call +44 20 7096 1079

Press releases

Press releases


May 08, 2014 | Pam Cowburn

Is iPod tax on cards as government delays right to copy your music?

Open Rights Group is concerned that the government is considering an 'iPod tax', as proposed copyright exceptions for personal copying were delayed yesterday.

The  Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) approved three of five Statutory Instruments (SI) relating to copyright law but is still considering a further two: exceptions for parody and for personal copying (also known as format shifting).

Open Rights Group is concerned that groups representing rightsholders are seeking compensation for consumers potentially copying music they have bought onto different devices, for example from a CD to their iPod. Last year, UK Music, which represents the live music sector, said that “the exception cannot lawfully be made without fair compensation”. (1)

Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, said,

“It has taken nine years and two separate reviews to get our copyright close to being fit-for purpose in the digital age. It is extremely worrying that at this stage, exceptions for personal copying and parody are being delayed. We believe that the government is under intense pressure to introduce an 'iPod tax' that would push up prices for consumers.”

When similar legislation was introduced in Spain, it resulted in levies of being applied to a range of devices that could copy content. The levies ranged from € 3.40 for CD and DVD recorders to €227 for some photocopiers. The Spanish law was killed in 2011 after 3 million people signed a petition opposing it. 

In a letter to Open Rights Group dated Apr 2 2014, Viscount Younger of Leckie said:

“The parallel provision to allow some personal copying recognises that copyright should not unduly restrict private actions where they cause no harm to the Rerights holder, especially when those actions are widely considered acceptable, and enhance the enjoyment and demand for creative works.”

Open Rights Group is urging the government to stand by these words and approve the Statutory Instrument for the exception as it stands.

For more information, please email: pam@openrightsgroup.org

 

Notes

(1) http://www.ukmusic.org/assets/general/UK_Music_Technical_Review_Submission_Final_17_7_13.pdf



[Read more]


May 06, 2014 | Pam Cowburn

Internet Day Against DRM: Limit the use of DRM technologies

On International Day Against DRM, the Open Rights Group is calling for limits on the use of DRM technologies, which restrict the ways that we access and control digital content.  

Executive Director Jim Killock said:

'The government recently published long overdue amendments that will bring copyright law into the 21st century. Now, we need to challenge those corporations that, in the name of copyright enforcement, are stifling competition and restricting consumer rights. DRM technologies enable companies to control and dominate the market by preventing competitors from making add-ons that work with their products. DRM also erodes the rights we have over our purchases, preventing us from passing them on, selling them or simply using them how we want.'

Typically used to control how digital content was consumed, DRM is now being used in the manufacture of products such as coffee makers where it has been used to ensure that only the manufacturers' coffee can be used in their machines. Car manufacturers Renault have effectively made car owners 'rent' their car's battery from a battery manufacturer.  DRM ensures that they are locked into this contract as the battery can be remotely prevented from re-charging.

The International Day Against DRM is organised by the Free Software Association: https://www.defectivebydesign.org

For press inquiries, email pam@openrightsgroup.org



[Read more]


April 08, 2014 | Pam Cowburn

European Court of Justice finds Data Retention Directive invalid

Open Rights Group welcomed today’s declaration by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that the Data Retention Directive is invalid. The Court found that the Directive severely interferes with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data. The ruling was prompted by two separate cases brought by Digital Rights Ireland and an Austrian group,  which includes privacy activists AK Vorrat Austria.

Open Rights Group Executive Director, Jim Killock said:

'Today’s ruling recognises that blanket data collection interferes with our privacy rights.  We must now see the repeal of national legislation that obliges telecoms companies to collect data about our personal phone calls, text messages, emails and internet usage. This collection is indiscriminate and reverses the presumption of innocent until proven guilty.'

The 2006 directive was introduced allegedly to help investigations into serious crime and terrorism but there were no restrictions to prevent it from being used for less serious misdemeanours, such as copyright breaches. Under the Directive, telecoms companies were obliged to collect and retain location and traffic data about phone calls, text messages, emails and internet use and retain that information for between six months and two years. The Court found that the Directive failed to state criteria that would ensure data was only kept for as long as is strictly necessary.

The ruling supports the earlier Opinion of Advocate General, Cruz Villalon, who in December 2013 found that the Directive was incompatible with the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. At the time he proposed that the EU should be allowed time to adopt new legislation that would rectify the invalidity of the Directive. However today’s ruling found that the Directive is invalid with immediate effect.

For more information, please contact Pam Cowburn: pam@openrightsgroup.org, 07749785932.



[Read more]


April 03, 2014 | Pam Cowburn

European Parliament votes to protect free and fair internet

The European Parliament took a major step towards enshrining net neutrality in law today, when the EU Parliament voted yes to a new Regulation for a Telecommunications Single Market.

Executive Director of Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said,

‘We’re delighted that the European Parliament has backed an open, free and democratic internet and we hope that the British government does the same. The Regulation means that for the first time net neutrality is properly defined and protected in law, making sure that all internet traffic is treated equally.’

Open Rights Group had previously raised concerns that the Regulation included provisions that would allow ISPs to charge more for “specialised services”, in effect allowing corporations to use their purchasing power to pay for a faster internet. However, amendments brought in by an alliance of Socialists, Greens and Liberals closed down loopholes that would allow the creation of a two-tier internet. The Regulation also includes reforms that will end data roaming fees across Europe.

The Regulation must now be approved by the Council of Member States. 

For more information, please contact Pam Cowburn, pam@openrightsgroup.org, 07749785932.

[Read more]


March 28, 2014 | Pam Cowburn

Victory for digital rights as UK Government publishes changes to copyright law

The UK’s out-of-date copyright law came closer to being fit for purpose yesterday, when the Government published regulations for copyright exceptions. They include exceptions for parody, personal copying, text mining, research and education. If the Regulations are approved by the House of Commons and House of Lords, they will become law on June 1, 2014.

The announcement is a victory for digital rights campaigners, the Open Rights Group, who have been calling for changes to copyright law since 2005. 

Executive Director Jim Killock said:

“These changes are important for both free speech and consumer rights.  They mean that people will no longer be infringing copyright when they make personal copies of their own music, films and books. Nor will they have to break the law if they contribute to our rich online culture of advert, film and music parodies. The important thing now is for MPs and Peers to say yes to the regulations and bring the UK’s copyright laws up to date and in line with most other European countries.”

Two government reviews, the 2006 Gowers Review and the 2011 Hargreaves Review recommended that exceptions for format shifting and parody were introduced. An Open Rights Group campaign righttoparody.org.uk put pressure on the government to introduce these exceptions, with over 1400 people signing a petition. Last week, Open Rights Group supporters sent 350 emails to Vince Cable and Lord Younger urging them not to delay reform any further.

For further information, please contact Pam Cowburn: pam@openrightsgroup.org



[Read more]


March 18, 2014 | Pam Cowburn

Loopholes in EU telecom regulation threaten neutrality of the net

The neutrality of the internet is under threat after the European Parliament’s Industry Committee today voted yes to a new Regulation for a Telecom single Market. As they stand, the proposals include worrying loopholes that could allow the creation of a two-tiered internet. The full European Parliament will vote on the Regulation on 3rd April.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:

‘By allowing ISPs to charge more for “specialised services”, the Regulation would enable telecoms and other companies to buy their way to a faster internet at the expense of individuals, start-ups and small businesses. This threatens the openness and freedom of the internet.'

Also of concern are proposals that would allow "reasonable traffic management measures" to "prevent or impede serious crime”. On these, Killock added:

‘It is unclear what "reasonable traffic management measures" are but potentially they could allow ISPs to block or remove content without any judicial oversight. Decisions about what the public can and and can’t see online should not be made by commercial organisations and without any legal basis.’

For more information or interviews, please contact Pam Cowburn: pam@openrightsgroup.org, 07749785932

[Read more]


March 12, 2014 | Ed Paton-Williams

Open Rights Group calls on UK government to end opposition to stronger European privacy rights

Digital campaigners, the Open Rights Group, welcome today’s vote in the European Parliament to approve a Regulation on data protection. The Regulation will strengthen European citizens’ rights over their data.

Executive Director Jim Killock said:

‘Today’s vote is an important step in giving citizens more rights over the personal data that companies hold about them. It is now time to ensure that this directive is agreed by the European Council and EU member states. The UK government has opposed the proposals in an attempt to appease the anti-European elements in the Conservative party. Internal political battles with UKIP should not be put before better data privacy for British citizens.’

The provisions should mean that:

  • Citizens have the right to get hold of electronic copies of their data
  • Citizens will also be able to request companies delete personal data that they hold
  • Citizens can object to the automated processing of their data for profiling
  • Companies who breach their customers’ privacy will face more significant fines of up to 5 percent of a company’s annual turnover

To arrange interviews with ORG experts, please contact Pam Cowburn, Communications Director, Open Rights Group: 07749785932, pam@openrightsgroup.org

[Read more]


December 04, 2013 | Jim Killock

Get a court order, says Open Rights Group

David Cameron's Extremism Taskforce today announced that the government wants UK Internet Service Providers to help to block websites it deems are hosting illegal material.

They say that they the Taskforce will:

"work with internet companies to restrict access to terrorist material online which is hosted overseas but illegal under UK law" 

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, said:

"The government must use court orders if it wants sites 'blocked'. It is absolutely essential to use the courts so someone independent makes the decision. 

"However, blocking is not an effective policy. It is trivially evaded using common tools like proxies, VPNs or Tor. The real beneficiaries of this policy may be the extremists who can claim to be censored because of their views."

 

[Read more]


October 18, 2013 | Lee Maguire

Civil Rights Groups Call On European Parliament To Vote For Strong Data Protection Rules

EDRI joint press release regarding the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties will decide on the future of privacy and data protection in Europe.

http://www.edri.org/eudatap-pr

[Read more]


October 18, 2013 | Jim Killock

ORG warns on Data Protection

Reacting to the leaked documents detailing the proposed Data Protection Regulation, ORG Executive Director Jim Killock warned that 'pseudonymous' categories of data could create privacy problems for EU citizens.

"Deciding that it is ok to process data if it is 'pseudonymous' is extremely dangerous. It could place a great deal of data out of the control of individuals.

"Web companies with big advertising revenues seem to want this so that they are relieved of many of their legal obligations. But that could leave users unable to control how a lot of their data is used.

"The NSA was recently shown to be using 'pseudonymous' cookies to track browsing the web, linking this data back to your identity, so the dangers are very real and proven."

MORE INFO

Full documents

[Read more]