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May 14, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Copyright extension: Seems our MPs haven't been doing their homework

Update 2: Nick Pollard says Stephen Williams MP has responded to his letter by agreeing to take his name off the EDM. Well done, Nick (and Mr Williams MP). Anyone else had a response? Let us know so we can strike their names off the list below.

Update: 7 more MPs have signed the EDM this week. If you are a constituent of one of these members, please write to explain why we should all oppose this copyright extension.

  • Alan Simpson - Nottingham South - Labour
  • Janet Dean - Burton - Labour
  • Jeffrey Donaldson - Lagan Valley - Democratic Unionist Party
  • Frank Doran - Aberdeen North - Labour
  • Pete Wishart - Perth and Perthshire - SNP
  • Alasdair McDonnell - Belfast South - Social Democratic and Labour Party
  • Colin Burgon - Elmet - Labour Party

Here we go again.

Top-level reviews of intellectual property regulation reject proposals to extend the length of copyright protection for producers and performers. An independent economic study grounds the Gowers Review's recommendation that “The European Commission should retain the length of protection on sound recordings and performers’ rights at 50 years.” This recommendation, endorsed by the British government in December 2006, is affirmed by a report authored for the European Commission that rejects in even stronger terms proposals for extension.

Yet certain politicians appear to be neglecting their IP studies. Seventy MPs have now signed an Early Day Motion calling for extension: perhaps they're simply studying from the same textbooks as Mick, Katie and Cliff? Please write to tell your MP that term extension will neither benefit starving musicians nor guarantee profits for the recording industry.

We must remind politicians to debate this issue on the basis of evidence – which points firmly against extension – rather than nostalgia. It is particularly important to write if you are a constituent of one of these 70 MPs:

David Amess Mark Durkan David Lepper
David Anderson Bill Etherington Elfyn Llwyd
Janet Anderson Mark Field Peter Luff
Joe Benton Michael Jabez Foster Judy Mallaber
David S Borrow Hywel Francis David Marshall
Peter Bottomley Mike Gapes John McDonnell
Colin Breed Ian Gibson Jim McGovern
Vincent Cable Nigel Griffiths Ann McKechin
Martin Caton John Grogan Rosemary McKenna
David Chaytor Mike Hancock Alan Meale
Michael Clapham Dai Havard Doug Naysmith
Tom Clarke John Hemming Edward O'Hara
David Clelland Doug Henderson Mike Penning
Harry Cohen Jimmy Hood John Robertson
Derek Conway Kelvin Hopkins Bob Russell
Frank Cook George Howarth Dennis Skinner
Jeremy Corbyn Brian Iddon Gavin Strang
Ann Cryer Glenda Jackson David Taylor
Ian Davidson Brian Jenkins Desmond Turner
Philip Davies Lynne Jones Rudi Vis
Jim Dobbin Barbara Keeley Betty Williams
Frank Dobson Alan Keen Stephen Williams
David Drew Greg [R] Knight Jenny Willott

If you need fuel for your letters, watch the videos (or listen to the audio) from our Release the Music debate (thanks, Tim!). The first part is a fantastic speech by Jonathan Zittrain, which explains this issue and other aspects of copyright reform in clear terms. The second is a panel debate, featuring representatives from the music industry as well as an academic and recording artist.

We’ll be updating our Release the Music briefing pack before taking the campaign to Europe later this year. If any readers are excited to get involved, please drop me a line so we can coordinate our efforts.

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May 11, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Are you on ORG's mailing lists?

If you want to keep informed of our events, discuss digital rights issues, or actively help us out - there's a list for you. Follow the links to sign up yourselves, or email me and i'll happily do it for you.

  • ORG-Announce For events information, please join the low-volume ORG Announcements list.

  • ORG-Discuss To talk about digital rights issues with other ORG supporters, please join the ORG Discussion list.

  • ORG-Tech For those actively involved in ORG operations. Not restricted to, but mainly, Techy things.

  • ORG-Designers Got graphics / visual flair and want to help out with ORG activities? Here's the place.

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May 09, 2007 | Jason Kitcat

A big ORG thank you to our Election Observers

Becky at a polling station in SwindonA huge thank you to our entire team of Election Observers who went way beyond the call of duty in their work monitoring last week's elections.

Our team found procedural and technical problems some of which, particularly in Scotland, have already been reported in the media. Each observer is preparing a detailed file which will be used in drafting our comprehensive report on these elections. The report will be launched on 20 June at the Royal Academy of Engineers, London.

In the meantime thank you for all your hard work team, and thank you to all the election workers, candidates and voters who made us feel so welcome.

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April 27, 2007 | Becky Hogge

ORG ElectionWatch 2007 ready to go

ORG election observers meet Hacking Democracy directorsMost of the thirty ORG election observers who have volunteered to devote a day to democracy on 3 May have now received their official accreditation from the Electoral Commission. ORG's monitoring team dominates the group of offical observers accredited by the commission last week. We'll be paying special attention to the running of electronic voting and electronic counting pilots in Bedford, Rushmoor, Sheffield, Shrewsbury and Atcham, South Bucks, Stratford and Swindon. Observers will also be monitoring Scottish elections where e-counting is set to be deployed widely for the first time.

Today, Michael is mailing out hard copies of our election observer handbook, as well as limited edition ORG "election observer" T Shirts, which will make us easily recognisable to officials and candidates on the day. Last night, a few of the observers met up at the ICA in London to watch a screenig of Hacking Democracy, and chat with directors Russell Michaels and Simon Ardizzone.

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April 26, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Are you receiving ORG's supporter updates?

We email out a Supporters Update on the last day of each month. It contains a mixture of news, press and events items as well as suggestions for ways to volunteer and help ORG's work. Past missives are archived at the links below.

If you're an ORG supporter but you're not receiving our monthly update by email (and if you'd like to!) then please ping michael[at]openrightsgroup.org with your contact details to receive future messages.

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April 20, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Home Office's 'Data Retention' consultation

The Home Office is holding a consultation into the initial transposition of the EC 'Data Retention' Directive on the retention of communications data'. They have published a set of draft regulations, and a shiny PDF detailing the process by which they arrived at these regulations, as well as 6 questions into the application of these regulations. This document is summarised for your use on our wiki.

Will you be affected by these regulations? Do you have concerns regarding the associated costs to businesses, or implications for privacy? If so, please record your perspective on our wiki in order that we can express your concerns. Alternatively, email your testimony to michael[at]openrightsgroup.org. We will gather evidence for the next month or so, before producing a document for submission ahead of the June 11th deadline.

NB These regulations will not be applied to internet access, internet telephony and internet e-mails, as the Directive will not be applied to these services until 2009, following further consultation.

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April 18, 2007 | Becky Hogge

Take action: European Parliament votes on IPRED2 next week

It’s time to get in touch with your MEP again.

IPRED2 – the EU’s second intellectual property enforcement directive – is going to the vote at the EU Parliament next week. If it passes in its current form, "aiding, abetting, or inciting" copyright infringement on a "commercial scale" in the EU will become a crime. What’s more, it will be the first time the EU will force countries to impose minimal criminal sanctions – this is normally left up to the discretion of member states.

EFF Europe have set up a new website – copycrime.eu – to help stop the directive coming into law in its current form. According to them:

“IPRED2's new crime of "aiding, abetting and inciting" infringement takes aim at innovators, including open source coders, media-sharing sites like YouTube, and ISPs that refuse to block P2P services.

With the new directive, music labels and Hollywood studios will push for the criminal prosecution of these innovators in Europe, saying their products "incite" piracy - with EU taxpayers covering the costs.

Under IPRED2, these same entertainment companies can work with transnational "joint investigation teams" to advise the authorities on how to investigate and prosecute their rivals!”

The directive is poorly drafted, and doesn’t define “commercial scale” well enough to ensure that ordinary citizens exercising their rights under copyright and trademark law aren’t at risk of penalties and fines. EFF, FFII, BEUC and EBLIDA have jointly drafted a set of amendments, which have been tabled by the European Green Party. The amendments would:

  • Limit the scope of IPRED2 to true criminal enterprises, involving copyright piracy and trademark violations done on a commercial scale, with malice and the intention of earning a profit from the enterprise
  • Avoid creating an unprecedented scope of secondary liability for Internet intermediaries, ICTs, software vendors and a range of legitimate business activity, by removing the words "aiding or abetting and inciting" from Article 3
  • Provide legal certainty by adopting precise and appropriate definitions of "on a commercial scale" and "intentional infringement" in Article 2 as commercial activity done with the intent to earn a profit directly attributable to the infringing activity

The coalition need you to get in touch with your MEP and ask him or her to support these tabled amendments before the vote on 24 April. All MEPs have been sent a copy of the proposed amendments, so they will know what you’re talking about when you ask them to “support the librarians', consumers' and innovators' coalition amendments to IPRED2”.

For more details on the amendments, advice and suggestions on what to say to your MEP, and to sign EFF Europe’s petition against IPRED2, visit the Copycrime action page.

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April 12, 2007 | Becky Hogge

SO!(aP) a success - raffle winners announced

Dave and Becky, awed by the list of rallfe ticket buyersLast night's inaugural Support ORG! (and Party) event was a huge success - thanks to everyone who came. We signed up over a dozen new supporters, with dozens more walking away with supporter forms tucked inside their free culture goodie bags. Danny O'Brien's speech was characteristically rousing, and Dave Rowntree did a great job as our raffle puller. A pool of photos is growing on Flickr, as revellers recover from their hangovers and get uploading their photos (if you're uploading photos of the night to Flickr, please tag them "openrightsgroup").

Thanks to all the volunteers who made the night go so smoothly - Glyn, Sheila, Chris, Janita, Felix - and to Tim, Andrew and Johnny V for sounds and visuals. Thanks to Ian and Lee at Bar Kick, to No2ID, Genewatch, Magnatune, Canonical, O'Reilly and Beatpick for their contributions to the goodie bags, and to EFF and Mind Candy for some last minute schwag. Thanks to all our celeb raffle donors, and big, big thanks to Michael for pulling the whole thing together so artfully.

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for... the ORG raffle winners:

  • A signed copy of Lawrence Lessig's Code 2.0 goes to Kimberley Gahramt
  • A signed copy of Bruce Schneier's Beyond Fear goes to Karen Molden
  • A signed copy of the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property goes to Grant Slater
  • Neil Gaiman's signed keyboard goes to Ben Goldacre
  • £90 of O'Reilly vouchers goes to Laurie Rich
  • £60 of O'Reilly vouchers goes to Zach Robinson
  • The 12 CD Beatpick compilation goes to Lawrence Lessig (you should have heard the cheers that one got on the night)
  • And the chance to be written into Cory Doctorow's next book and receive a signed author's galley goes to Graeme Sutherland

Congratulations to all our winners. Michael will be getting in touch with those of you who weren't at the party to collect your prize soon to arrange delivery. Commiserations to those who were less successful, but take heart in the knowledge that the money you've spent on raffle tickets is going to a very good cause.

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