November 19, 2012 | Ruth Coustick-Deal

Why your friends should join Open Rights Group

To help you with friend sign-ups we have written a guide to pitching ORG with some examples of where ORG affects every day online situations, and how funding a Legal Officer will have real world effects on your life.

Friend Sign-up Scheme Tips

As part of our ORGLawFund drive to fund a Legal Officer,  we’re offering thank you gifts of Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross, Raspberry Pis and MakeyMakeys to our paying supporters who sign-up multiple friends to ORG as part of our ORGLawFund drive.

However, persuading your variety of friends to give up their cash isn’t easy, even if it is for a cause you know is worth it. We’ve put together some facts, figures and examples to help you convince your friends that they want ORG to be able to defend them.

Choose your audience

Tweeting and sharing the link is wonderful and gets our name out there, but the best way to help us increase our membership and get your sign-up rewards is to find that friend who you know should be a member of ORG. That friend who already cares about the issues ORG campaigns on. Maybe a friend who:

  • Is passionate about preserving freedom of speech for minority groups
  • Voices fears about all the data companies like Facebook know about them
  • Is worried about increased surveillance by the Government
  • Reads Wired magazine and Techdirt regularly
  • Doesn’t trust the Daily Mail’s opinion on how their children should use the internet

Do you have a friend who ticks some or all of these boxes? This is the friend you need to sign-up to ORG.

Then give them some exact specifics about what ORG has done in the past and

There are a couple of solid examples below you can give of how ORG have kept the internet a free and open place for everyone.  There are plenty of others on our website

We have consistently campaigned against default on filters of ‘adult’ content on the internet. We are the only group to produce real evidence on the effect of blocking on the internet: it blocks the wrong content, misses what should be blocked and assumes under-18s, from 5 to 17, and their parents should all have the same level of access.  David Cameron is now backing off from default filtering after a sustained campaign.

We’ve campaigned to make sure information is accessible to all. For instance ensuring that libraries have the right to do e-lending, despite pressure from the publishing industry to limit this capability.

We led a coalition of organisations and individuals engaged with the process for implementing a parody exception to copyright. Parody presents no commercial competition to rightsholders and has great cultural value. We fed this perspective into the Hargreaves review, which recognised the need for reform, and are looking forward to the Government’s proposals soon.

Tell them what it is their money would go to

Some of the specific actions our Legal Officer would enable us to do are:

  • Draft amendments to delete or replace misused powers, such as Section 127 A of the Communications Act 2003, which was used to prosecute Paul Chambers in the Twitter joke trial.
  • Prepare friend of the court briefings to explain the civil liberties consequences of web blocking injunctions.
  • Provide technical advice to the courts where proposals would be unworkable or have unforeseen circumstances.
  • Challenge Government decisions in judicial reviews.
  • This new capacity will enable us to build on the friend of the court briefing on the Digital Economy Act judicial review where we explained the impact on privacy.
  • Expand our legal panel scheme where individuals can request pro-bono legal advice on digital rights issues

Explain how would our new capacity would affect them

There are many day-to-day situations that are directly affected by the laws that ORG want to challenge:

  • When the teasing joke to a friend on Facebook gets the police knocking on your door.
  • When the forum you frequent is accused of libel because of one angry thread, and the owners shut the whole community down in fear of a court case. ORG wants to preserve your freedom of speech online.
  • When you are pregnant and want to get some information on breastfeeding, but maternity sites are blocked for containing for sexual images. ORG have campaigned vigorously against default ‘on’ Internet filters.
  • When the parody video of Buffy killing Edward from Twilight is blocked for copyright reasons. ORG have campaigned for an exception to parody and want to be able to provide pro-bono advice to artists in these situations.
  • When copyright holders demand that whole families are disconnected from the internet because of allegations of copyright infringment. ORG wants this removed from the statue books because it is an expensive and disproportionate law.
  • When the government puts you under surveillance without suspicion. ORG have led the campaign against the Communications Data Bill and its worrying snooping powers.  

Then reiterate why they should sign up

ORG are a small organisation. We’ve achieved a great deal with the resources that we have, but without expanding our staff we won’t be able to expand our remit and achieve all of the above.

We need to be able to hire a legal staff member to give ORG the legal expertise to be your point of call when technology is being used to threaten your civil liberties.