Supporter Newsletter: October 2014

This month we are celebrating three brilliant wins as we bring transparency to web blocking on several fronts and format shifting and parody came into law. Plus, an opportunity to get free tickets to ORGCon2014.

Free ORGCon2014 tickets & three big successes

There are lots of reasons to join ORG. You can read below about our amazing successes: legal interventions achieving protections for transparency and mistakes. We’ve raised money to take the Error 451 project forward and Parliament brought format shifting and parody into law!

But right now there’s one excellent bonus reason to give us your support: A free ticket for ORGCon2014 to see Cory Doctorow and others give inspirational talks.


ORGCon is our annual conference for the digital rights community and a  great opportunity to see some of the legends of digital rights speak. Plus we have have a plethora of expert presenters from across the broad range of online rights interests – journalists, businesses, hackers, academics politicians, lawyers, activists!

Take a look at some of the interesting sessions at ORGCon2014:

You can see all this for FREE if you join ORG today:

(Details on your free ticket are in your welcome email. Alternatively buy your ticket here.)

Success 1:
Error 451 project makes court orders public

We would like to say a big thank you to all those who donated in response to our request to help us obtain and transcribe court orders on blocked websites. We're delighted to say that thanks to you we exceeded our target, receiving over £1,590.

Elizabeth, our Legal Director, recently went to the High Court and was able to collect 35 blocking orders ready to be transcribed. We’re proud to be able to finally start work on the transcription and make this information public. The first 6 have now been put up on our Error 451 site:

However, there are many physical pages of legalese that needs to be written up and made transparent.  If you have some legal experince and the time to help us transcribe the orders we would be very grateful.  It’s a big task, but with a Wikipedia-style team of volunteers we can make web blocking open.

If you are able to offer some time please get in touch by emailing

Success 2:
Format shifting and parody legal at last

On 1 October 2014, new rules for personal copying, parody, and quotation came into force in the UK.

This was a major victory for ORG after seven years of campaigning for these reforms. A big thank you to everyone who helped make this happen!

The first new exception for ‘personal copying’ means you can now backup your music collection, or even format shift it, (eg. turning CDs into MP3s) so long as it’s for your personal use. Breaking DRM, the anti-copying technology often built into DVDs and other media, is still unlawful. However, the legislation does allow you to apply to the Secretary of State if you want to remove the Digital Rights Management (DRM) access controls.

The law also includes a parody exception, which means you can use copyright material in order to create a spoof, pastiche or parody.

It's a brilliant win which means that comedy and criticial pastiche are at last protected. You can read more details about the new law here:

Success 3:
ORG's safeguards accepted in website blocking case

ORG's intervention had a significant impact on a landmark case about internet trade mark infringement that was handed down 2 weeks ago by the High Court in London.

The court decided that it could orders ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to block specific websites selling fake goods.

However, Mr Justice Arnold adopted the key ORG submission that such orders should always contain safeguards against abuse.
He also adopted ORG’s proposals that information on the blocking should be included on landing pages and there should be “sunset clauses” as safeguards against abuse. He thanked ORG for its “brief, moderate and helpful” written submissions. We're very pleased to be taking on this kind of work, and making an important impact on web blocking transparency.

David Allen Green, lawyer at Preiskel & Co LLP, who acted for ORG pro bono said that "We hope that this intervention will go some way to help ensure that future claimants cannot use blocking orders to restrict legitimate activity or free speech.”

The case was covered in the Guardian and Bloomberg, and you can read more details about it in our blog

Quick Fire News

As part of the 2014 Privacy and Security Inquiry, the ISC (Intelligence and Security Commitee) called witnesses to give statements on Tuesday and Wednesday. Among the witnesses called was Jim Killock, ORG's Executive Director, who spoke about how security services are undermining security for all through introducing backdoors, and the need for stronger oversight.

ORG Co-founder and Advisory Council member Cory Doctorow gave talks to ORG's local groups in Sheffield and Manchester this month. The Manchester group hosted at Waterstones as part of the literary festival and had great attendance, with book signings and lots of questions. You can get involved with your local ORG Group and put on events like this.

ORG has applied to intervene in the case brought by MPs Tom Watson and David David against the Government on the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act. The Government rushed the Act through Parliament earlier this year.

On 4 October, twenty people got together for ORG's digital-rights hack-day at Mozilla's community space in Covent Garden. Find out what happened and how you can help take the projects we started further. 

ORG out and about

Freeing the Internet: How hard can it be? Thursday, November 6, 2014 6:30 PM
Join ORG Manchester and Open Data Manchester for a talk on the evolution of the internet from Wendy M. Grossman - an award-winning journalist wars between cyberspace and real life for 20 years
MadLab 36-40 Edge Street, Manchester

Practical Privacy Tools for Everyone; Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 7:00 PM
Bring your laptops, phones and other devices. ORG Sheffield will help you to install and understand tools you can use to maintain your privacy online.
Access Space Unit 1, AVEC Building, 3-7 Sidney Street, Sheffield S1 4RG, Sheffield

15th - 16th November,
10:00 AM -5:30 PM
ORG’s annual conference is a brilliant place to meet other ORG supporters and to hear from incredible speakers on digital rights topics.
15th: Franklin, Wilkins Building, King's College London, Waterloo 
16th: The Foundry, Oval 

Open Source and the Cloud for Business 18th November, 14:00
ORG supporters from Brighton are organising and attending an event on Open Source and the Cloud for businesses and the public sector.
Sussex County Cricket Club, Hove, BN3 3AN

Join ORG today!

Join today and help us do even more to fight to protect fundamental rights like privacy and free speech.

YOU are what makes our work possible. Without support from donations we wouldn't be able to do any of the above work.

Thank you for your support of digital rights!