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Press releases

Press releases


March 28, 2012 | Jim Killock

ORG supports Document Freedom Day

Today Open Rights Group is pleased to announce a partnership with Document Freedom Day 2012. Document Freedom Day (DFD) is an annual celebration of information accessibility and Open Standards, which are fundamental to citizen's data security and privacy.

"Open Standards are vital for personal freedom, competition and the freedom for everyone to innovate", says Jim Killock, ORG's Executive Director. "Without them, we become victims of monopoly, price fixing and cartels". "The Cabinet Office took some promising steps towards Open Standards, but the government has gone back on its word; real change is yet to come," says Sam Tuke, FSFE's UK coordinator. "We're happy to join forces with ORG to push for Open Standards in the UK".

Open Standards are a common language, publicly documented, that computer programs can speak. They are central to interoperability and freedom of choice in technology. Open Standards allow Free Software developers to create programs that can smoothly work together with other programs, so users can easily migrate between programs as they wish.

47 events in 17 countries are using demonstrations, street art, and workshops to explain why Open Standards and Free Software are crucial to a free and competitive information society. A network of 34 international partner organisations are carrying this message to new audiences, from Cairo to Argentina, Poland to Taiwan, and the European Parliament to Wales.

As a leading advocate of consumers' digital rights in the UK, Open Rights Group works with organisations such as Document Freedom Day which share its goals.

[Read more]


March 06, 2012 | Peter Bradwell

Response to Digital Economy Act Judicial Review appeal decision

Responding to the decision this morning in the appeal of the Judicial Review of the Digital Economy Act, Peter Bradwell of Open Rights Group said:

"There is one thing the court cannot tell us: that this is a good law. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport had no evidence when they wrote this Act, except for the numbers they were given by a couple of industry trade bodies. This is a policy made on hearsay and assumptions, not proper facts or analysis.

So significant problems remain. Publicly available wifi will be put at risk. Weak evidence could be used to penalise people accused of copyright infringement. And people will have to pay £20 for the privilege of defending themselves against these accusations.

The Government needs to correct these errors with a proper, evidence-based review of the law."


Contact: Peter Bradwell, peter@openrightsgroup.com / 07811 268398

The full text of the decision can be found here

[Read more]


February 22, 2012 | Jim Killock

Comment on referral of ACTA to European Court of Justice

Reacting to the European Commission's decision to refer the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the European Court of Justice, Peter Bradwell of Open Rights Group said:

"The European Commission has a vested interest in seeing ACTA pass. They get to choose the question asked of the Court. They show every sign of making sure they get the answers they want to try to give ACTA a fig leaf of legitimacy.

And this is also clearly an attempt by the Commission to pause the ratification process in the hope that protests lose their heat.

If the Commission expects these protests about clumsy and dangerous internet policies to fade away, they are very much mistaken. Citizens across Europe have found their voice."

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February 19, 2012 | Jim Killock

Email and Internet spy plans revived by Coalition

Responding to confirmation that Labour’s plans to intercept Internet traffic and store details of who we talk to online, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

“Labour’s online surveillance plans have hardly changed but have been rebranded. They are just as intrusive and offensive.

“The coalition opposed Labour’s plans in opposition . Now, despite civil liberties commitments from Conservatives and Lib Dems, Home Office officials are planning to push through the same online surveillance capabilities.

“They are not telling Parliament, and hope they can slip commitments to build these new surveillance plans before the politicians really know what they are proposing.

“The plans are a huge waste of time and money, as well as being a huge intrusion on our civil liberties. Online government surveillance is the last thing we need right now.”

BACKGROUND

For a simple timeline and list of the main issues with the Communications Capabilities Development Plan,

http://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/Communications_Capabilities_Development_Programme

Telegraph article: Phone and email records to be stored in new spy plan

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet/9090617/Phone-and-email-records-to-be-stored-in-new-spy-plan.html

[Read more]


October 19, 2011 | Jim Killock

The online market for films is dysfunctional

Open Rights Group today published research on the availability of film online, finding a dysfunctional marketplace that leaves consumers with the digital equivalent of empty shelves. The findings showed:

  • Excluding iTunes, only 27% of the BAFTA Best Film award winning films from 1960 to 2011 are available to rent or buy online, with only 29% of the50 best British films.
  • Only 6% of the best 50 best British films are on Film4 OD or Virgin Media. 14% are available through a LoveFilm subscription and 4% through payper view on LoveFilm.
  • Including iTunes, still only 43% of the top 50 British films can be bought or rented online, with the figure at 58% for the BAFTA Best Filmaward winners.

As well as problems with availability, prices online do not compare favourably with DVDs:

  • For the best selling DVDs from August 2011, the average price onAmazon.co.uk was £6.80. For iTunes purchases, of the films available through its service, the average price was £8.88. For blinkbox purchases theprice stood at £9.49.
  • DVD prices at Amazon.co.uk for the BAFTA winning films average at£5.84, whilst on iTunes the average price stands at £6.72

In the US, DVD sales fell 20% in the first quarter of 2011. Presuming a decline in physical media sales, shifts towards digital consumption and device 'convergence', the availability of a broad digital catalogue of works at least comparable to that available on physical media will be vital in sustaining a bouyant film industry.

If the goal for policy makers is cultural markets that thrive in the digital age, consumers' demand must be satisfied online. Clearly this is not yet happening. This must take precedence over damaging new copyright enforcement measures. The proportionality and necessity of enforcement can only be considered in a situation in which there is a compelling offering of legal services and a healthy market environment.

Peter Bradwell, campaigner at Open Rights Group, said:

"There are obvious deficiencies in the licensing for cultural goods online. This is crippling the market just as consumers are increasingly showing a desire to watch film in new ways. Consumers are moving online faster than the industry whose films they want to watch. Understanding why these market sare so unhealthy must be a key focus for policy makers."

Notes on the results

The four film lists used:

1. The top 50 films from Time Out London magazine's 100 Best BritishFilms2. BAFTA Best Film award winners (1960-2011)3. Amazon.co.uk's 20 best-selling DVDs as of 1 July 20114. Amazon.co.uk's 40 best-selling DVDs for August 2011

For each film, we searched five content providers (iTunes, Lovefilm,blinkbox, Film4 OD, and Virgin Media) and one film listing service (Findanyfilm). Box-sets and TV shows were excluded from the comparison ofthe Amazon.co.uk lists. For the recent best sellers lists, we included HD results.

Results were correct as on 19th September 2011. The results for any givensearch frequently change, with content providers' catalogues changing offers. Results here should therefore be taken as *indicative* of current availability. You can download the spreadsheets with more detailed comparisons in here (.xls).

[Read more]


October 11, 2011 | Jim Killock

Censorware or child protection?

Tuesday 11 October

Reacting to news of new agreements between ISPs to block adult content, or forcing adults to opt into to it, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, which campaigns for digital rights, said:

"There is a world of difference between offering sensible child safety, and trying to persuade adults to live with layers of censorship.

"The devil is therefore in the detail, and how "options" are presented. Will adults be asked if they need parental controls, or if they want to switch adult content on? We will oppose anything designed to induce adults to live with "censorware" which would inevitably deny them access to commentary, health and medical advice."

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October 06, 2011 | Javier Ruiz

Government u-turn on vital public data

Government u-turn on vital public data

Thursday 6 October 2011

Transparency activists are demanding the new Public Data Corporation proposal is rewritten from scratch, claiming the current scheme is a "bodge" and a "betrayal".

The "Ernest Marples" activists say the Corporation will betray coalition promises to create full government transparency and fuel an open data revolution.

Instead, the activists claim, the Corporation will be forced to continue sell vital data sets, in order to attract private investment.

These data sets, like maps, weather records and land registers, are seen by transparency activists as vital "infrastructure" to enable other data to be properly understood. The campaigners say they are vital for democracy and innovation.

The Ernestmarples.com campaign is supported by companies and citizen groups.

Francis Irving, CEO of Scraperwiki said:

"We are a silicon valley style start-up that absolutely depends on open data. The PDC consultation is a farce and the civil servants and vested interests involved should hang their heads in shame."

Emma Mulqueeny, Director of Rewired State said:

Open data is critical to this country maintaining its position as respected global digital leaders, with our first-to-market moves through data.gov.uk. It seems insane that there is even deliberation about this.”

Harry Metcalfe is available for interview. Please call 07790 559876 or email contact@ernestmarples.com

NOTES

the campaign website

http://www.ernestmarples.com

link to pdc consultation

http://discuss.bis.gov.uk/pdc/

wider open data policy consultation (in contradiction with above)

http://data.gov.uk/opendataconsultation 

The Ernest Marples group forced the government to freely publish post code geodata, after a direct action data campaign in 2009. They successfully argued that post code look ups were a vital way for people to find government services and information.

The Open Rights Group is a digital rights advocacy group based in the UK. It aims to increase awareness of digital rights issues, help foster grassroots activity and preserve civil liberties and consumer rights in the digital age.

To find out more about the Open Rights Group visit http://www.openrightsgroup.org.

Further information: Javier Ruiz javier@openrightsgroup.org / 07877 911 412

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September 12, 2011 | Jim Killock

Term extension: a cultural disaster

Reacting to the news that the EU Council has approved extension of the term of copyright in sound recordings from 50 to 70 years, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

"Term extension is a cultural disaster. It means that it will be harder to publish older works, and many will remain out of print. EU research shows that around 90% of the cash windfall from copyright levies will fall into the hands of record labels. Despite the rhetoric, small artists will gain very little from this, while our cultural heritage takes a massive blow by denying us full access to these recordings for another generation.

"The campaign against term extension showed that copyright policy can no longer be a deal done in darkened rooms: the public has a strong interest in the cultural impact of excessive copyright and damaging restrictions. ORG would like to thank everyone who helped throughout the campaign."

The Open Rights Group ran a strong campaign against term extension, with around 15,000 EU citizens signing the Sound Copyright petition against term extension. This helped reduce the proposal from 95 to 70 years and delayed its passing, as many small countries realised they were liable to export capital to US-based companies for no real gain.

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August 25, 2011 | Jim Killock

Ten human rights groups warn Theresa May of “abuse” of social media censorship powers

Ten human rights groups have warned today that hasty measures to limit access to social networks and communications could lead to abuse. Their letter to Home Secretary Theresa May says:

"We are very concerned that new measures, made in good faith but in a heated political environment, will overextend powers in ways that would be susceptible to abuse, restrict legitimate, free communication and expression and undermine people's privacy.  This is especially so if proposals involve unaccountable voluntary arrangements between law enforcement and communications providers."

The signatories also ask for a meeting with Theresa May, in addition to the meeting she is having today with service providers.

Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group, said:

"Blocking people's communications could do more harm than good. People may be put in danger and efforts to stop rioting and damage might well be disrupted. Powers targeting individuals could easily lead to abuse. Theresa May needs to meet with rights groups and have a frank discussion about where these ideas may be leading us."

MORE INFO

 

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August 02, 2011 | Peter Bradwell

Open Rights Group welcomes Government response to Hargreaves Review

Tuesday 2nd August 2011.

In response to the Government's expected announcement tomorrow morning that it is supporting the findings of Professor Hargreaves' report 'Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth', Peter Bradwell, campaigner at Open Rights Group said:

"Exceptions like the right to parody, which many other countries already have, will bring huge rewards for creators and consumers. A right to parody will lead to a blossoming of legitimate spoofs and satires by the public, comedians and campaigners alike. The Government should be loudly applauded for wanting to modernise the UK's copyright laws."

ENDS

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