Supporters update - February 2008

Welcome to the latest Open Rights Group supporters update


  • Term extension: sign the European petition today
  • The record company's lobbyists failed to convince Andrew Gowers and the UK government to increase their monopoly powers in 2006. So they jumped on the Eurostar to Brussels and set to work on the European Commissioners, where, despite a lack of evidence for their plea, they had considerably more success. Ever alert to the call to action, we are back on the case of the term-extenders with the brand new Sound Copyright campaign website, jointly developed with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Please sign our petition, write to your MP and spread the word to help regenerate the campaign against extension. This last bit - where you spread the word - is really, really important: by acting early and decisively we hope to stop this proposal before it builds momentum.

  • Open-IP: Creative Business seminars are fully subscribed
  • Public reaction to our Creative Business seminars, which explore how the creative industries are using the Internet to innovate, has been really encouraging. The applicants come from a broad cross-section of creative enterprises and seem excited by our blend of open theory and practice. The seminars themselves take place in March so we will link to both the CC-licensed course materials as well as audio recordings from the sessions in the next update. In the meantime, keep using the project's blog (6) and wiki where you can both read and contribute to our research.

  • Volunteer activities
  • The February volunteer meeting was another cracker. We plotted our copyright term campaign, the Barcamp Brighton ORG hack and a range of other endeavours. So a big thanks to all the guys and girls who joined us, especially the new faces and those who agreed to forge on with their alloted tasks. The next meeting will be in 6 weeks time, on Thursday 3 April.

  • Consultations
  • Ignoring the onset of consultation fatigue, we submitted to two inquiries this month. On the 'data-sharing' review (10), we urged the government to find more imaginative ways to meet the challenge digital technologies pose to our privacy. And on the European Commission's 'content online' consultation, we said "no" to DRM, "no" to 3 strikes and you're out and "hmmm, interesting" to multi-territory licensing. Following a cordial meeting with the UK Intellectual Property Office, we are working together with a group of academics and veteran activists towards out submission to the copyright exceptions consultation and would love more ideas and comments from the community at the usual place.

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. A comprehensive list of ORG's appearances in the press is available on the wiki.

  • The Times - 'New lease of life for ageing rock stars'
  • Dan Sabbagh reports on the proposals to introduce copyright term by EU Internal Market chieftain, Charlie McCreevy. The Open Rights Group were on hand to point out that "a handful of artists will get most of the rewards, and it is not clear this will benefit the economy." The article also notes this extension would tax the music-buying public for the benefit of everybody's favourite hard-lobbying special interest group, the record industry rights holders.

  • The Observer - 'MPs must thwart the dark plans of the state'
  • Henry Porter, a bastion of common sense, wrote this thorough rebuttal of the call for a national, mandatory DNA database. This broad and historical perspective is well worth a read, not least because he references an ORG-endorsed report that "paints a horrific picture of the intensive surveillance of our children who are being conditioned to tolerate the collection of biometric data".

  • IP Watch - 'European Commission seeks copyright extension, new levy debate'
  • Dugie Stanford's thoughtful article also covers the rehashed proposals to extend copyright for sound recordings. The argument this time is based on giving perfomers parity with composers. We say this comparison is an "emotive argument" that ignores the fact that this debate has already been settled on evidence-based grounds by the Hugenholz and Gowers reviews.

  • BBC - 'Rights attack on smart card plan'
  • Moves to introduce a smart card are afoot at the Welsh Assembly Government, aiming to improve user experience of public services like library and travel. Both ORG and No2ID reject the scheme because it is devoid of real public benefit and takes us another step closer to a national ID card scheme.

  • BBC - '3 strikes and you're out'
  • Becky spoke on Radio 4's World at One about leaked proposals to bring France's project to withdraw the internet connection of people suspected of illicitly sharing copyright material online. She pointed out that such proposals are both disproportionate and technically infeasible. No audio is available, but you can read an excerpt of interview on the ORG website.

Mini-links Upcoming special

The very best way to stay updated on ORG-ish events is with our Upcoming group. Here's links to some particularly exciting events happening in the next month or so:

  • OK (Open Knowledge) Con, 15 March
  • "The event will bring together individuals and groups from across the open knowledge spectrum for a day of seminars and workshops around the theme of 'Applications, Tools and Services'."

  • BarCamp Brighton, 15 March
  • An unconference to be held at Sussex University; use their wiki for ticket information, sign-up and to start participating.

  • Musicians, fans and online copyright, 19 March
  • "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?"

  • Social Innovation Camp, 4 April
  • "What happens when you get a bunch of hackers and social innovators together, give them a set of social problems and only 48 hours to solve them?"


Thanks to Jordan, Fernando, Owen and Wendy for taking on the copyright exceptions consultation. Thanks also to Jordan for laying the groundwork on a yet-to-be-named and in-the-works project. And thanks again to Owen for dotting our I's and crossing our T's. Thanks to Danny for getting the Sound Copyright website online quicker than we could say 'widget'. Thanks to Adam for continuing to fettle with our office network. Thanks in advance to James, who maybe helping us out with an upgrade to said office network. Thanks to everyone who participated in this month's volunteer meeting: Chris, Adam, Dot, Sheila, Matthew, Gianluca, Dynamo, Felix, Joss and Glyn. Thanks to Chris and Felix for birthing ORG's 1st widget. An extra special thanks to Glyn and Sheila for giving Michael some much-needed computing lessons. Thanks to Tom, John, Rob and David for agreeing to field questions at this month's Creative Biz seminars. Thanks to Rachel for the webstats and transmedia attitude. Thanks to Paul for sharing his knowledge of the inner-working of the music biz. Thanks to Owen, Cédric, Christoph, Richard and Wendy for helping out with translations for Sound Copyright. And thanks to the Board and Advisory for patronising - in the nicest way - our works.