Supporter update - January 2009

Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporter update. In this edition:

- Jim Killock is our new Executive Director - - Sound Copyright builds opposition to term extension - - Student elections briefing pack - - Volunteering for ORG - - Press - - Events - - Thanks -



  • Jim Killock is our new Executive Director


We have recruited an excellent successor to replace Becky Hogge as Executive Director of the Open Rights Group. Jim Killock started working with the staff and volunteers at the beginning of January and is already building up our policy positions and profile as well as our supporter and other information systems. We wish Jim the very best of luck and also to Becky for her future projects. To get a sense of Jim's initial plans, please have a read of his inaurgural post and interview.


  • Sound Copyright builds opposition to term extension


As we approach key votes on the term extension directive, ORG is generating significant public opposition to this scandalous proposal. This month we co-hosted a conference for MEPs and activists at the European Parliament and co-ordinated representatives of consumers, citizens and libraries around the world to condemn the proposal. In addition, our new animation explains how the proposal actually works and who really stands to benefit: copyright extension will not ensure recording artists earnings but instead subsidise major labels' ailing business models. We'll have a video of the conference up shortly and more actions to get you involved in the campaign.


  • Student elections briefing pack


ORG believes that if an election claims to be anonymous and democratic, then it actually should be. Our latest elections publication (link to PDF) presents some of the technical and practical issues associated with online voting, with a specific focus on Students Unions (SUs) in the UK. It is clear that there are many ways in which online voting significantly increases the risk of error, fraud and voter coercion. Online voting may not, as is often intended, increase student engagement with SUs and boost voter turnout. Please circulate the link to your student friends, particularly if involved with SUs.


  • Volunteering for ORG


One of our main organisational aims is fostering a community of digital rights activists and we now have close to 100 regular volunteer contributors, with many more on the fringes. If you want to get more involved then please find a job that suits your skills on our public list of tasks or come along to our next volunteer meeting. Please note there’s a dedicated volunteer mailing list and Facebook group. Press relations

Every week, we spend time talking to the media and connecting them with experts or giving an alternate point of view on current issues. Please see the press archive for more details.

  • ZeroPaid - 'Exclusive: ZeroPaid Interviews Open Rights Group'
  • In his first interview for ORG, Jim Killock talked to Drew Wilson about his vision to bridge the gap between technology users and the authorities who regulate information systems. Jim also went into some detail on recent developments for our priority campaigns and how we're building capacity to get more people involved with our actions.


The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) wants Government intervention to protect their businesses from changes in the way we consume music. ORG argues instead that, "Growing online sales show the recording industry can win against illicit file sharing," and that retailers stand to earn greater revenues and reduce copyright infringement if they offer a user-experience similar to P2P.



David Cronin reports from the European Parliament, where MEPs joined ORG to reject the term extension directive. The fairy story of the poor performer about to lose his main source of income doesn't stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny. It is instead the four major record labels who will benefit from this law, at the expense of consumers and smaller record labels.



MarkJ rounds up some responses to the consultation on p2p filesharing, highlighting disagreement over the regulation of online content distribution. The ORG recommendation quoted, although not our main contention - that the marketplace should be left to resolve the issue, is for legal sanctions against those who falsely accuse individuals of filesharing. Events The very best way to stay updated on ORG-esque events is with our Upcoming group. Here's some particularly exciting events happening in the next month or so:


  • Modern Liberty is a call to all concerned with the threats to our fundamental rights and freedoms, from our own State, from terrorism and the responses to terrorism and from the gathering financial crisis. Nationwide, 28 February.


  • BarcampUKGovweb09 is an event for those working in and around, or simply interested in, UK government online. It is an opportunity for people with a wide variety of skills, experiences and perspectives to share their knowledge and get to know each other. London, 31 January.



  • Glitch is a "30 minute black comedy performance set in an imaginary near future. A lone woman traveller finds herself trapped in a holding cell during an automated security check. Rather than succumb to the totalitarian surveillance, she attempts to outwit the machine and make a bid for freedom - hopefully in one piece..." Created and performed by actress Lois Tucker. London, various dates in February.


Meet the volunteers

Adam Giles has volunteered for us from the early days and has developed, amongst other online tools, our Facebook page. Adam is also one of our most generous funders. Here's his take on the importance of ORG and digital rights:

"For me, digital rights come next. We've sorted human rights and civil & political rights, and while we still need to remain vigilant against any breaches of these existing rights, it's digital rights that will form the basis of how we move forward in the coming centuries. The laws that codify these rights are being debated and written right now, usually by politicians who need help understanding the real issues at stake. If we are to avoid bad laws in turn leading to the erosion of our rights, purely because they take place in a digital medium, then organisations like the Open Rights Group are essential. This is why I was founder #412 and continue to give them my full support."


Although many people contributed to Open Rights Group this month, it feels right to dedicate this section, normally used for acknowledging volunteer efforts, to our outgoing Executive Director, Becky Hogge. Rather than gush on about her exceptional clarity of thought and speech, forthright manner and good sense in all things (particularly recruitment, garments and baked goods), its enough to say a simple thanks and that she will be dearly missed.