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March 03, 2010 | Jim Killock

Conservatives and Lib Dems push web blocking

CopryightNow, in an even more dangerous amendment, Lib Dems and Conservatives push for web blocking. This would open the door to a massive imbalance of power in favour of large copyright holding companies. Individuals and small businesses would be open to massive 'copyright attacks' that could shut them down, just by the threat of action.

This is exactly how libel law works today: suppressing free speech by the unwarranted threat of legal action. The expense and the threat are enough to create a 'chilling effect'.

And worse still together, Lib Dems and Conservatives can vote down the government. Write to them both urgently!

Please write to the Lords now

Write to Conservative Lord Howard of Rising

Write to Lib Dem Lord Clement Jones

 

Amendment 120a

LORD CLEMENT-JONES

LORD HOWARD OF RISING

Leave out Clause 17 and insert the following new Clause—

   "Preventing access to specified online locations for the prevention of online copyright infringement

   In Part 1 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, after section 97A insert—

"97B Preventing access to specified online locations for the prevention of online copyright infringement

(1)   The High Court (in Scotland, the Court of Session) shall have power to grant an injunction against a service provider, requiring it to prevent access to online locations specified in the order of the Court for the prevention of online copyright infringement.

(2)   In determining whether to grant an injunction under subsection (1), the Court shall have regard to the following matters—

(a)   whether a substantial proportion of the content accessible at or via each specified online location infringes copyright,

(b)   the extent to which the operator of each specified online location has taken reasonable steps to prevent copyright infringement content being accessed at or via that online location or taken reasonable steps to remove copyright infringing content from that online location (or both),

(c)   whether the service provider has itself taken reasonable steps to prevent access to the specified online location,

(d)   any issues of national security raised by the Secretary of State.

(e)   the extent to which the copyright owner has made reasonable efforts to facilitate legal access to content,

(f)   the importance of preserving human rights, including freedom of expression, and the right to property, and

(g)   any other matters which appear to the Court to be relevant.

(3)   An application for an injunction under subsection (1) shall be made on notice to the service provider and to the operator of each specified online location in relation to which an injunction is sought and to the Secretary of State.

(4)   Where—

(a)   the Court grants an injunction under subsection (1) upon the application of an owner of copyright whose copyright is infringed by the content accessible at or via each specified online location in the injunction, and

(b)   the owner of copyright before making the application made a written request to the service provider giving it a reasonable period of time to take measures to prevent its service being used to access the specified online location in the injunction, and no steps were taken,

  the Court shall order the service provider to pay the copyright owner's costs of the application unless there were exceptional circumstances justifying the service provider's failure to prevent access despite notification by the copyright owner.

(5)   In this section—

  "copyright owner" includes a licensee with an exclusive licence within the meaning of section 92 of this Act,

  "infringing content" means content which is produced or made available in infringement of copyright,

  "online location" means a location on the internet, a mobile data network or other data network at or via which copyright infringing content is accessible,

  "operator" means a person or persons in joint or sole control of the decisions to make content accessible at or via an online location, and

  "service provider" has the meaning given to it by section 97A(3) of this Act.

(6)   Subsections (1) to (5) shall come into force on such day as the Secretary of State may by order appoint not less than 3 months and not more than 12 months after subsections (1) to (5) have been notified to the Commission of the European Communities ("the Commission") in accordance with the obligations of notification imposed by Directive 98/34/EC.

(7)   If any comments are received from Member States of the European Union or the Commission after subsection (1) to (5) have been so notified and the Secretary of State reasonably considers amendments are necessary to give effect to such comments, he may make the necessary regulations within the period referred to in subsection (6)(a), to amend subsections (1) to (5).""

 

LORD CLEMENT-JONES
 
LORD HOWARD OF RISING
120A* Leave out Clause 17 and insert the following new Clause—
   "Preventing access to specified online locations for the prevention of online copyright infringement
   In Part 1 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, after section 97A insert—
"97B Preventing access to specified online locations for the prevention of online copyright infringement
(1)   The High Court (in Scotland, the Court of Session) shall have power to grant an injunction against a service provider, requiring it to prevent access to online locations specified in the order of the Court for the prevention of online copyright infringement.
(2)   In determining whether to grant an injunction under subsection (1), the Court shall have regard to the following matters—
(a)   whether a substantial proportion of the content accessible at or via each specified online location infringes copyright,
(b)   the extent to which the operator of each specified online location has taken reasonable steps to prevent copyright infringement content being accessed at or via that online location or taken reasonable steps to remove copyright infringing content from that online location (or both),
(c)   whether the service provider has itself taken reasonable steps to prevent access to the specified online location,
(d)   any issues of national security raised by the Secretary of State.
(e)   the extent to which the copyright owner has made reasonable efforts to facilitate legal access to content,
(f)   the importance of preserving human rights, including freedom of expression, and the right to property, and
(g)   any other matters which appear to the Court to be relevant.
(3)   An application for an injunction under subsection (1) shall be made on notice to the service provider and to the operator of each specified online location in relation to which an injunction is sought and to the Secretary of State.
(4)   Where—
(a)   the Court grants an injunction under subsection (1) upon the application of an owner of copyright whose copyright is infringed by the content accessible at or via each specified online location in the injunction, and
(b)   the owner of copyright before making the application made a written request to the service provider giving it a reasonable period of time to take measures to prevent its service being used to access the specified online location in the injunction, and no steps were taken,
  the Court shall order the service provider to pay the copyright owner's costs of the application unless there were exceptional circumstances justifying the service provider's failure to prevent access despite notification by the copyright owner.
(5)   In this section—
  "copyright owner" includes a licensee with an exclusive licence within the meaning of section 92 of this Act,
  "infringing content" means content which is produced or made available in infringement of copyright,
  "online location" means a location on the internet, a mobile data network or other data network at or via which copyright infringing content is accessible,
  "operator" means a person or persons in joint or sole control of the decisions to make content accessible at or via an online location, and
  "service provider" has the meaning given to it by section 97A(3) of this Act.
(6)   Subsections (1) to (5) shall come into force on such day as the Secretary of State may by order appoint not less than 3 months and not more than 12 months after subsections (1) to (5) have been notified to the Commission of the European Communities ("the Commission") in accordance with the obligations of notification imposed by Directive 98/34/EC.
(7)   If any comments are received from Member States of the European Union or the Commission after subsection (1) to (5) have been so notified and the Secretary of State reasonably considers amendments are necessary to give effect to such comments, he may make the necessary regulations within the period referred to in subsection (6)(a), to amend subsections (1) to (5).""

Please write to the Lords now

Write to Conservative Lord Howard of Rising

Write to Lib Dem Lord Clement Jones

 

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Comments (12)

  1. Miles Dumble.:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 04:19 PM

    I urge you to drop your support of the web-blocking amendment 120A.

    At the behest of the corporations, the Digital Economy Bill already does away with centuries of tradition, such as the right for a person to be considered innocent until proven guilty and the right to be tried in a court of law.

    It's absolutely appalling that the UK, the country responsible for bringing the Web to the world is so backward looking.

    This amendment gives the Government the power to block any material they don't like for any reason, no matter how spurious - this has terrible ramifications for freedom of speech and could result in any site with user-generated content facing the axe.

    Please reconsider.

    Yours sincerely,

    Miles Dumble.

  2. Mike Brown:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 04:56 PM

    I too have written to Lord Howard of Rising, touch the themes of the above letters, so will not bore readers with my contribution.

    I just wanted to remark that a diverse rnage of well-considered texts have a much greater impact and effect than a huge number of instances of an obviously 'boiler plate' letter.

  3. Will Tovey:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 05:24 PM

    After an intense debate where the only person actually making any sense was the Earl of Erroll (who was pretty much ignored) an amendment that enables this change was passed. It looks like web blocking will now be in the bill rather than Clause 17. The vote was 140-165.

    It seems that the Lib Dems and Conservatives have both shown their true colours. Supporting the big content providers over everyone else.

  4. Richard Gadsden:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 05:37 PM

    I'm very disappointed in this. There's been no consultation within the Liberal Democrats on this, and the proposal seems very poorly drafted and utterly illiberal. A number of Liberal Democrats are trying internally to get this reversed - please contact me if you're a Lib Dem and want to help. My public email is richard.gadsden@gmail.com


    Richard Gadsden
    Liberal Democrat PPC Worsley and Eccles South.

  5. Joel Sams:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 01:04 PM

    Dear Lord Clement-Jones,

    I have been following the progress of the Digital Economy bill with great interest, increasingly punctuated by moments of horror, loathing and disgust.

    I have supported the Liberal Democrats all my adult life. I hope I shall not have to reconsider this support at the election, based on what I have read this morning.

    Please reconsider your support for the amendment to clause 17 of the Copyright, Designs And Patents Act, which would create a national system of censorship for the Internet. The Liberal Democrats should have nothing to do with such a trampling on people's liberty and free speech.

    Why not research some of the effects of the USA's DMCA, to see how a similar bill has been used by large, powerful interest groups to stifle the free speech of the individual? A Google search for "dmca takedown freespeech" will list thousands of abuses for you to peruse.

    Let me quote the first paragraph of the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution, emphasising a few words:

    "The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a FAIR, FREE and OPEN society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of LIBERTY, EQUALITY and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the FREEDOM, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to DISPERSE POWER, to foster diversity and to NURTURE CREATIVITY. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives."

    The proposed amendment to Clause 17 flies in the face of your principles. Fair? The accused has no chance to defend themselves. Free? Hardly, this is a system of state censorship. Open? You're suggesting closing off parts of the Internet. Liberty? No. Equality? This amendment will in practise benefit large companies to the detriment of the individual. Disperse power? No: this gives more power to the government, allowing it to censor anything it says "threatens" national security (Binyam Mohamed torture evidence?), and it extends this censorship power to the large companies who can afford it. Nurture creativity? This cannot but chill fair use of copyrighted material.

    Please, please, please reconsider your support. This amendment stands wholly against your stated principles.

    Yours sincerely,

    Joel Sams.

  6. David Wright:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    Yes, Crosbie, the 'Liberal' in 'Liberal Democrats' is more than vaguely related to the words 'Liberty' (not Libertarianism, that's another matter), and I don't know why Tim Clement Jones is supporting such an amendment. I shall write and ask him; hopefully so will many others.

  7. Joel Sams:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 01:00 PM

    Dear Lord Clement-Jones,

    I have been following the progress of the Digital Economy bill with great interest, increasingly punctuated by moments of horror, loathing and disgust.

    I have supported the Liberal Democrats all my adult life. I hope I shall not have to reconsider this support at the election, based on what I have read this morning.

    Please reconsider your support for the amendment to clause 17 of the Copyright, Designs And Patents Act, which would create a national system of censorship for the Internet. The Liberal Democrats should have nothing to do with such a trampling on people's liberty and free speech.

    Why not research some of the effects of the USA's DMCA, to see how a similar bill has been used by large, powerful interest groups to stifle the free speech of the individual? A Google search for "dmca takedown freespeech" will list thousands of abuses for you to peruse.

    Let me quote the first paragraph of the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution, emphasising a few words:

    "The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a FAIR, FREE and OPEN society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of LIBERTY, EQUALITY and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the FREEDOM, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to DISPERSE POWER, to foster diversity and to NURTURE CREATIVITY. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives."

    The proposed amendment to Clause 17 flies in the face of your principles. Fair? The accused has no chance to defend themselves. Free? Hardly, this is a system of state censorship. Open? You're suggesting closing off parts of the Internet. Liberty? No. Equality? This amendment will in practise benefit large companies to the detriment of the individual. Disperse power? No: this gives more power to the government, allowing it to censor anything it says "threatens" national security (Binyam Mohamed torture evidence?), and it extends this censorship power to the large companies who can afford it. Nurture creativity? This cannot but chill fair use of copyrighted material.

    Please, please, please reconsider your support. This amendment stands wholly against your stated principles.

    Yours sincerely,

    Joel Sams.

  8. Pete:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    UK Internet Service Providers blundered like idiots into this with their illegal use of Phorm and similar mass surveillance/monitoring technology (such as Bluecoat, Hitwise, Comscore, Nebuad, FrontPorch).

    Unless it is made clear that telcos have no role to play in content filtering of any kind (ie, a legal guarantee of absolute network neutrality) *and* people are prosecuted for contravening network neutrality, fighting against this potty control freak madness is going to be a feature of our lives for an eternity.

    The internet is being ruined by unthinking idiots.

    The ISPA once said "ISPs cannot monitor or record the type of information passed over their network. ISPs are no more able to inspect and filter every single packet passing across their network than the Post Office is able to open every envelope. ISPs deal with many more packets of data each day than postal services and data protection legislation actually prevents ISPs from looking at the content of the packets sent".

  9. Crosbie Fitch:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    And here was I thinking that the 'Lib' in 'Liberal Democrats' was vaguely related to the words 'liberty' and 'libertarian', and that 'Dem' was vaguely related to representation of the people rather than kings or corporations.

  10. Jamie Dowling:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    Dear Lord Howard,

    I have followed the Lords' workings on the Digital Economy Bill with a mixture of concern about the bill's contents, appreciation of the many correct criticisms made by noble Lords and Ladies and downright horror at some of the justifications given by government.

    Amendment 120a falls into the downright horror category. This bill is a clumsy attempt by a government (to which you are supposed to be opposed and hold to serious account) to seize control of and censor something about which it fails to understand and therefore fears. Surely you agree that the bedrock of English Law is that someone is innocent until proven guilty? This bedrock, perfectly good for centuries has now been shattered by this poorly thought out and draconian bill.

    This is a bill intended to stamp on individuals' rights and freedoms, the hallmark of a control obsessed government. It is state controlled censorship which cares nothing for evidence and due process between alleged wronged party and author.

    Your noble colleague Earl Northesk has been one of the few Lords who exposed this government's deliberate ignorance of privacy laws in the Phorm case. Despite government attempts to ignore the case it continues. This government's obsession with control and putting allegation ahead of evidence is proven. This amendment will provide more and unneeded censorship powers to government and those whose deeds are unethical and are afraid be held to account.

    Amendment 120a would not be out of place coming from this government. That it bears your name and that of the Conservative party beggars belief. I strongly contend that the current copyright laws are more than adequate for dealing with alleged breaches. I cannot see how they are not.

    This amendment plays into the hands of a government which has sold its soul to the media corporations. These corporations do not want to change, are desperate to maintain their failing business models and seek to subvert the main principle of English Law in doing so. Innocent until proven guilty is being sacrificed here. Allegations over evidence is not the hallmark of a democratic society.

    I respectfully ask you to reconsider this Amendment and withdraw it; in tabling this amendment you have associated yourself with a discredited government. The Amendment has no place in any genuinely democratic outlook on life.

    Yours sincerely,

    Jamie Dowling

  11. J D:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 03:35 PM


    Not well thought out is it how many Websites can get blocked as a side effect of blocking the Main IP address?

    Just one example.
    http://www.searchenginepromotionhelp.com/m/articles/search-engine-problems/guilt-by-association.php

  12. Mike Arthur:
    Mar 03, 2010 at 01:36 PM

    Dear Lord Clement-Jones,

    As a proud member of the Liberal Democrat party I was pretty appalled to see that you've lent your support to this web blocking amendment blocking sections of the web.

    I'm a software engineer and have provided consultancy and training to various companies around Europe. This amendment is not only violates the principles of how the internet should work but is also not even slightly practical to enforce.

    The internet, as a technology, detects any efforts to "block" a site as a failure and simply routes around it. It's literally impossible, without removing the source, to ever prevent access to certain material. Through the use of anonymous relays, proxy servers, VPNs, SSH tunnels and a swathe of other techniques it's trivial for any semi-technical individual to circumvent any blocks and also encrypt their data, meaning it's impossible for anyone other than the source to detect that they have done so.

    If there is illegal material on the internet then the ONLY way to deal with it is to shut it down at the source. If that source is beyond the UK's legal jurisdiction then it simply cannot be blocked. It is not possible to do so, it has never been possible to do so and never will be. Any block or form of restriction on the internet needs only one person to be able to break through and then they can let anyone else access it.

    Now that I've covered the technological reasons why this bill cannot be enforced I'd like to cover the sociological reasons.

    This bill gives the government terrifying levels of ability to censor and block material they don't like being present. It is already a crime to violate copyright law by unauthorised distribution, I have to ask why another law is needed to enforce this?

    Thanks for your time, I hope I've convinced you to withdraw your support for this "blocking" measure.

    Yours sincerely,
    Mike Arthur



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