Supporter Newsletter

April 24, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Supporters Update - February 2007


  • A date for your diary: Wednesday 11 April

Please keep this date free in your diary for an extra special Support ORG! (and party) London evening event. It's a chance to meet ORG supporters, volunteers and staff and enjoy public domain DJs, remixed visuals and free culture goodie bags. The rub? We want you to bring along a friend you want to turn into an ORG supporter. Includes very special guest speaker to be announced.

  • e-Voting campaign gets off to a flying start

ORG held a week of e-voting events at the beginning of February, including a screening of 'Hacking Democracy' at UCL, and a series of presentations by e-voting activists from across Europe and the United States. The event, which was covered by the BBC's Digital Planet, gave us a great opportunity to learn from the successes of other groups. We are now planning our campaign for the May pilots. Please visit the e-voting microsite to find out how you can help. Sir Alistair Graham, who chairs the Committee on Standards in Public Life, has already done his bit, by calling for the pilots to come to an immediate halt.

  • National DNA Database consultation response

ORG submitted a response to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics about ethical issues surrounding forensic bioinformation, with a particular focus on the growing use (and misuse) of the National DNA Database. Our response is now being circulated to the members of their Working Group. The Council plans to publish their report into these issues later this year - we'll keep you updated.

  • Freedom of Information Act and the BBC iPlayer - more consultations

ORG is currently working on two more responses to consultations: a Government consultation into amendments to the Freedom of Information Act , and a response to the BBC's On Demand Services Consultation. The proposed FOI Act amendments could keep valuable information out of the public sphere. And the BBC's provisional proposals for new iPlayer services have caused uproar thanks to the suggestion that they might only be available to Windows Media Player users. If you feel strongly about either of these issues, please help us respond.

  • IPRED2, or “The Prosecution Paradise Directive”

The European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee, JURI, are scheduled to vote on IPRED2 next month, after much delay. The directive could make all types of intellectual property infringement a criminal offence. ORG wrote to all the UK members of JURI expressing our deep concern.

Press Relations

Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving them an alternate point of view on current issues.

International Herald Tribune: 'Auto insurance set by when and where you drive' Thomas Crampton, with help from ORG, dissects the public enthusiasm for letting data about where and when they drive be logged by their friendly insurance company.

BBC: 'Will Apple pick iTunes locks?' A huge story this month. Steve Jobs claims he wants to drop DRM, but the major record labels will not let him. More a business decision than good sense prevailing, but a good moment for digital rights, as ORG gets a chance to highlight the anti-competitive and anti-consumer nature of DRM.

ZDNet: 'Government rejects calls for DRM ban' The government has responded to 1,414 petitioners who called for DRM to be outlawed with nonsense that these restrictions in fact provide good value. ORG points out that DRM does not respect user's rights so is bad for consumers.

BBC: 'Net giant supports open ID scheme' ORG board members Ben Laurie and Rufus Pollock comment on AOL's decision to back Open ID.

Slashdot: 'IPRED2 - Open Rights Group vs. Their Rights Online' Draft European legislation will criminalise copyright infringement that takes place on a 'commercial scale'. Yet another law which serves the corporate interest in protecting 'content' by restricting the public interest in sharing cultural obects.

Lots more articles listed on the ORG wiki


Saturday 3 March: BarCamp Scotland, Edinburgh An ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment

Wednesday 7 March: ORG volunteer meeting, London Want to devote some of your time/skills/expertise to ORG as well as your cash? Come along to our volunteers meeting to find out what we're up to on e-voting and post-Gowers IP campaigning. Meeting starts at 6.30pm - email michael[at] for more details.

Saturday 17 March: Open Knowledge 1.0, London Bringing together individuals and groups from across the open knowledge spectrum, including panels on open media, open geodata and open scientific and civic information.

Saturday 24 March: NO2ID Gala Benefit, Glasgow Heard the one about the government who want to force you to spend 90 odd quid on being branded like cattle? Join the top name performers who say 'No2ID' in this benefit show.

Wednesday 11 April: Support ORG! (and party), London A chance to meet ORG supporters and staff and enjoy public domain DJs, remixed visuals and free culture goodie bags. The rub? We want you to bring along a friend you want to turn into an ORG supporter. Includes very special guest speaker to be announced.

Mini-links We're always looking to make new links with other organisations, and publicise and assist in digital rights issues wherever we find them. If you know something you think ORG should be involved in, or the wider supporter network should know about, mail us at links[at] Or better still, tag it 'openrightsgroup' in or on your blog. We'll pick it up.

  • The Freedom Task Force A new project to provide licensing services to individuals, projects and businesses involved with Free Software.

  • The National Open Centre (NOC) A brand new national policy institute investigating ways to make effective use of Open Source Software and Open Standards (OS&S) in government and industry.

[Read more]

April 24, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Supporters Update - January 2007


  • Becky Hogge joins as our new Executive Director

Becky joined us on 15 January as our new Executive Director. She is ORG's first, full time member of staff. Says Becky "I'm really enjoying myself so far, although I won't pretend it isn't difficult gaining pace with all of ORG's ongoing activities. Suw's been a fantastic support during my first two weeks here, and I can't thank her enough. What's struck me most is the incredible level of enthusiasm among volunteers and supporters for what ORG is doing. It's just fantastic, and it really keeps me going."

  • e-Voting Campaign begins

On 29 January, the Department for Constitutional Affairs announced plans for e-voting pilots - including telephone and internet voting - for the May 2007 local elections . ORG was ready for them. Our new microsite contains everything you need to know about the perils of e-voting, and suggests ways to take action. We're now busily preparing for our season of e-voting related events, which starts on 6 February with a free screening of 'Hacking Democracy'. If you're in or around London next week, please drop by and say hello.

  • Taking the Term Extension battle to Europe

We're still glowing from the success of our Release the Music campaign in December, and the effectiveness of our submissions to the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. But we're not resting on our laurels. And neither is the music industry. Whilst they feed the press with stories about IP enforcement, ORG is working behind the scenes with partners in Europe to make sure the Gowers message gets through. Expect to hear more in February and March.

Press relations

Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving them an alternate point of view on current issues.

Vnunet 'Evidence guides Gowers to strike the right balance on copyright' "I think generally that the report makes some good recommendations and I am glad to see that making a private copy is now accepted," said Suw Charman of the Open Rights Group copyright campaign. More Gowers reaction...

Radio 1 Newsbeat> IFPI wants DRM on downloads to be "interoperable", but think "the market should decide". What can they mean? - A report about DRM including a short interview with Becky Hogge. ORG reaches a new audience!

The Register 'e-voting to be stripped bare at UCL event' Announcement that the Open Rights Group and the Foundation for Information Policy Research are teaming up to host events to raise awareness of electronic voting.

Slashdot: 'British E-Voting Pilots Announced' ORG's campaign against e-voting gets dissected on Slashdot, and survives! ZDNet 'Digital rights group slams e-voting' Jason Kitcat talks to ZDNet's David Meyer about what could go wrong in the May 2007 pilots.

Lots more articles listed on the ORG wiki. Special thanks to Jason Kitcat, ORG's e-voting campaign coordinator, for all his work with the press this month.


We're always looking to make new links with other organisations, and publicise and assist in digital rights issues wherever we find them. If you know something you think ORG should be involved in, or the wider supporter network should know about, mail us at links[at] Or better still, tag it "openrightsgroup" in or on your blog. We'll pick it up.

[Read more]

April 24, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Supporters Update - December 2006


  • Becky Hogge appointed as our new Executive Director

Becky Hogge will take over from Suw Charman as ORG’s Executive Director in January 2007. Becky joins us from Open Democracy and has been a campaigning journalist in digital rights for several years, with considerable experience in bootstrapping young organisations. She says that she's very excited to be joining us, and looking forward to building on our achievements and continuing to expand our campaigning work.

Suw will move to the ORG Board, but will continue blogging and policy writing. Her contribution to ORG's first year cannot be overstated; her passion and understanding have been key to establishing ORG as a force to be reckoned with.

  • Release the Music

We launched Open Rights Group's campaign against copyright term extension for sound recordings in November. The main event was an evening of debate, including contributions from Jonathan Zittrain, Oxford University, Dave Rowntree from Blur, Caroline Wilson from Southampton University School of Law, Richard Mollet from the BPI, Martin Talbot from Music Week and John Howkins from the Adelphi Charter. Other events included a press conference and MP briefing. You will find literature and links on the issue on the campaign website, where you are also invited to sign (and distribute) our petition. Audio recordings of the speech are available in MP3 and OGG format, likewise the debate is available in MP3 and OGG. We're working on the video - the first half of the evening is available, the rest still being edited. More on the successes of this campaign below...

  • Gowers response

The report of the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property has now been published. We warmly welcome many of the recommendations, particularly the need for a private copying exception and the rejection of the music industry's calls for extension of the term of copyright for sound recordings. We are, however, concerned about some of the recommendations on enforcement of intellectual property rights.

In addition, the press (the Guardian in particular) have praised ORG's constructive role in the Review process, whilst the reaction from Big Media to the publication has made it clear they are not always concerned with the public interest.

  • ORG's first year is nearly over - and we need more supporters!

We have had an exceptional year since we started accepting donations last January. Yes, that's right, a whole year has gone by! But our continued work depends heavily on income from you, our supporters. If you were one of the kind people who donated £60 for the year last January or February, or if you donate by PayPal, please consider taking out a standing order for £5 or £10 a month. Monthly standing orders are by far and away the best way to support our work, because they let us plan our activities knowing how much income we are going to get, and we aren't charged fees.

Please help us recruit new supporters too, perhaps by forwarding on this email, or the link to our 'Support Us' page. Every new member we sign up will help us to campaign on issues like evoting and copyright reform. There is so much more we could be doing on such a broad range of issues, but the extent of our activities is restricted by our limited resources. Maybe a friend, family member or colleague is interested, and would happily support us with a little encouragement, or perhaps you want to make a gift of a membership. We have not yet reached 1000 paying supporters, so there's still time to secure your status in the 'Founding 1000'. (In the New Year, we'll be figuring out what perks that status gives you!)

Press relations

Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving them an alternate point of view on current issues.

Information World Review 'Jack of all trades, master of the ORG' - Suw Charman, our out-going (in both senses of the word) Executive Director, spoke with Jane Dudman about her work with ORG (erratum in that article: Suw is paid £1000 per month, although started off working pro bono).

BBC Radio 5 Live 'E.U. Tube' - Kevin Marks, member of the ORG Advisory Council, spoke on BBC Radio 5 Live about European proposals for the regulation of video on the net.

BBC Online 'Gates: Digital Locks too complex' - Suw Charman: it was a "bit rich of Bill Gates to make his comments given how much DRM is stuffed into Windows Vista", the new operating system from Microsoft.

The Guardian 'Chancellor offers £5m for pursuit of pirates' - Dave Rowntree, drummer with Blur and a member of the Open Rights Group, said: "The idea of a private copying exception is long overdue and, together with a proposal for orphaned works and the transformative works and parody exceptions, it will make for a more robust copyright law which encourages creativity rather than stifles it."

BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour 'Report on E Voting' - Jason Kitcat of the Open Rights Group highlights the increased risk of electoral fraud. Bridget Prentice the Minister responsible for the e-voting pilots was also interviewed.

The New York Times 'British Library calls for digital copyright action' - The Open Rights Group, a digital civil-rights organization, said it "whole-heartedly supported" the British Library's call for a clarification of copyright law." "One of the key problems is that the limitations and exceptions to copyright law are being ignored by business, which is imposing restrictive licenses on digital content,"

Lots more articles listed on the ORG wiki. ORG got 11 mentions in December, 15 in November, and 7 in October. Not bad going!


  • is an information platform of organisations and individuals concerned about the direct and collateral damage of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). A collaborative activity initiated and maintained by the Free Software Foundation Europe.

[Read more]

April 06, 2007 | Michael Holloway

Supporters Update - September 2006


  • All Party Parliamentary Internet Group issues DRM report
Last year, the Open Rights Group submitted written evidence to the All Party Internet Group's public inquiry into digital rights management after carrying out its own public consultation into questions raised by the call for evidence. Then, in February this year, ORG gave oral evidence to the APIG DRM inquiry, giving a concise statement regarding ORG's position as well as answering further questions from the panel of legislators.

APIG's report was launched in early June and can now be downloaded as a PDF (30 pages) from APIG's website, or alternatively a more concise summary can be read on the ORG website. The report makes refreshing reading compared to previous government documents in this area, and includes demands for consumer safeguards. Other reports from GrokLaw and ZDNet.

  • Volunteer Meeting
We had our third ORG Volunteer meeting on 28th June, where we discussed new projects and existing work to be on on the ORG site and servers. We now have around a dozen people helping out with ORG and doing the essential stuff that keeps us running on a day to day basis, as well as working on upcoming campaigns, editing the wiki, and providing research support.

If you are interested in coming to the next ORG Volunteer meeting, please email Michael Holloway at michael[at], or keep a look out for emails on the Discuss and Announce lists.

More details about past meetings on the volunteers page of the ORG wiki

  • Computer Law World Conference
ORG's meeting at Edinburgh University, in conjunction with the Computer Law World Conference was a great success. Around 30 legal academics and lawyers from all over the world met over wine and nibbly things to socialise and discuss digital rights. The event was particularly focussed on recruiting legal advisors willing to volunteer their services. Anyone with legal knowledge interested in signing up for the Org-Law list should email Jordan Hatcher (jordan at
  • Protect your bits. Support ORG
You may have seen the new ORG badges that we've created for you to put on your blog or website, but if not, please take a look and put them on your site/blog. We currently have 650 people supporting ORG, but we still need an additional 350 to bring us up to 1000. We must reach our original target, and are giving the first thousand people who give us money the special status of 'Founding 1000'. (By the way, if you have any ideas about what perks we can give the Founding 1000, please email Michael at the above address.)

So, if you have a blog, or are on any relevant mailing lists, please tell people about ORG, and put a badge on your blog.

  • Advisory Council Meeting
We have also held two meetings of our Advisory Council, who help us to examine and prioritise our work. The first two meetings went extremely well, and we will be holding another one in about three months' time, before which we will release a policy report.

Press relations Every month, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving them an alternate point of view on current issues.

  • Music Industry Propose a Tax on ISPs
We spent a lot of time this week crafting a press release to provide a counter to the music industry's ill-conceived suggestion of an ISP tax, which they think would make up for sales they say they have lost because of illegal file sharing.

Our concerns were picked up by The Guardian , Out-Law, and PC Pro.

  • BPI Tries to Bully ISPs into Disconnecting Customers
We also had something to say about the BPI's attempts to bully Tiscali and Cable & Wireless into disconnecting customers on the flimsiest of evidence. PC Pro and eHomeUpgrade carried our comments.
  • Random Mentions
We also got a few mentions regarding other issues.

New Statesmen - Fighting for e-freedom. Digital rights are human rights for the web age. Let's make them sexy, argues Becky Hogge

BBC - Group Battles for Digital Rights - 'An organisation committed to fighting for people's digital rights in the UK is celebrating its first birthday,' by Darren Water

Financial Times - Crunch time for Apple's music icon - Pressure on Apple Computer to open its closed system of the iTunes digital music store and the iPod music player is spreading across Europe, by T Braithwaite and K Allison - Plans for new broadcasting rights anger podcasters - The UK, US, BBC and Yahoo all back a controversial new broadcasting treaty that opponents say gives big media companies new rights over content

  • Audio interviews:
Suw also did a long audio interview with eHomeUpgrade

In The Works

That's not all. We are also planning a campaign against the music industry's lobbying for further extension of the term or duration of copyright in sound recordings. We'll also be extolling the virtues of the Public Domain, so if you want to get involved, please contact Michael.

Copyfighters Drunken Brunch and Talking Shop

The next London Copyfighters' Drunken Brunch and Talking Shop will be held on Sunday 16th July. We will meet upstairs at the Mason's Arms, 51 Upper Berkeley Street, Marble Arch at 12noon for brunch. The Mason's Arms is on the corner of Berkeley Street and Seymour Place.

Once we are suitably lubricated (at around 2pm) we will, en masse, go to Speaker's Corner and orate on the subject of copyright, DRM, the weather, whatever. Speaking isn't mandatory, but it IS highly encouraged. ORG's very own Danny O'Brien will officiate.

Please sign up on the wiki if you are coming, or just turn up.


A German court indicated that neither short excerpts nor scanning of the publisher's books in the US was an infringement Senior security experts and certain enlightened Lords claim proposed legislation could criminalise both the police and innocent IT professionals who either build or make available programs later used for hacking.

More on amendments to the Computer Misuse Act

Britain's film censor plans to help parents protect their children by expanding its remit to cover internet content Plans for a 'two-tier' internet gather pace in the US as a Senate committee approves a bill which may enable ISPs to offer differential access. The home life of every child in the country is to be recorded on a national database. Computer records holding details of school performance, diet and even whether their parents provide a 'positive role model' for 12 million children will be held by the Government.

More on the ORG wiki on Children's Digital Rights

A new Spanish law bans the use of unauthorised file sharing networks for personal use. However there is a campaign to get the law repealed, which so far has over 250,000 signatures - sign it here A European Bill, commonly known as IPRED2 is dealt a serious blow by the Dutch Parliament.

Read more on IPRED on the ORG wiki

Giving the interests of the RIAA / BPI a higher priority than those of your customers? An interesting and inspiring movie has just been released about The Pirate Bay - the biggest Bittorrent filesharing website in the world, that millions of internet users download music, books and most prominently films via. Its not only a technical revolution in the distribution of media but, as the film argues, a cultural and social innovation in the way we access media. Q: What tools can be used to deliver the environmental contract? A: A spade, organic yoghurt stirrer, old washing up liquid bottle, sticky back plastic. An opportunity for activists to challenge the dominance by private / corporate concerns of EU policy ?

[Read more]