to him by data controllers. We are concerned that his Office faces a potential shortfall of £42.8 million as a result of the Regulation, and we recommend that the Government should find a way of retaining a fee-based self-financing system for the Information Commissioner’s data protection work, if necessary by negotiating an option for the UK to retain the notification fee or introduce an alternative fee. We point out that if the Government fails to achieve this, the unappealing consequence is that funding of the ICO’s data protection work will have to come from the taxpayer.”
Secondly it addressed Lord Justice Levenson's recommendation that the Information commissioner's Office be reconstituted as an Information Commission. In response to this the report came to the conclusion that 'We are satisfied that the current corporation sole model remains the most appropriate one for the Information Commissioner.'
The report recommends that “The Government should be mindful, in its response to the Levenson Inquiry, of the finite capacity of the Information Commissioner's Office to fulfil its current role.”
Witnesses included Christopher Graham, Information Commissioner, David Smith, Deputy Commissioner and Director of Data Protection, and Graham Smith, Deputy Commissioner and Director of Freedom of Information.
Crime and Courts Bill
On Monday the government tabled some late amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill that would establish exemplary damages for publishers that did not sign up to a regulator established by Royal Charter. The scope of the definition for relevant publishers has been criticised (including [by ORG) for being wide enough to cover some classes of web publishing (e.g. blogs covering current affairs that contain pieces written by more than one author).
Several further amendments to the bill were proposed on Friday to reduce the impact on smaller publishers (e.g. bloggers) for debate next Monday (25th).
ORG has an email action to ask for websites, or news websites run by Small and Medium Size Businesses, to be excluded.
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill
During the fifth day of Report stage of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill the House of Lords amended earlier parts of the bill resulting in the copyright licensing provisions being moved to clause 79 and schedule 22.
Clause 79 lays out the regulations providing for the licensing of orphan works. For a work to qualify it is a requirement that the owner of the copyright has not been found after a diligent search has been made in accordance with the regulations. Alongside this the regulations may apply to a work even when it is unknown whether copyright subsists in it. Extended collective licensing is also discussed with it being stated that “The Secretary of State may by regulations provide for a licensing body that applies to the Secretary of State under the regulations to be authorised to grant copyright licensed in respect of works in which copyright is not owned by the body or a person on whose behalf the body acts.”
Schedule 22 Part 1 discusses 'Licensing of copyright and performer's rights', and Part 2 discusses 'Performer's rights'.
The House of Lords have returned the Bill to the House of Commons with amendments which, according to the Progress of the Bill will be considered on the floor of the House on the 16 April 2013.
Debates and Questions
Communications Data Bill Question
Pete Wishart MP (Perth and North Perthshire, Scottish National Party): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps she has taken to consult (a) the Scottish Government, (b) Scottish local authorities, (c) the Police Service of Scotland and (d) the Scottish Crime and Drug enforcement Agency on the revised draft Communications Data Bill.
James Brokenshire MP (Old Bexley and Sidcup, Conservative), in response, stated that:
'Home Office Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations and individuals, as part of the process of developing the revised Communications Data Bill. Although Communications is a reserved matter, this has included meetings with key groups in Scotland that will be affected by the Bill. Details of ministerial consultation are published on the Cabinet Office website on a quarterly basis.'
Communications White Paper Question
Helen Goodman MP (Bishop Auckland, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when her department expects to publish the Communications White Paper.
Ed Vaizey MP (Wantage, Conservative), in response, stated that:
'The Communications Paper is due to be published in the spring'
Mobile Internet Security Question
Andrew Jones MP (Harrogate and Knaresborough, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps the government is taking to ensure adequate online protection is provided on mobile devices for children who access the internet.
Ed Vaizey MP, in response, stated that:
“Through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, UKCCIS, the Government is already working with the mobile phone industry to increase the availability and awareness of parental controls on mobile handsets. Additionally, in its response to the Department for Education's consultation on internet parental controls published in December last year, the Government asked all of the ICT industries, including retailers and device manufacturers, to work together to develop universally-available, family-friendly internet access which is easy to use.
“This will build on safeguards already in place for mobile devices. In 2004, mobile network operators, through the Mobile Broadband Group, published a ‘UK code of practice for the self-regulation of new forms of content on mobiles’ (including access to internet browsing and video and picture messaging). This was further updated in 2009 to cover wider internet access (including access to further visual content, mobile gaming and chat rooms). This code requires operators to offer a filter for mobile handsets so that access to inappropriate content via the internet can be restricted. As a result, the majority of handsets sold in the UK, including all of those sold as pay-as-you-go, are sold with filters activated.”
Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 Question
Mike Weatherley MP (Hove, East Sussex, Conservative]]: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what response he made to the Regulatory Policy Committee in respect of its representations on the impact assessment of the repeal of section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 and similar issues.
Jo Swinson MP (East Dunbartonshire, Liberal Democrat), in response, stated that:
'In response to the Regulatory Policy Committee's opinion on the Government's economic impact assessment, the Government committed to consulting on transitional provisions that would seek evidence on how and when to implement the change if the repeal of section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 was approved by Parliament.
The Government also committed to producing a new impact assessment in relation to those transitional provisions.'
Harriet Baldwin MP (West Worcestershire, Conservative]]: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what assessment he has made of the involvement of small and medium-sized businesses in the national cyber-security programme
Chloe Smith MP, in response, stated that:
'Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of UK industry and as such we are taking steps to both protect businesses in general as well as fuelling the growth of SMEs in the cyber security sector through the National Cyber Security Programme.
It is estimated that the cyber security market in the UK is worth around £3 billion and is expected to grow to £3.3 billion in 2015. We recognise that Government needs to support this sector which is why we have set up a Cyber Growth Partnership with Intellect, the ICT trade organisation representing over 850 SMEs.'
Iceland says no to filtering
Iceland has abandoned attempts to introduce extreme porn filtering, according to a tweet by Icelandic MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir.
EFF launch campaign against DRM in HTML 5
European Commission Study: Music Piracy
According to arstechnica a new EU study has concluded that 'digital music piracy should not be viewed as a growing concern for copyright holders in the digital era.' Less than two weeks after an earlier study entitled 'Gone in 60 Seconds: The Impact of the Megaupload Shutdown on Movie Sales' concluded that 'movie studios sold more after Megaupload was shut down' the study states that 'Although there is trespassing of private property rights (copyrights), there is unlikely to be much harm done on digital music revenue' and that:
'This result, however, must be interpreted in the context of a still evolving music industry. It is in particular important to note that music consumption in physical format has until recently accounted for the lion’s share of total music revenues. If piracy leads to substantial sales displacement of music in physical format, then its effect on the overall music industry revenues may well still be negative.'
Law and Legal Cases
At least five of the six ISPs ordered to block BitTorrent sitee KickassTorrents, H33T, and Fenopy, complied with the (as yet unseen) orders this Thursday.
Supreme Court Ruling on U.S Copyright Law
According to the Washington Post The Supreme Court ruled in Kirtsaeng, Dba Bluechristine99 v. John Wiley & sons, Inc that 'textbook and other goods made and sold abroad can be re-sold online and in discount stores without violating U.S copyright law.' In a 6-3 opinion:
'the court threw out a copyright infringement award to publisher John Wiley & Sons against Thai graduate student Supap Kirtsaeng, who used eBay to resell copies of the publisher’s copyrighted books that his relatives first bought abroad at cut-rate prices. Justice Stephen Breyer said in his opinion for the court that once goods are sold lawfully, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere, publishers and manufacturers lose the protection of U.S. copyright law.'
According to the Washington Post:
'Had the court come out the other way, it would have crimped the sale of many goods sold online and in discount stores, and it would have complicated the tasks of museums and libraries that contain works produced outside the United States, Breyer said. Retailers told the court that more than 2.3 trillion dollars worth of foreign goods were imported in 2011, and that many of these goods were bought after they were first sold abroad, he said.'
ORG Media coverage
See ORG Press Coverage for full details.