Last Thursday and Friday Peter Bradwell took part in a conference in Venice hosted by Telecom Italia and the Financial Times, called "Rethinking the Internet: the way forward". On Monday Peter met with Ofcom to discuss the current status of the Digital Economy Act and Ofcom's ongoing research into copyright infringement.
Consultations and Departments
Cabinet Office to decide on selling off the postcode database
The Postcode Address File may be sold off as part of the privatisation of Royal Mail. There is an ongoing campaign by the Open Data User Group to keep it under public ownership. ORG has started to mobilise supporters to take action and email Francis Maude. According to the ODUG a decision is imminent.
The action is here: http://www.openrightsgroup.org/campaigns/postcode-sell-off
Cyber Security information Sharing Partnership (CISP)
The UK government has, according to V3 "launched its long-awaited Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP) to protect the country's £82bn digital economy from the threat of cyber attacks." Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude MP stated "the official launch of the scheme will help to protect the UK's growing digital economy from hackers by facilitating real time data sharing between the government and private sector."
As computing reported:
"The CISP incorporates a new virtual "collaboration environment" where government and industry partners can exchange information on threats and vulnerabilities in real-time. In addition, a "fusion cell" will be supported by government agencies GCHQ, the National Crime Agency and the Security Service; it aims to encapsulate and analyse the cyber threats facing the UK for the benefit of all partners."
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. These data will enable Commission to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the functionality of civil enforcement systems put in place in the Member States in order to improve the situation of all the actors active in the innovative sectors of European economy."
Deadline: 30 March
Communications Committee - Second Report
The Communications Committee, ordered by the House of Lords, has published its report on media convergence. Classifying media convergence as understanding how "separate types of media - such as broadcast, print and online - have merged together." the committee highlighted the need for forthcoming legislation to to be "drafted in such a way as to enable flexibility to adapt to an ever changing media environment." The report makes specific recommendations under three headings:
- Content standards with "a more coordinated approach to self-regulation be introduced in which the expectations of the UK public are clearly articulated and digital intermediaries are encouraged to meet them."
- Content creation with it being "essential that measures are taken on prominence to ensure that audiences are able to discover and access public service content easily in a converged world."
- Competition whereby it is suggested that Ofcom's competition powers are clarified.
A full summary of the recommendations made in the report can be found here
ORG's blog highlights problems with this report with specific respect to the already extensive list of regulations constraining Internet providers.
Culture, Media and Sport Committee
Following on from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee evidence gathering session on the regulation of the press an uncorrected transcript of oral evidence has been placed on the internet. The transcript "is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings."
Crime and Courts Bill Debate
On Monday the House of Lords discussed the late amendments made to the Crime and Courts Bill. With respect to the establishment of exemplary damages for publishers who do not sign up to a regulator established by Royal Charter Lord McNally urged the House to "agree with the Commons in their Amendment 11." Lord McNally raised the importance of this and related amendments as they "implement legislative parts of the Leveson cross-party agreement." According to Amendment 11 exemplary damages may be awarded when:
- (a) a relevant claim is made against a person ("the defendant"),
- (b) the defendant was a relevant publisher at the time,
- (c) the claim is related to the publication of news-related material, and
- (d) the defendant is found liable in respect of the claim
Alongside this subsection (2) preventing exemplary damages from being awarded 'if the defendant was a member of an approved regulator' may be disregarded if, amongst others "the defendant's conduct has shown a deliberate or reckless disregard of an outrageous nature for the claimant's rights,". Discussing "relevant publishers" Lord McNally draws the attention of the House to Amendment 131 'which outlines specific exclusions from the definition of "relevant publisher.":
"In referring to Lord Justice Leveson's view of the membership of a future press regulator, we have provided exclusions for a range of otherwise unrelated activities that might have been caught unintentionally. To that end, we have provided a specific exclusion for broadcasters who broadcast news-related material in connection with broadcasting activities authorised under their broadcasting licence, special interest titles, scientific or academic journals, public bodies and charities, company news publications and book publishers."
With respect to how the legislation could affect small- scale bloggers it is argued that "this is reflected in some of the amendments before us, and includes the suggestion that there may be a case for making an express exemption in respect of small-scale blogs in the new schedule inserted by Commons Amendment 131." See ORG's assessment of the House of Lords amendments here
The House of Lords have returned the Bill to the House of Commons with amendments. According to the progress of the Bill "The amendments will be considered on the floor of the House on 16 April 2013."
Debates and Questions
Iain Wright MP (Hartlepool, Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 12 March 2013, Official Report, column 173W, on copyright, which representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises he has met to discuss the regulatory effect of the modernising copyright proposals in the last year; if he will publish the (a) agenda and (b) minutes of any such meetings; and whether the issue of increased costs of litigation as a result of the modernising copyright proposals was discussed at such meetings.
Jo Swinson MP (East Dunbartonshire, Liberal Democrat), in response, stated that:
"Ministers in this department have met a range of stakeholders, including representatives from the creative industries, on a number of occasions to discuss copyright issues including the Modernising copyright proposals. A range of issues of interest to the relevant stakeholders were discussed. The Government has no plan to publish the agenda or minutes of these meetings. The Government has introduced measures to reduce the costs of litigation on intellectual property issues through the Patents County Court, including caps on costs and damages and a new small claims track for simple cases."
Databases: Telecommunications Question
David Davis MP (Haltemprice and Howden, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what capital expenditure has been undertaken since May 2010 as part of the Communications Capability Development Programme.
James Brokenshire MP (Old Bexley and Sidcup, Conservative), in response, stated:
"I refer my right hon. Friend to my answer of 13 February 2013, Official Report, column 757W."
Communications Data Bill (Draft) Question
Naomi Long MP; To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultations she has with (a) the Northern Ireland Executive, (b) local authorities and (c) the Police Service of Northern Ireland on the provisions of the revised draft Communications Data Bill.
James Brokenshire MP, in response, stated that:
"Home Office officials have had meetings with a variety of organisations and individuals, as part of the process of developing the revised Communications Data Bill. Although Communications Data is a reserved matter, this has included meetings with key groups in Northern Ireland that will be affected by the Bill."
Digital Economy Act 2010 Question
Therese Coffey MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of effects of the delay of the implementation of the Digital Economy Act 2010 on investment in UK content businesses.
Ed Vaizey MP, in response, stated that:
"The Government is aware that copyright owners have asserted that the cost to investment in UK content businesses resulting from the delayed implementation of the Digital Economy Act 2010 (DEA) is significant. The Government has not undertaken its own assessment.
The Government is committed to implementing the online infringement of copyright provisions of the DEA but it is important to take time to ensure it is implemented property. Meanwhile, we continue to work with industry and the enforcement authorities in areas such as payment facilitation and online advertising in order to make online piracy less profitable for sites which exploit copyright infringement for criminal advantage. I am pleased to see that the UK's creative industries continue to thrive in a challenging environment, and that globally recorded music has turned the corner, with the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) reporting growth in recorded music sales in 2012, the first time sales have grown since 1999."
Spain targets advertisers to crack down on piracy
The Spanish government is taking positive steps to crack down on piracy by proposing a new law which would include sanctions against companies paying to advertise on pirate sites. The Sinde Law' which was passed in 2011, according to Yahoo "resulted in few closures of websites". Education and Culture Minister Jose Ignacio Wert was quoted saying the idea was to enforce "a philosophy of going after large-scale distributors of illicit material." The new "Lassalle law" is "open for public consultation for the next two to three months. It will then be subject to review and will be presented to parliament for approval later in the year."
ORG Media coverage
See ORG Press Coverage for full details.