When the government mailed half the nation's bank details to the darknet at the end of last year, it looked like 2008 was going to be the year privacy issues hit the headlines. But, when it comes to digital rights stories, privacy has been seeing stiff competition from that old foe of the digital society: regressive intellectual property policy.
At the beginning of this week, The Times leaked a DCMS document that promised tough action on illicit filesharers via a disproportionate and ineffective "3 strikes and you're out" model of disconnection.
Then yesterday, over in Brussels, Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy resurrected the zombie of copyright term extension in sound recordings. McCreevy said he "had not seen a convincing reason" why term should not be extended from 50 to 95 years. Must we therefore conclude that he has not read the research commissioned by his own Directorate that shows that term extension makes no sense?
If you're feeling the need to brush up on all of this, then you're in luck. The Oxford Internet Institute, encouraged by ORG Advisory Council member Dr Ian Brown, and in partnership with the London School of Economics, have just announced an afternoon of talks entitled "Musicians, fans and online copyright". Here's the blurb:
Is home downloading killing music? Should Internet Service Providers monitor customers to try and spot copyright infringement, and disconnect downloaders? Do musicians need new laws to benefit from the opportunities of the internet? Join us to debate these questions and more with leading copyright thinkers from the music world, government, consumer groups and universities.
It's happening on Wednesday, 19 March, from 1400-1730 at LSE's Old Theatre on Houghton Street. I'll be speaking, along with confirmed speakers John Kennedy (IFPI), Paul Sanders (Playlouder), Lilian Edwards (Southampton University), Rufus Pollock (Cambridge University) and Michelle Childs (Knowledge Ecology International). Entry is free, but you'll need to register here if you want to attend.