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Press releases

Press releases

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 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 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.'s 20 best-selling DVDs as of 1 July 20114.'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 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).

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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 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 It seems insane that there is even deliberation about this.”

Harry Metcalfe is available for interview. Please call 07790 559876 or email


the campaign website

link to pdc consultation

wider open data policy consultation (in contradiction with above) 

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

Further information: Javier Ruiz / 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."



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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."


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July 28, 2011 | Jim Killock

Newzbin block: pointless and dangerous

Reacting to the decision of the courts to instruct BT to block Newzbin, Peter Bradwell, Copyright Campaigner at the Open Rights Group said:

"Website blocking is pointless and dangerous. These judgements won't work to stop infringement or boost creative industries. And there are serious risks of legitimate content being blocked and service slowdown. If the goal is boosting creators' ability to make money from their work then we need to abandon these technologically naive measures, focus on genuine market reforms, and satisfy unmet consumer demand."

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April 20, 2011 | Jim Killock

Judicial Review : Digital Economy Act decision

Reacting to the Judicial Review decision, Peter Bradwell, Campaigner at Open Rights Group, said:

"It is important to remember that this is not a judgement on whether the Digital Economy Act is good public policy. We still believe that if enacted the Act will hurt people's privacy and access to the Internet for no proven gain. We hope that BT and TalkTalk will appeal and we will support them if they do."

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January 04, 2011 | Jim Killock

BT could be endangering the Open Internet

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

"We are talking about ISPs competing with the Internet for content delivery. Whether films, music or gaming services, the idea is that ISPs will deliver content better and more reliably than the Internet. That says a lot about the state of investment in our Internet.

"The result could be a fundamental shift away from buying services from the Internet to bundled services from ISPs: which would reduce competition and take investment away from Internet companies. That would be bad for everyone."

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December 16, 2010 | Jim Killock

BPI members profits up: calls for clampdowns are immoral

Reacting to the BPI's latest push for Internet users to be surveilled and cut off from the Internet, Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

“The BPI are whinging that massive growth in their members’ profits in the middle of a recession isn't good enough.

“Instead of placing their fullest efforts into building their business in an open market, they argue for measures that would curtail innocent people's human rights in order to increase their profits. That is immorral.”

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