ORG parliamentary and policy update/2013-w21

< ORG parliamentary and policy update

This is ORG's Parliamentary Update for the week beginning 19/05/2013

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Official Meetings

Woolwich attack followed by calls for the return of the Communications Data Bill

In the wake of the Woolwich attack political pressure has been mounting calling for a revival of the Communications Data Bill. According to the Guardian Lord West of Spithead, stated:

"The communications data bill is absolutely crucial. We may find the information we need on these mobiles is not there. It was meant to be in the Queen's speech. David Cameron and the home secretary both quite rightly wanted it, but the deputy prime minister said no and that is putting the country at risk."

Calls for the reintroduction of the bill have faced criticism from civil liberties organisations with Liberty describing it as a "Knee-jerk legislation" which will "not make us safer, only harm our freedom."

Read ORG's response here

Consultations and departments

National Pupil Database

As The Register notes the government still "plans to widen the usage of data held in the NPD, which includes information about a child's education at different stages of development." The government has responded to a public consultation on the proposed amendments to the Individual Pupil Information Prescribed Persons Regulations, changing the wording of "some of its more contentious plans." Following on from concerns expressed by privacy activists officials responded stating:

"Whilst the majority of responses indicated support for the proposal (with the caveat of accompanying rigorous data safety controls) a significant minority were strongly opposed to the proposed amendment. These respondents believed any potential benefits were outweighed by concerns about data-security and the potential misuse of personal information."

Following on from this it was stated that:

"Following the consultation the department has decided to broaden the sharing of data from persons 'conducting research into the educational achievement of pupils' to 'persons who, for the purpose of promoting the education or well-being of children in England are - conducting research or analysis, producing statistics, or providing information, advice or guidance, and who require individual pupil information for the purpose.'"

The amended regulations will be laid before Parliament later this month.


Culture Media and Sport Committee

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee conducted its fourth evidence gathering session regarding the regulation of the press. According to the Committee "Members will have the opportunity to question representatives of the local and regional press about their views on the recommendations made by L J Leveson, as well as assess the current financial situation for local and regional press."

Witnesses included David Newell, Director, and Adrian Jeakings, President, Newspaper Society, David Montgomery, Chairman, Local World, Ashley Highfield, CEO, Johnston Press plc and Christopher Thomson, Chief Executive, DC Thomson & Co Ltd.

Government Bills

Intellectual Property Bill

Second reading of the Intellectual Property Bill took place on the 22 May. Moved by Viscount Younger of Leckie the aims of the bill were set out as:

"to simplify and improve design and patent protection to help businesses, and in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises; secondly, to clarify the intellectual property legal framework; and, thirdly, to ensure that the international IP system supports UK businesses effectively."

With respect to Clause 19 the introduction of greater exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act regarding pre-publication research was discussed. Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe, endorsing the provisions, noted that the "Clause 19 provision is a carefully worded and limited exemption that will be available for use in certain limited circumstances." Discussing competition:

'Universities UK has examples of academics who received FOI requests relating to ongoing research from people who they believed to be their academic competitors. Queen Mary, University of London, had a case where research data was requested while the analysis was still being undertaken. They feared that releasing the data would lead to their losing the chance to publish their own results in respected journals. Like all universities, it pointed out that publications are vital in the assessment of quality as part of the research excellence framework, and of course in attracting future funding."

Alongside this the introduction of criminal sanctions for the deliberate copying of a UK or EU registered design was mentioned with it being argued that "This will create a coherent approach to enforcement and protection and also recognises that the creativity of design is as important to the UK economy as music protected by copyright and brads protected by trade marks.

With respect to 3D works the question was raised as to whether "the Bill would mean that 2-D works would be treated differently from 3-D works."

According to the Progress of the Bill "Committee stage - line by line examination of the Bill - is scheduled to take place in Grand Committee on 11 June."

Debates and questions

Public Libraries: Copyright Question

Dan Jarvis MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she is taking to ensure that local authorities properly reward writers and creators for the use of their works in lending e-books and audio books via public libraries in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Ed Vaizey MP, in response, stated that:

"It is the responsibility of library authorities to reach appropriate agreements with non-print rights holders or with other parties on behalf of those rights holders in order to license the lending of their non-print works."

Databases: Telecommunications Question

Julian Huppert MP: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the money spent on the Communications Capabilities Development Programme has been paid to service providers under the cost recovery system to date.

James Brokenshire MP, in response, stated that:

"The Communications Capabilities Development Programme funds communications service providers for the delivery of Communications Data (CD) and Lawful Intercept (LI) capabilities. The vast majority of the programme expenditure to date has been on CD and LI delivery under existing legislation, including payments to communications services providers, law enforcement training and programme costs."

Internet: Curriculum Question

Dan Jarvis MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will make lessons on online safety and responsible use of social networking sites part of the national curriculum.

Elizabeth Truss MP, in response, stated that:

"We recently consulted on proposals for the new national curriculum for computing. For the first time, this will require pupils aged five to 11 to be taught how to communicate safely and respectfully online, and to use technology responsibly, securely and safely. The final version of the new national curriculum will be published in the autumn and will be taught from September 2014."

International Developments

Chinese military unit resumes cyber attack on US business

As V3 notes "A Chinese hacking team responsible for attacks on numerous US companies has resumed its harmful cyber campaign." As the New York Times reports:

"Three months after hackers working for a cyberunit of China's People's Liberation Army went silent amid evidence that they had stolen data from scores of American companies and government agencies, they appear to have resumed their attacks using different techniques, according to computer industry security experts and American officials."

The team is thought to be the same as the one detailed in a report from Mandiant, "a private security company that helps companies and government agencies defend themselves from hackers", published earlier this year. Mandiant:

"claimed to have linked a branch of the Chinese military codenamed Unit 61398 to the APT1 cyber-espionage campaign in February. The unit is based in shanghai and is estimated to have mounted attacks on over 141 companies."

The Report, confirmed by American officials, states that the hackers were behind scores of thefts of intellectual property and government documents over the past five years" having "stolen product blueprints, manufacturing plans, clinical trial results, pricing documents, negotiation strategies and other proprietary information from more than 100 of Mandiant's clients, predominantly in the US."

Sophos security expert Graham Cluley told V3 "while news that the team has resumed its activities is troubling, firms should not overreact, as attacks of this nature are now an everyday occurrence, with nearly every government in the world mounting similar campaigns."

Russia signs international data protection convention

On the 15 May, as New Europe states "Russia reinforced its commitments to the protection of personal data" by ratifying the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data. The Convention, "which is the only legally binding international instrument in its field, is open to any country and has the potential to become a global standard." As stated in Article 1:

"The purpose of this convention is to secure in the territory of each Party for every individual, whatever his nationality or residence, respect for his rights and fundamental freedoms, and in particular his right to privacy, with regard to automatic processing of personal data relating to him ("data protection").

Concretely, "Convention 108" ensures individual's personal data protection and prevents the abuse of such information. Russia's treaty will enter into force on 1 September and will become the 46th state to be a part of the convention.

Full list of Member States available on

Center For Copyright Information Status Revoked

The Center for Copyright Information, known for implementing the "six strikes" plan has, according to uproxx had its status as a company revoked. As Torrent Freak notes:

"The CCI, who are leading the "six strikes" anti-piracy scheme in the US, has violated state laws and is unable to conduct any official business anywhere in the United States. In addition the outfit faces civil penalties and risks loosing its name to a third-party company."

The revocation means that "cci's articles of organization are void, most likely because the company forgot to file the proper paperwork or pay its fees." However as with any other company "CCI will be able to have it company status reinstated after fulfilling its obligations."

European Union

Lescure Report on Cultural Exception

On Monday 13 May Pierre Lescure, as the 1709 Blog states, "issued his long-awaited report to the French government on Act II of the Cultural Exception." The following recommendations are included in the report:

  • Creation of an obligation to digitally exploit copyright protected works (incumbent upon assignees and licenses of such works).
  • Adapt the so-called media chronology rules (windowing) so that SVOD services can offer films 18 months after their release.
  • Harmonise VAT rules so that no distinction is made between physical copies and intangible electronic versions of cultural products.
  • Implement mandatory collective management of producers' neighbouring rights in sound recordings in the field of on-line music services (in the event that a last-ditch attempt at negotiations fails).
  • Implement a 1% tax on connected devices (which will initially complement but utlimately merge with the private copy levy).
  • Transfer HADOPI's graduated-response powers in the realm of P2P piracy to the CSA (French audio-visual watchdog) and abolish the final third strike of internet access being cut off (to be replaced with fines). On Sunday May 19th the Minister of Culture confirmed that she was adopting this recommendation.
  • Shift focus of anti-pracy action to large-scale for-profit piracy, bringing a follow-the-money approach to bear (actions against financial intermediaries).

Full report (in French) available on

Devolved Matters

Law and Legal Cases

Osha Liang LLP: Architectural Copyright Case

A federal District Court has awarded, according to PRNewsire "$1.3 million to a Texas design firm in an architectural copyright case." Houston-based Hewlett Custom Home Design, Inc. claimed that Frontier Custom Builders, Inc. "infringed Hewlett's copyrighted designs in violation of federal law." The jury in the U.S. District Court in Houston found that Frontier had infringed Hewlett's copyrights in "designing, constructing and marketing 19 houses" while Frontier's owner, Ronald Wayne Bopp. "was also held personally liable for Frontier's activities." According to the 1709 Blog:

"The damages were based on the profits Frontier had earned from the sales of houses and the court also ordered the destruction of infringing materials in Frontier's possessions. Shane Hewlett, the principle of Hewlett custom Home Design Inc., said 'I am extremely gratified that the jury vindicated our position and acted to help protect our intellectual property and the designs we proudly provide to our clients.'"

Louis Bonham of Osha Liang LLP, acting on behalf of Hewlett, stated "Misappropriation of copyrighted building designs is a serious problem in the homebuilding industry and has been for years."

This decision marks the second seven figure judgement in an architectural copyright case. In 2012 the court awarded, as Oshaliang notes, "$3.2 million to an Austin architecture firm, Kipp Flores Architects." as "hallmark infringed Kipp Flores Architects' copyrights by constructing hundreds of houses from copyrighted architectural designs in violation of federal law."

Grooveshark employees settle label's action

Four former and one current employee of Grooveshark, as The 1709 Blog states:

"have signed agreements with the major music companies, led by Universal, who are suing the site and a number of individuals, agreeing in a consent judgement that they will never again infringe the labels' copyrights, or to work for a company "systematically infringes" copyrights."

However Grooveshark itself is "far from out the water" regarding the copyright infringement case. Grooveshark's co-founders Sam Tarantino and Josh Greenberg have not yet signed similar agreements with the case focussing on the question of whether "the company's own employees were involved in reuploading tracks taken down through that "strict compliance" policy."

UK net firms block pirate movie websites

UK net firms have begun blocking access to two sites accused of flouting copyright laws. As BBC News reports "The blocks were imposed after the Motion Picture Association (MPA) won a court order compelling ISPs to cut off the Movie2K and Download4All websites." It was argued that the websites breached the UK's Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 by allowing people to "download or stream copies of recently released movies that have been ripped from DVDs."

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) "is believed to be seeking to block many more sites as it circulates a list of 25 domains it says are involved in pirating popular music." The list, according to Torrent Freak features "BitTorrent BitTorrent search engines 1337x, BitSnoop, ExtraTorrent, Isohunt, TorrentReactor, TorrentCrazy, Monova, Torrentdownloads, TorrentHound and Torrentz; file-transfer services Filestube, Filecrop, Filetram and Rapidlibrary; download sites BeeMP3, Dilandau, MP3juices, MP3lemon, MP3raid, MP3skull, Abmp3, Bomb-mp3, Emp3world and Newalbumreleases; and finally, often controversial streaming service Grooveshark."

ORG Media coverage

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