February 12, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Gowers critiqued

Thanks to Jordan Hatcher for reporting an AHRC Research Centre for Studies in IP open forum, which discussed The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. The discussions had a strong Scottish flavour, but the criticisms reproduced here also apply generally.

Gowers' strengths * Improving the research exception in patent law, to bring greater flexibility and greater growth to the sciences). * Copyright exceptions for distance learning and library / archival purposes. * An Office of Fair Trading investigation of collecting societies was welcomed for potential benefits to artists and authors. * Rejection of 'music industry' calls for an extension of the copyright term extension for sound recordings

Gowers' weaknesses * The system of voluntary registration of copyright would not be effective. Most orphan works that museums and libraries (in particular) are interested in are of the type that would never be registered (such as family photos). * The recommendations to improve patent quality are welcome, but unlikely to actually improve patent quality. In addition, the recommendations failed to recognise work that is already ongoing on in this area. * The recommendation for a private copying exception for format shifting is generally unworkable. (How does one regulate the allowance of a single copy per new media format? Creating a legal right to do so would be unlikely to produce change in consumer behaviour. Gowers' structural faults

* Not enough time given to comprehensively review the area of law, or the 440+ public submissions * The Gowers Review was characterised as an instance of ‘evidence influenced ‘ policy making rather than the ‘evidence based’ approach that the Report itself claims to take (although - notes ian Brown - even this is an improvement on the bad old days of 'evidence free' IP policy). * A bigger question, which Gowers failed to address, is which Ministry should be ‘the one’ to deal with IP — although it was suggested that a cross government body on IP may be preferred.

[Read more] (2 comments)

February 11, 2007 | Becky Hogge

Write to your MEP: JURI to vote on IPRED2 at the end of this month

IPRED2, the European Union’s second intellectual property enforcement directive, is going to the vote at the end of this month. The European Parliament’s committee on legal affairs, JURI, will be voting on several amendments to this mammoth bill which threaten to turn IP infringement from a civil offence into a criminal one. Your MEP needs to know now why this is a bad idea.

The FFII are calling IPRED2 “The Prosecution Paradise Directive”:

“All over Europe piracy and counterfeiting of ‘intellectual property rights’ are already prosecutable (TRIPS art 61). The Criminal Measures IP Directive adds disproportionality. The European Commission proposal is not limited to piracy. All commercial scale infringements will be crimes, the proposal criminalises IPR disputes that are essentially of a civil nature and occur between legitimate commercial enterprises. Even untested rights, which may soon evaporate in a civil court cases, become grounds for prosecution. And the rights holders may assist the police.”

The Open Rights Group has written this letter to all the UK MEPs sitting on JURI to express its concern at the proposed directive.

But we need your help too. Please take some time to write to your European representatives and let them know your personal concerns. You can find out who your MEPs are at WriteToThem.

There’s a lot about IPRED2 to object to (and even a little bit to encourage) in the proposed directive. If you focus on one issue and explain how it affects you, your MEP is much more likely to sit up and listen. Keep your letters succinct and polite and if you can, back up what you’re saying with clear references – the FFII IPRED2 website has lists of external opinions and background information, as well as analysis of each of the proposed amendments, which should get you started.

Remember, MEPs, like MPs, are unlikely to appreciate or respond to copy-and-pasted form letters, so please take the time to put down your concerns in your own words. Ask your MEP to forward your concerns to Nicola Zingaretti, the JURI rapporteur, or to their closest JURI colleague.

IPRED2 will criminalise “infringements on a commercial scale”. But what does this actually mean? Amendment 43 says this means “any infringement of an intellectual property right committed to obtain direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage; but excludes acts carried out by private users for personal purposes not centred on profit”. This definition is too broad. Here are some approaches to this issue you might like to consider.

  • The law could criminalise the 35 million Europeans who, according to a report by Forrester research published in February 2004, have downloaded music from filesharing services.
  • It could criminalise professional investigative journalists who may sometimes have to infringe copyright in order to bring important information to the attention of the public.
  • It could criminalise the owners of websites where users provide the content

Alternatively, you might like to write to your MEP in support of Amendments 72 and 74, which ask for a fair use provision to ensure that people who use copyrighted work for teaching, news reporting, research or criticism are not criminalised.

Whatever you choose to write, please let us know if your MEP responds.

[Read more] (4 comments)

February 07, 2007 | Becky Hogge

South Warwickshire clinicians sharing smart cards

Last week, news emerged that the board of South Warwickshire General Hospitals NHS Trust is allowing clinicians in their Accident and Emergency department to share smart cards. Apparently, at an average of between 60 and 90 seconds, login times were compromising efficiency in this very busy hospital department.

Although Connecting for Health had previously advised that sharing of smartcards is considered misconduct and could result in disciplinary action (see this July 2006 .doc briefing note), in a statement issued on 1 February they appeared to back off from this advice, suggesting that “responsibility for the security of patient information ultimately lies with individual Trusts, hospitals and NHS organisations.”

And although the BMA’s GP IT subcommittee spokesman, Paul Cundy told Computer Weekly magazine the actions of the trust “drive a coach and horses through the so-called privacy in the new systems”, CfH stated there was “no question of the confidentiality of patient data having been compromised by South Warwickshire General Hospitals NHS Trust.”

Even when you’re not in a life or death situation, over a minute is a long time to wait to log in. CfH is now working with its suppliers to reduce log in time to something that works in practice as well as in theory.

In the meantime, this story raises one vital question: where in the NHS does ultimate responsibility for patient privacy lie?

[Read more] (2 comments)

February 07, 2007 | Suw Charman Anderson

links for 2007-02-07

[Read more]

February 07, 2007 | Suw Charman Anderson

New account

As you might have spotted, we have now set up a account for ORG which will post links once a day to this blog. If you have a account yourself and you want to bring something to our attention, just tag it for:OpenRightsGroup. Then one of us will look at the link and decide whether to include it in our bookmarks. We'll try not to flood the blog with links, but if it turns out that there are more links that we can deal with in these daily blog posts, then we'll rejig the template and put the links in the sidebar. Please do let us know if you'd prefer that!

[Read more]

February 06, 2007 | Suw Charman Anderson

links for 2007-02-06

[Read more] (1 comments)

February 02, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Nuffield Council on Bioethics' consultation - 'Forensic use of bioinformation: ethical issues'

Our submission to this consultation is available here

[Read more]

January 29, 2007 | Jason Kitcat

May 2007 e-Voting Pilots Announced

Finally, two months behind schedule, the Government has announced which local authorities will be running e-voting pilots. The programme is small compared to 2003, when 14 authorities trialled remote e-voting. This year there will be only 5, with a further 6 authorities testing e-counting. We hear that many authorities weren't keen to risk e-voting in their areas, which in itself is good news.

The Government has released no information about the types of technologies or the suppliers that will be used in May 2007. This makes it difficult for us to fully assess the risks these pilots will pose to elections in those areas. In the meantime, to learn more, please do come along to our free e-voting events starting 6th February with a screening of the superb Hacking Democracy.

Also, as if by magic, we can reveal our brand new ORG e-voting microsite - dive in!

[Read more] (13 comments)

: 3 Ways to Improve Democratic Participation in Scotland-->
  • June 28: ORG Edinburgh: Social with Chief Operating Officer Martha Dark
  • ORG Aberdeen: Cryptonoise May 2018
  • ORG Glasgow: A discussion of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • ORG Aberdeen: March Cryptonoise event