Britishers, Unite For Internet Justice

By Alec Meer on March 17th, 2010 at 2:52 pm.

Oh Mandy.

The current British government and its friends in the entertainment industry want the power to regulate what we download – and to punish us if they don’t like it. This must not be; while the Digital Economy Bill is posited as protection of copyrighted content – an anti-piracy measure, in other words – its proposed changes to copyright ilaws are terrifying on a level far beyond Bittorrent. You must take a stand against it. Doing so takes about a minute.

Under the bill, your internet connection will be cut off if you’re deemed to have repeatedly infringed copyright. Obviously that’s cruel and unusual punishment in all manner of ways, plus there’s the big issue of IP spoofing. There’s worse, though. Most importantly, it would require your ISP to monitor your downloading habits and to share records of them with copyright holders.

Gamer Law have an excellent round-up of what it all means, here. Crucially:

The Government would then be able to require ISPs to take “technical measures” against the suspected pirate. This seems likely to include wide reaching action like broadband throttling or ultimately even account suspension (though the Government doesn’t intend to specify exactly what “technical measures” means or how they will actually work until after DEB has become law).

It’s a “three-strikes” system, apparently, although it’s not clear how that will be dealt out, policed, or subsequently appealed against.

Furthermore, if the Bill’s major proponent, first secretary of state Peter Mandelson, gets his way, he’ll have the theoretical power to create whatever filesharing laws he (or his backers) see fit. Youtube, mods, fanfiction, Deviantart… It is an attempt to regulate and reduce everything the internet is. There are further unhappy side-effects, such as the possible loss of free coffee shop wifi and increased broadband charges.

Mandelson is trying to bring this draconian, near-sighted bill into being before the general election that’s likely to result in a change of UK government. This must not happen. At the very least, the bill must be scrutinised and modified, not rushed through before that can happen. If you are a resident of the United Kingdom, you must email or write to your MP and request he votes against it in the upcoming second reading.

The excellent people at 38 Degrees offer a fast, clever system that checks your postcode and sends a polite-but-forceful pre-written email to whoever your local MP is – it takes about a minute to do. Do it. There’s a copy of the letter below if you’d rather mail your local politicker directly.

I’m writing to you today because I’m very worried that the Government is planning to rush the Digital Economy Bill into law without a full Parliamentary debate.

The law is controversial and contains many measures that concern me. The controversial Bill deserves proper scrutiny so please don’t let the government rush it through. Many people think it will damage schools and businesses as well as innocent people who rely on the internet because it will allow the Government to disconnect people it suspects of copyright infringement.

Industry experts, internet service providers (like Talk Talk and BT) and huge internet companies like Google and Yahoo are all opposing the bill – yet the Government seems intent on forcing it through without a real debate.

As a constituent I am writing to you today to ask you to do all you can to ensure the Government doesn’t just rush the bill through and deny us our democratic right to scrutiny and debate.

__________________

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396 Comments »

  1. Artur Foden says:

    Im sorry I live in Ireland because I would offer my support to those in the UK who will be affected by this ludicrous proposal. This may seem over the top but I thought that the BNP was the only fascist party in the UK.

    I never thought that greedy old men like those proposing this rubbish could exist without opposition but it seems they are happy to keep the populace ignorant. Looking forward to seeing this DEB fail. Keep us poste RPS

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      What? Are you seriously comparing this to fascism?

    • Wulf says:

      Pushing a Bill through without a full parliamentary debate doesn’t sound like fascism to you? It sure as hell sounds like a fascist action to me, and a real breach of what little democracy we do have.

      People need to drop their Hollywood definitions of things, really. Fascism isn’t what you saw on the silver screen, it doesn’t necessarily need to involve stamping barcodes on the heads of people.

    • drewski says:

      Although that’s fun too.

    • Artur Foden says:

      MalibuStacey yes I am. Remember the UK’s form of democracy isn’t the same as other democracies such as the US one. In the UK you are not entitled to freedom of speech if its offensive to minorities (Racism basically, and no I’m not saying racism is a good thing.) In the US you are allowed to say what you like. Especially in your own home. They have Freedom of speech even if it is offensive.

      Other laws you may not have heard about? Well what about having to get permission to take photographs in populated places? In other countries such as my native Ireland you are allowed to take pictures or say what you like on public land (Roads, cities etc) providing you don’t impede others rights.

      The UK isn’t what you think a democracy is. You do not have absolute freedom of speech. Now I dont want you to think Im an armchair conspiracy theories. I’m just quite shocked that a life changing bill such as this hasn’t gone through years of public debate. And in my opinion this particular bill atleast is somewhat fascist…

  2. Wednesday says:

    *ah, there’s a “compose letter” bit. Might give it a touch up.

  3. z3r0 says:

    Is that a picture of Peter Mandelson?

  4. Langman says:

    It’s a bit embarrassing that Rossignol went down the whole sarcasm route here – it’s pretty obvious what some of the people here are trying to say. The whole ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us!’ attitude here is pretty simple-minded from a lot of people.

  5. gentimouton says:

    This kind of law happened in France as well last year … I think a part of it passed (like you can be warned by your ISP at least twice before they shut your connection down)

    • tapanister says:

      It was completelly shut down by the Constituional court, actually. Nothing passed.

    • Wulf says:

      And France will get to laugh at us if we’re foolish enough to let this pass, and they will laugh, loudly and with gay abandon.

      One of these years I’m just going to say sod it and just move to Sweden.

    • Wulf says:

      Or was it Norway? I forget, I’d do the research when the time comes.

      Either way, the UK is looking more and more like a place where I don’t want to stay.

  6. geldonyetich says:

    I’ve never particularly sided with popular sentiment over ethical sentiment, and so I’m not really in a hurry to oppose anything that’s an effort to halt the complete and utter wanton appropriation of copyrighted content on the Internet.

    People want to get free stuff, people are addicted to getting free stuff, people can imagine a world where they can’t download their favorite anime or games-they-might-buy-except-that-damn-DRM-or-maybe-it’s-just-not-worth-the-money. Statistics have indicated 9 out of 10 of you see nothing wrong with piracy.

    However, though you can’t readily perceive it, you’re absolutely killing the artists. The PC gaming world has been shoved heavily in the direction of the easy cash grabs, and it’s largely because these are the only kinds of business that can survive anymore.

    Does this bill overreact? Probably. Honestly, I think I’d take an overreaction to the alternative right now.

    • Simes says:

      Sure. It’s not like overreacty rushed legislation has caused us any problems up to now.

      In all seriousness, forget what the bill is about. Are you in favour of legislation being rushed through parliament without being debated, or not? It’s not just about internets or piracy here, there’s a fundamental issue with how our democracy is (or is not) working.

    • geldonyetich says:

      The others are cynics about the possibility that the action could be successful. It seems to me that this kind of statement brings with it the responsibility to justify the cynicism and to begin the development of alternative tactics for action. Unless you do these things, what is the point of posting?

      Personally, I’m from the U.S., and while it might seem overly precocious for a fellow from the colonies to butt his nose into your government’s endeavors, I do want to offer one insight from a country that has been doing democracy a little longer:

      A country which never accomplishes anything because the opposition need only filibuster until the endeavor seems fruitless is far worse off than a country that attempts improvement without having explored each and every possibility first.

      We have poor public health care, our schools are a travesty, and half the country is being manipulated by organized crime. We allowed it to happen in the name of democracy.

    • Lambchops says:

      The current Government does have a bad habit of rushing legislation when put under pressure (after the expenses scandal new legislation passed through the houses with a mere few days worth of debate, resulting in legislation that some believe to be poorly thought out).

      There are some occasions when rushed legislation is of real benifit (something clearly a step forward with cross party support – such as when the Northern Ireland power sharing agreement was put into place – spring to mind) .

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      “insight from a country that has been doing democracy a little longer”

      Wait, what? You do know our democratic parliament executed a king not long after your country was found right?

    • Katsumoto says:

      “I do want to offer one insight from a country that has been doing democracy a little longer:”

      Huh? ;)

    • sonofsanta says:

      @geldonyetich:

      I do want to offer one insight from a country that has been doing democracy a little longer

      You sure on that? ;P

      Saying that, if this goes through, our democracy will have stopped and you only have to wait to make that claim.

      (Down with Mandy! Never elected, always sacked, always resurrected. Boo!)

    • geldonyetich says:

      “insight from a country that has been doing democracy a little longer”

      Wait, what? You do know our democratic parliament executed a king not long after your country was found right?

      And this defeats the sentence how?

      Another tip: nit-picking one sentence out of a paragraph because you think you’ve found something to argue with does not produce a fruitful result. That’s not a United States citizen tip, that’s a fellow-who-has-hung-out-on-Internet-forums-for-too-long tip.

    • Nick says:

      I thought for it to be a democracy everyones vote had to be worth the same?

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Mate, I’m not saying your argument isn’t valid. Just that on one very major point you’re wrong. As three people have highlighted. Our country has the oldest continuous democracy in the world. A two hundred year old country cannot claim that.

    • geldonyetich says:

      I thought for it to be a democracy everyones vote had to be worth the same?

      It’s good in theory. In practice, this just means if you’re rich you can afford more of them.

      The truth behind the subtleties of what I did there will probably be lost to most, and this too is an important lesson in democracy.

    • Katsumoto says:

      More insightful way of defeating that -particular- sentence would have been mentioning, e.g. the Glorious Revolution of 1688, or the Bill of Rights of 1689 etc.

      Totally nothing to do with the main thrust of what you were saying, of course! :D! Heh.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Mate, I’m not saying your argument isn’t valid. Just that on one very major point you’re wrong. As three people have highlighted. Our country has the oldest continuous democracy in the world. A two hundred year old country cannot claim that.

      Very well. Change my earlier sentence from “insight from a country that has been doing democracy a little longer” to “insight from a country that only been a democracy” or some such. Honestly, I don’t put a great deal of importance in my credentials, but that shores it up just as well.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      “I thought for it to be a democracy everyones vote had to be worth the same?”

      not at all. we didn’t allow women to vote until early last century but you’d be a mad man to say that wasn’t democracy. simply because the democracy in england was a boys club for most of its life doesn’t stop it being a democracy.

    • Wulf says:

      It’s as simple as this: The bill is unethical in and of itself because the people who are being trusted with the bill aren’t competent enough or knowledgeable enough about technology to uphold it without false positives.

      False positives which could potentially ruin lives and lose people jobs.

      This is why the law shouldn’t work like that, the idea is that a person is innocent until proved guilty, there must be no end of evidence which isn’t circumstantial in order to convict. The problem with this bill, and what makes it unethical, is that all suspected people are believed to be guilty off the bat, and all false positives will be punished. There’s likely going to be very little avenue of appeal, either.

      So it’s really not a good idea to cite ethics in the support of this, morality maybe, but not ethics.

    • Stromko says:

      The bill is wrong because it is tantamount to cultural suicide.

      It will come to pass, however, until such time as people are willing to die to protect their rights.

      If there isn’t a riot to protect the freedom of information, to prevent people being blacklisted from society just because information wants to be free, then this thing is going to pass.

    • GT3000 says:

      Good job guys on strawmanning the argument. Regardless of America’s tenure as a democracy, it’s still insight from a different prespective and blasting it because of it’s experience however irrelevant is missing the point. Just thought I’d give ya another way to look at it.

      @Wulf

      The recording labels, artists, designers, producers, movie-makers, game designers and etc. are constituents too. Is this measure ill-conceived? Maybe but it’s a reaction to HUGE pressure by these companies. Their interests are not important but they can press MUCH harder on the government than you.

    • Lemon scented apocalypse says:

      This argument veered dangerously close to the partiotic auto-fallatiotc vitriol so common on huge swathes off the internet. Not impressed RPSers.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      That’s not a strawman. Its pointing out a funny thing that someone has said. If someone in the pub were to tell me that America was older than England I’d make fun of that too. Have a look at everything else I’ve said in this thread, I’ve been the main person asking people to be civil. There’s no patriotism here, just humour. Laugh, live longer.

    • GT3000 says:

      @Bed

      I am man, or I try. I’m just trying to correct the slight derailing however humorous. Lol, I can now understand why people’s blood boils over these things.

  7. TheBlackBandit says:

    Signed and sent. Pleased to be part of the cause.

  8. M.P. says:

    I have always argued that the U.K. is becoming a bit of a police state, but on this particular matter I have to commend you Brits for resisting far more vehemently than other countries (eg. France) did. This is something which neither the public nor the ISPs want, nobody, in fact, but the music and movie industries, and the fact that governments are enacting it against public will represents the bankruptsy of Western democracy.

    • Stromko says:

      I’m now of the opinion that freedom of expression and total protection of intellectual property cannot coexist. Nations must choose one or the other, sooner or later that is what it will come down to.

    • drewski says:

      Why does it have to be black and white? You can have both to varying degrees, it’s just a matter of getting the balance right.

  9. TheApologist says:

    Done and sent.

    To the dissenters, two kinds of argument seem to be developing.
    Type one seems to defend the bill on the grounds that its punishment for what it deems unacceptable behaviour ‘could be worse’ and come with warning. However, this accepts the premise that it is a policy makers’ right to discipline us in ways that are of no conceivable benefit to ordinary citizens – and observation is disciplinary. A cultural acceptance of this kind of pointless observation and authority seems deeply dangerous.

    The others are cynics about the possibility that the action could be successful. It seems to me that this kind of statement brings with it the responsibility to justify the cynicism and to begin the development of alternative tactics for action. Unless you do these things, what is the point of posting?

  10. tapanister says:

    UK, the land of 1984. You already have all the cameras, this really isn’t strange. I’m gonna have to guess it’s going to pass and people won’t even realize what just happened. Hell, you let them put facial recognition cameras all over your streets and didn’t even blink.

    Best of luck sorting shit like this out without a constitution.

  11. JimmySpades says:

    I registered and everything just to say that I’ve sent mine off.

    Also: hello you fine, handsome people.

  12. Army of None says:

    Damn, I wish I could help as an American. Best of luck across the pond, I’ll continue to do my best over here.

  13. autogunner says:

    good lord this post has brought out the a level politics posers… I have sent mine off lets hope democracy works once in a while.

  14. Bhazor says:

    Mort says

    “Nonetheless, much as I dont fire letters to my MP on request, I’ll at least go get some actual facts and make my own decision.”

    Your response is to say he opposes democracy. Am I alone in thinking that’s not exactly fair on your part?

    Yes I’d like to see this discussed in the Houses but really you’re muddying the waters relying on third hand accounts that are now outdated due to the various amendments that have been made to it each time it’s been discussed by the committees. The Houses may be the ones you see on TV but its the committees which house the people who know what they’re talking about. Ever listened to Today in Parliment,? 90% of the time in the Houses is just back biting, one upmanship and character assassination. Three aspects which are not entirely beneficial to discussion.

    • TheApologist says:

      @Bhazor – I haven’t seen anything from you justifying why greater observation and controls on ordinary people’s use of the internet is helpful or beneficial to them? Why do think greater observation is not in itself a justification of protest?

    • TheApologist says:

      And by “them” I mean ordinary folk using the internet.

    • passingtramp says:

      I can’t speak for Bhazor, but in my opinion: Greater controls benefit society overall, as we all like to consume well made digital products. Enforced intellectual property rights are necessary to ensure that artists receive rewards for creating these products, and are thus incentivised to continue producing them.

    • TheApologist says:

      The reference to artists is interesting. I am not sure a decent sized developer counts as an artist. But maybe an indie studio does. That being said, I am not sure they operate in quite the same rational, income maximising way that is suggested.

      Anyway, the main point I would make is that your comment seems to run counter to several observable trends:
      - the recent rise of small indie studios has happened without these controls. They don’t seem to need them though it is possible they might benefit from them
      - larger studios in the industry seem to be experiencing growth until a severe recession hit a couple of years ago
      - crucially, even if the existence of some large studios were in some way facing increased threat within the status quo (which seems to be the extent of the “threat” here), what would be the loss to me and you?

      A few less 3rd person character action games, or average fps’ a year doesn’t seem to hurt anyone. Whereas greater observation and regulation of your private actions in online spaces does seem like a real problem.

    • passingtramp says:

      Artists don’t have to income-maximising for my point to be valid – they just need to want some income. I have no particular love for the games/film/music companies themselves – I’m quite open to the idea that a lot of the middlemen could be removed. But the artists at the bottom still need funding.

      Re the growth of games companies – perhaps because the gaming market is expanding?

      Re the growth of indies – that is indeed the power of the internet. But just because the internet enables a lot of good, doesn’t mean it can’t enable some bad. And just as if in real life you visit a warehouse where criminal activity is known to occur, if you visit a website where criminal activity is known to occur (e.g. the pirate bay) it’s not unreasonable that the authorities look into whether you’ve been conducting criminal activity.

      P.S. Your idea that big games companies aren’t artists: no-one would suggest that they are. But a lot of the people employed by those companies are.

  15. Hyoscine says:

    Fired off the template along with a lengthy post script. Mine’s gone to Simon Burns, which is awesome. .

  16. pedant says:

    @Tull

    - FRA (and welshing on the deal to make it a closed shop). I believe that to be a rather large long term threat/risk. Not like we haven’t got form there.
    - Wholesale storage of all Swedish traffic habits.
    - The right for ABP to act as private investigators using IP data (outsourcing police work is not my thing).
    - The fact that informal filtering of sites already takes place and is not subject to legal review or challenge (and as you may know the list has been shown to be inaccurate).
    - And on a slightly related note, the decision that the swedish databank for DNA (one of the largest in it’s kind) is no longer unavailable to the police.

    So while the UK is very bad in many ways Sweden is quite awful in others. Race to the bottom it seems.

  17. Mister Adequate says:

    My local MP is Keith Vaz, so yeah, anyone in the know will be aware of how much impact my letter will have. :( I sent it nevertheless.

  18. Greg Wild says:

    I wrote my own:

    Dear Michael,

    I would like to voice my concern regarding the Digital Economy Bill currently in the process of being fast-tracked through parliament without coming under scrutiny, and would kindly request you represent the concern I and many others in our constituancy and throughout the UK feel towards this deeply worrying piece of legislation.

    Should this law be passed, I believe that Britain will continue down the path of totalitarianism that I see creeping into view. In practice, I deeply believe that the ability to spy on the British citizen’s use of internet, and shut down their provision only has comparison in post-Election Iran.

    This law is an effrontary to the tradition of British liberty. No matter how much the political class has misused its position over history – recent or otherwise, the people of Britain have continually forged a path towards individual liberty. To allow this bill to come to pass will reverse that process, while damaging the nation’s ability to access the full liberty enhancing benefits the internet offers.

    I genuinely believe it will hurt economic interests in the long run, too. Statistically, it is believed that the target of this legislation – the so called “pirates” generally spend more money on music, films and games than those who do not. Should these statistics prove correct – and indeed, they should be too scrutinised in parliament before any decision is made – such a piece of legislation could curtail economic freedom as well as personal and political.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and consider what I have to say.

    Best Regards,
    Greg Wild.

  19. HairCute says:

    Jesus Fuckin’ Christ. Good Luck, fellows. I am completely surprised by how many people in this thread are just willing to roll over and die.

    • pedant says:

      @hair cute

      Some of us have fought and been roundly defeated in these matters. I don’t blame anyone who is pessimistic about things whilst being thankful for those who try to fight a good fight.

      Me, I’m trying to learn about proxies, tor and cracking wireless networks. Treat me like a criminal and I will fight back, didn’t have to be that way though.

    • Wulf says:

      @Hair Cute

      It’s British idiocy, the world knows us for it, and our Gov’t knows us for it too. It’s mostly the fault of the English as far as I can tell, but it’s an infection that’s spreading out over all of Britain, the notion that no matter what happens the Queen’s nation will not be shook. Stiff upper lip and all that! Just brush it under the rug because everything will be all right tomorrow! I don’t have to act, because my super-nation will automagically fix itself without any effort from me!

      Twits.

      I’ll be doing all I can to fight this nonsense, but Mandy really is a headcase, and the problem is that people don’t realise just how much of a headcase he is. He should be in an asylum, hammering on the walls of a padded room, not in bloody Gov’t! How can people be so in the dark? It’s baffling.

  20. HighMemetic80sHero says:

    I am really worried about this issue since i’m living with 4 other students and the internet is under my name, if they do anything i would take the shit for it because it’s under my name.

    Used that guide and re-wrote it a bit and sent it to Chris Grayling MP of the Conservatives for my area.

  21. PetitPrince says:

    I thought only the french were dumb enough to promote those kind of bills (I was refering LOPPSI and french officials, ’tis not a general insult).

  22. Frenz0rz says:

    Done and sent. Hopefully Simon Burns, Conservative MP for West Chelmsford for the last 23 years, will take note of my polite yet strongly worded email. Who knows, maybe he’s an RPS reader.

    Or maybe not.

  23. Aninhumer says:

    As pointed out above, ISPs will gather addresses by connecting to public trackers (or equivalents) and examining the IP lists that appear, as any member of the public can. Monitoring an individual’s use of the net is illegal AFAIK, and this bill doesn’t change that.

    The job of gathering evidence is that of the Copyright Holder as far as I understood from the Bill. The ISP only has to keep records of people who were complained about, and send them letters.

  24. Devan says:

    Hmm, since in Canada the Queen is “technically” our head of state, and we “technically” require the support of her Governor General for our laws, does that mean we “technically” have some influence on these decisions too? Can I write your MP?

  25. Ol' Sam says:

    Bhazor,

    Democracy isn’t “utterly paralyzed by pressure groups”. That’s just as alarmist as those arguing that this Bill is part of some sort of sinister plot.

    The fact that people are willing sit in judgement over something without thoroughly researching the issue is a fact of modern politics (perhaps life?), and one shared by some MPs as well as voters. I would venture that few voters pore over the full text of a bill without forming an opinion, I doubt the general public ever has done.

    I think it’s admirable that you care about it so much though, few do. Expletives do nothing for your argument however. While I agree that the sight of so many people jumping on a bandwagon is riling, I think it’s a wagon that is heading in the right direction.

    You briefly mentioned lobbyists. As I’m sure you are aware there are lobby groups representing just about every interest. In fact the section of the bill behind this furore was originally proposed in response to one such group.

    What is of concern to me are any constraints placed on information that can be enshrined in, and enforced by law. I would rather the subject be debated more publicly and more thoroughly than it has been, since ultimately the passing of the bill would result in some form of legislative control over internet use. There can be no grey areas here, regardless of your opinion on intellectual property (or for that matter, the other “good” proposals). Amendments to the bill have been made just as hurriedly as the bill was proposed, the aim being to push it through before the general election.

    • Wulf says:

      I argue that the bill is a slightly sinister plot, but not because of the Gov’t so much but rather the man responsible: Mandy. Anyone who’s been following his exploits is well aware that he isn’t really all there, he’s quite, quite nutty.

  26. Monkeybreadman says:

    Done. I am very dissappointed this isnt getting the mainstream media coverage it deserves. I bet my grandmother if the Sun were running this story it would be dropped tommorrow

    • Wulf says:

      Because it’s a breach of base freedoms, privacy, and the Gov’t getting a false positive on you as a pirate could cause you all sorts of heartache.

      The human capacity to brush even massive problems under the rug never ceases to amaze me, and the British are especially better at this than any other peoples. “Oh, that doesn’t matter. Stiff upper lip!”

    • Wizlah says:

      article in t’Guardian. And in print, too (filed last night online, in today’s print edition).

  27. TheSombreroKid says:

    what’s so important about this particular futile attempt to infringe our civil liberties? like as opposed to the stop and search laws the 28/48 day limit, id cards, the dna database, or any other number of heinous acts this labour government has commited in the name of democracy? of al those things this will affect people the least.

    • TheSombreroKid says:

      i should stress the reason it will have little to no impact is because it is already out of date with how the internet is used on a daily basis and will become increasingly so before the law can be put to use. a quick example how many people today rely on soley on thier landline for using the internet?

    • TeeJay says:

      “what’s so important about this particular futile attempt to infringe our civil liberties?”

      They are trying to push it through in the next six weeks.

  28. Wulf says:

    I actually wrote a personal letter to my local MP a bit ago, he seemed very concerned too, but unfortunately they sent him a letter filled with lies back. I’ve been thinking of publishing those mails online for all to see, just to show how clearly parts of the UK Government are misleading other parts. Should I?

    The thing is though, no one should be surprised by this because the person responsible is old, mad, mad Mandy, one of the Trio of Total Twats responsible for turning Labour into New Labour. Bastards. I don’t exactly want the tories in power, but I don’t want this gimp in power, either. Sigh, if only I could somehow convince every British voter to vote for a party that isn’t the all new bastardly labour or the bloody tories, but I digress. Of course, that people are so uneducated that they keep gravitating between two parties whilst ignoring all the others is as much of a problem as the parties themselves. Hooray for the UK, uneducated idiot capitol of the world! Possibly more so than anywhere else, now! Okay, I admit, there are a few other countries that are particularly stupid about politics, but most countries would laugh at us for dealing with it so frivolously. :|

  29. passingtramp says:

    ” Whereas greater observation and regulation of your private actions in online spaces does seem like a real problem.”

    I think the popular acceptance of this sentiment is interesting. When does an action on the internet become public?

  30. passingtramp says:

    Whoops, that was meant to be a reply to the Apologist.

  31. kieran martin says:

    I’m always amused by this response. Back at Bath I chaired the student Amnesty society, where we would get people wondering how our urgent action letters could possible have an effect. A third of all urgent actions Amnesty gets involved in lead to an improvement (often not a release, but an amnesty from the death penalty). Now as a statistican I can hum and haw about correlation and causation, but by bringing a light to these cases I do think we made a difference.

    In our own country, our own government… well writing to your mp won’t necessairly always work, but it does help them become aware that people CARE about this bill, and thats important. There are, of course, other ways to influence (actually lobbying your mp, if you have the time and inclination, is worthwhile) this system, but the supposed advantage of our rather rubbish electoral system is the constituency link would be madness, and exactly what the unproportionally powerful lobbying companies want…

    In short, no its not magic, but it can and does work. Its not much time out of your day, and if you care about an issue, why not do something that costs you nothing?

  32. TheApplogist says:

    The point I was trying to make is that the threat or problem that this is trying to deal with, and the one you cited in your comment, that is that there will be some kind of crisis in videogame production without this legislation is a fiction.

    I think that is something you agree with acknowledging that indie companies and large companies alike seem likely to carry on with no change.

    That being the case, what possible justification is there for this kind of incursion into our privacy by the state?

    • cliffski says:

      I’m not sure thats accurate,
      Almost everyone I know who makes a living from indie gaming is looking into online games and flash MMOs, because they are the only games that seem to reliably make money,
      The people I know making single player RPGs and other simialr titles consider the futrue incredibly bleak.
      People pirating games does not exclusively affect evil companies, it aeffects the whole industry, even if we react in different ways,

    • Wulf says:

      @cliffski

      “Almost everyone I know who makes a living from indie gaming is looking into online games and flash MMOs, because they are the only games that seem to reliably make money, [...]”

      Yet despite that independent development seems to be thriving, with as many interesting indie games on the horizon as triple-A titles. It’s true that some will look into MMOs but that’s only because by their very virtue MMOs rake in the most money, and some people will want to try and fight the MMO big boys in order to take a slice of that pie.

      But that’s more about simply going after the big money more than anything else, because nothing’s going to make as much money as something like Free Realms or World of Warcraft, so of course there are going to be people who’ll pursue that kind of money, even though that pursuit isn’t exactly wise.

      However, looking at the indie games on the horizon, I think the amount of indie developers seeking a slice of the MMO pies is less than the amount of indie developers who’re just looking to put out a decent single- or multi-player game to make a decent profit off of.

      You should see my Steam list, shortcuts and games bought on Steam alike, 80% of what I have and what’s installed is indie. If there was no money there then no one would be pursuing it, and there wouldn’t be a quarter of the incredible indie games on the horizon as there actually are.

      “The people I know making single player RPGs and other simialr titles consider the futrue incredibly bleak.”

      I haven’t seen this sentiment on any of the independent developer blogs I follow, and being a fan of the indie scene I follow quite a few. Rather than just having you speaking for the masses, I’d prefer to see a few of these people actually show up and state their case. But there’s nothing to say whether you’re telling the truth either way, or whether you’re using the fallacy of the anonymous many in order to support your own faltering position.

      “People pirating games does not exclusively affect evil companies, it aeffects the whole industry, even if we react in different ways, [...]”

      And there’s little evidence that piracy is having the effect that people say it is, because when piracy is mentioned sales figures are rarely shown, it’s probably more that the demographics are all screwed up. For example, STALKER will sell better on the PC than the cell-shaded Prince of Persia, because PC gamers use a PC for PC games. For every story of ONOZPIRACY, I’ve seen a story of success. For every 2DBoy, there’s a Wolfire, and for every Ubisoft, there’s a Valve.

      The only problem with sales is that people are trying to sell games to demographics which aren’t all that interested in those games, they’re not making the kinds of incredible sales they expect and see from consoles, they’re just making ‘satisfactory’ sales, and those aren’t good enough. Moreover, there are many publishers which are alienating the PC audience with DRM and DLC, which is convincing people not to buy games.

      Here’s a bit of wisdom: Not every lost sale is due to piracy. Most lost sales will be due to a lack of interest in either the game or the publisher, and if that’s the case then the publisher needs to look at what they’re selling and how they’re selling it. If anyone is struggling within any given industry, it’s a failure on their part to pitch their product properly, Wolfire and Valve stand as a testament to that. If someone wants their product to sell, they should target and market it to the correct demographic, and they should treat their customers with the respect and dignity a human being would expect.

      If you feel your sales are suffering, then maybe you’re not making the right kinds of games, or you’re not making games for the right reasons, maybe you’re marketing them incorrectly, and maybe (as you’re showing now) you’re viewing your customers with a neurotic, paranoid eye that’s putting them off buying your goods. I’ll feel less inclined to buy your games in the future because you have this attitude, and I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

    • TheApplogist says:

      @cliffski

      I respect your sense of the indie scene, and the challenges facing developers of course. And we have exchanged before on piracy – I think it is wrong and don’t do it, and now it’s even more wrong that it is providing the state with reasons to lock down Internet use.

      Still, I think this law is wrong. Partly I think that games production will find other forms as you suggest if it needs to and partly I just wouldn’t swop entertainment, even that I love, for
      this.

    • cliffski says:

      “Here’s a bit of wisdom: Not every lost sale is due to piracy”

      wow you are the first person to ever type these words. what insight!
      nice straw man,given nobody here ever claimed it was.
      As for sales fuigures, whenever they get quoted by, you know, people who actually sell games, they get a bucketful of abuse and hatred heaped on them from angry internet men.
      Which is why developers and publishers have given up trying to debate the issue and just make MMO’s instead. I don’t blame them.

      And I love how every time I ever mention that piracy affects the industry people start trying to suggest reasons why my games do not sell. Again, I never claimed my games do not sell, they do.
      But if I was a rational investor I’d invest my money in a different industry. Or at least a different platform.

    • cliffski says:

      “maybe you’re marketing them incorrectly, and maybe (as you’re showing now) you’re viewing your customers with a neurotic, paranoid eye that’s putting them off buying your goods. I’ll feel less inclined to buy your games in the future because you have this attitude, and I can’t be the only one who feels this way.”

      Because I do not use any DRM and openly state so?
      http://www.positech.co.uk/talkingtopirates.html
      Or because I provide free demos?

      I’m not sure you have really researched this as much as you claim. Any developer who ever opens his mouth in the prescence of a loud angry rant about the evil MAFIAA etc always gets shouted at. Thats why 99.9% of developers just roll there eyes and don’t get involved.

  33. Wazzle says:

    Well, I’m sorry to say that I live in the USA, so I clicked on the article in hopes of helping out but realized I could not. However, know that I am vehement in my opposition of this disgusting real-world realization of 1984/Brave New World/etc.

  34. Recomposer says:

    I’d like to do this, but given that my MP has just died its not going to help.

  35. TheApplogist says:

    And that was in reply to passingtramp!

    You have a point that public/private is not clearly resolved on the internet, but the greater danger seems to me the collapsing of the two whereby the state justifies almost boundless observation and regulation.

  36. Tim Ward says:

    Alec. Be honest. Did you actually look at the relevant text of the bill yourself, or did you just rely on some hysterical “summary” of it’s contents posted on another site?

    I looked at the bill and decided not to send any letter, because there’s really nothing especially objectionable or draconian in it. The only difference now is that they have to keep a record of who gets sent those letters and an escalating program of sanctions for people who ignore them.

    To anyone thinking of sending a letter: read the relevant sections yourself, then decide. If you still have objections, then more power to you. Your letter to your MP will be both informed and able to refer to specific sections you have problems with, rather than vague and sensationalist.

    • Wulf says:

      I’ve nosed at the Bill. The problem: This Bill might be sound but the technology isn’t, data-gathering technology in regards to the Internet can never be sound. This Bill will have false positives accused to be real pirates, it will have many false positives. This Bill cannot work because the technology it props itself up on is completely fallible. That’s the problem, it’s not the Bill but how they plan on tracking potential pirates.

    • Tim Ward says:

      Uh, it’s not going to be some kind of giant master computer searching the Internet for people on torrents, copyright holders have to supply a certain standard of evidence to the ISP for the ISP is compelled to act.

      There is an appeals process.

    • Collic says:

      The law is iterative, and if something is on the table that opens up those potential legal consequences it needs some real scrutiny. This is really scary stuff. The decision on whether or not you get cut off (or one of the other ‘measures’ levied against you, rests with the secretary of state. NOT the courts. You might have a civil case against you that you can fight as is your legal right, but when it comes to cutting you off, the final decision is his.

      If he decides you’ve been a bad boy, ISPs are are under a ‘technical obligation’ to prevent users from doing so:

      (2)
      A “technical obligation”, in relation to an internet service provider, is an
      10
      obligation for the provider to take a technical measure against some or
      all relevant subscribers to its service for the purpose of preventing or
      reducing infringement of copyright by means of the internet.
      (3)
      A “technical measure” is a measure that—
      (a)limits the speed or other capacity of the service provided to a
      15
      subscriber;
      (b) prevents a subscriber from using the service to gain access to
      particular material, or limits such use;
      (c) suspends the service provided to a subscriber; or
      (d) limits the service provided to a subscriber in another way.

      I don’t know how anyone couldn’t be frightened by that. Not only could you be up in court, but you could get cut off as well, with no legal recourse that I can see to defend yourself against that. It doesn’t matter how many ‘strikes’ there are, putting that decision in the hands of a minister, not the courts is unacceptable.

    • Collic says:

      I take that back, there is an appeals process. But the onus is on you to disprove that decision, and it’s a bloody tribunal, not the civil courts system. That’s very important.

    • drewski says:

      Tim – you seem to have completely misunderstood Alec’s point. The point is that the Bill should be debated and, where necessary, amended, not that it’s the coming of the Anti-Christ.

      Yes, that was hyperbole, I’m not suggesting you’re suggesting Alec thinks the bill is the coming of the Anti-Christ.

      Alec’s objecting to the rushing of the Parliamentary process – whilst I have no doubt he also disagrees with the Bill itself, that’s not what he’s asking people to write in about.

    • Theory says:

      The decision on whether or not you get cut off rests with the secretary of state.

      Ken Clarke (Tory shadow secretary for business) is going to decide every time? Just think about that idea for a second.

      OfCom will recommend what evidence and process is required in their code, then Secretary of State will make his order and set up whatever the infrastructure will be. It is theoretically possible for him to ignore the evidence, and if he’s crazy try to decide every case himself, but before the order it becomes law both the House of Lords and the House of Commons must approve it.

    • Collic says:

      That may be true, of course I don’t ever expect the secretary of state to make decisions on these cases personally, but the decision WILL be taken by an unelected body, not the courts system. A tribunal isn’t nearly the same thing.

      If your talking about something that imposes a punitive measure against an individual, it should be handled by the courts. Not a quango, a committee, or anything else set up to adjudicate these things. Nothing you’ve wrote changes what I’m disagreeing with about the Bill.

    • Theory says:

      Neither courts nor tribunals (which are exactly the same, actually) consist of elected members. They are both run by appointed people who applying the law as laid down by Parliament – exactly as happens under the bill.

      For the record, an inquest can lead to murder charges and a planning appeal can order you to tear down anything you’ve built without permission. Both of those have more gravitas than having your net connection cut in my mind. If, as I keep pointing out, that ever even becomes a possibility.

    • Collic says:

      You can argue with me all you want, but you’re just arguing semantics. The semantics are irrelevant when legal precedent is going to determine what counts as guilt. If you feel fine with opening up the law in this area like that, fine. I, and alot of other people think it’s a very bad idea.

  37. shalrath says:

    Out of curiosity, who’s going to pay to have people check for these things? The cable companies? Fuck that, how on earth would they get the manpower.

    I’m not taking anyway away from this, and I love that people are being involved, but realise that all is not lost. Even if they pass the bill, it would be virtually impossible to enforce.

    • Wulf says:

      Indeed. The problem with this Bill is the nature of technology, and this is why only people who aren’t tech-stupid should be allowed to judge the ethics of it and whether it’s actually a good thing or not, because otherwise we have people talking out of their bleeding arse, and we’ve seen some of that in this comments thread.

      The problem is is that it’ll most likely work on word of mouth and culminated data based on IP, and do I really have to say what’s wrong with both of those? If my IP is linked to a site which sometimes carries wares, then I’m a false positive. If someone has a grudge against me and accuses me of piracy, then I’m a false positive.

      Fuck that.

      It’ll be a case of 1 real pirate arrested for every 1,000 false positives. This is so bloody asinine, so incredibly blisteringly stupid that I can barely bring my mind to accept that it’s real. They’re going to have methods in play which are absolutely prone to failure, and will have a higher failure rate than success, and the people responsible for the Bill think that technology is a magical thing that always works, the people supporting the Bill think that the Government will be able to use this infallibly despite how fallible it is.

      It’s days like this when I just want to maul people.

    • Theory says:

      The rightsholders pay the ISPs for their effort. 6(4).

    • Gorgeras says:

      This is 6(4) in full:

      “The provision mentioned in subsection (3)(a) may, in particular, specify that a right or obligation does not apply in relation to a copyright owner unless the owner has made arrangements with an internet service provider regarding—

      (a) the number of copyright infringement reports that the owner may make to the provider within a particular period; and

      (b) payment in advance of a contribution towards meeting costs incurred by the provider.”

      Which is better understood if you read 6(3) first:

      “The provision that may be contained in a code and approved under this section includes provision that—

      (a) specifies conditions that must be met for rights and obligations under the copyright infringement provisions or the code to apply in a particular case;

      (b) requires copyright owners or internet service providers to provide any information or assistance that is reasonably required to determine whether a condition under paragraph (a) is met.”

      Section 6 concerns “Approval of code about the initial obligations” basically instructing Ofcom about the requirements of whatever code and guidelines they come up with for how all this filthy business goes down. It does this the same way all bad legislation does this: by making squillions of small changes to obscure parts of other bills, in this case section 124 of the Communications Act 2003 which itself ascribes how Ofcom will give directions for “Suspending service provision for contraventions of” conventions laid out in section 120, describing “Conditions regulating premium rate services”. Section 124 is replaced with sections 124A all the way through to M.

      It’s all very well criticising people for relying on summaries instead of reading the bill, but not everyone is a lawyer or a hyperlexic autistic.(ohai)). Most people have to inform themselves with other peoples summaries and give us your honest opinion- who has the most dumbed-down and uninformative summaries of anything in the DIgital Economy Bill: the BPI + friends or ORG + friends?

      It’s not enough to just read the bits you quote to ‘show’ people are wrong: they must read and trace the taxonomy of the specific section in full; see what it affects and what affects it. Theory, have you done this and if so, why? Were you just casually interested in the law and after a sober and thorough reading you came to the conclusion that it’s not so bad? Chief Wyrmskin cries bullshit. The bill is impenetrable without a determined effort.

      6(4) in the bill does not say that copyright owners will pay ISPs. It says that the copyright owners should be responsible for their arrangements with ISPs and the arrangement must include costs.

  38. Morangie says:

    @Alec Meer

    “Seconded. Do you understand what democracy means?”

    Do you understand how democracy works? Labour proposed the bill, the Tories support it and it was Lib Dem peers who put in the amendment taken word for word from the BPI. I’ve happily sent the form email to my MP but living in a rock solid Labour seat, it was meaningless. Those of you in marginals may have better luck but I don’t see many MPs ignoring the whip for something The Sun and The Daily Mail aren’t behind.

  39. Wulf says:

    So I’m using this site to write to my MP again, here’s what I have:

    “Dear Mr. Davies,

    I know I’ve written to you before, and that Gordon Brown sent you a letter back playing down (and in some cases outright lying about) the Digital Economy Bill, but the situation has gotten worse, I need to write to you again. See, the bill is being just pushed through at the moment, it’s not even getting the chance to undergo a proper parliamentary debate. I expect you still have concerns, as I do, and this is why they’re doing this, so that you and many other MPs won’t have a chance to say anything about this. That’s duplicitous, and it should tell you that something questionable is going on, here.

    I think there are many points still left to be raised, questioned, and debated in order to bring all aspects of the Digital Economy Bill into the light. There are many scenarios in which this bill could cause problems for people, it could even rob them of their livelihood, it could result in lost jobs, it could ruin lives, and this could all happen through false positives, since one person does not equal one Internet connection, and often it’s hard to link the activities of one person to an Internet connection, because the Internet just doesn’t work that way.

    For example, say an Internet connection is in place for a flat, where a person has four flatmates, if two of those four flatmates are downloading then all four get punished for that, but it gets worse. Say one of those people has an IT job and needs to work from home? They couldn’t, because they’d be banned from the Internet under the three strikes system, despite not having done anything illegal. This is what I mean by false positives, and it’s an uncaring, undiscerning system, and one which could be devastating to the lives of people and the economy.

    Here’s another example: Let’s say that someone gets a false positive, and yet they buy all their content from legal, online content providers? You can look these up yourself, but there are services like iTunes, Steam, Good Old Games, and many others which provide goods with no physical aspect to them, there are also individual content providers online who sell their content. Telltale Games is one such instance of this, and all of these can be found on Google. Now if someone has a false positive hit them, they have no paper receipts or boxes to show for their legally purchased content, and despite having done nothing illegal they may end up having their Internet connection taken away. There’s so much room for error in this system that it’s truly not funny.

    I’m not voicing this concern alone either, because there has been a furore raised by Internet Service Providers and Content Providers alike. Companies like Talk-Talk, British Telecom, Google, and Apple have raised concerns about this, and they think that this is a very bad idea, they’ve many of the same concerns as I do. This system is a blind system, one open to exploitation, and it’ll do nothing but wreak havoc upon Britain and leave us in a weakened state, with people and businesses alike having much less faith in the Government. Each and every false positive is going to be damning for the party in power.

    Yet these are concerns that the Government isn’t letting you or other MPs air, and I’m hoping that as my MP you’ll take a stand against this, because it’s clearly very questionable, and it needs to be questioned and debated, it has flaws and these need to be exposed, if that wasn’t true then why would they be so dubiously trying to rush this through without even allowing any kind of challenge? They’re just hoping it’ll slip by without anyone noticing. Please don’t let that happen. If you can, talk to other MPs about this too and let them know how you feel.

    I’m only writing because I’m concerned. The thing is, I use a lot of online Content Providers, like Steam, and iTunes, and I have a lot of content that I legally own that’s sitting around on my hard disk, a lot of legal content that has receipts in emails but not on paper, and if I get hit with a false positive, then all of my Steam content, all of the content I’ve bought online could look bad for me, because the people upholding these laws just won’t be educated enough as to how the Internet works in order to understand my legal purchases. And that’s the problem, the Bill itself shows a lack of understanding of the Internet. If I buy a game off Steam, I could be at risk. Even that fear could be damaging for the economy.

    I know I’m appealing to your emotions here, but I really don’t think this is right at all, and I implore you to do your own research, into the companies who’ve spoken out against this, into online Content Providers, and into the Bill itself, and I’m hoping your findings will leave you as worried about this as I am. All I ask, as a constituent, is that you follow this up. All I can do is bring your attention to this and hope that you’ll do the right thing. This bill needs to be questioned, please do all that you can to ensure that that’s allowed to happen.

    Thank you.

    Yours sincerely,
    [Name Omitted]”

    Yes, I did steal one of the examples here, thanks to whomever gave me that idea!

  40. lazy_n_crazy says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter, this law irritated me enough to bring me out of the woodwork. I have a deep distrust of our government when it comes to this kind of legislation, even if I agreed with it in principal, which I do not, I fear they are likely to enforce it in the most unfair, most arbitrary way possible, if its practically enforceable at all.

    Sent my email off. I do not think it will do any good, I think my MP has taken the labour party line on everything since she was elected. Is there going to be any kind of meatspace protest over this? That would probably me more effective than angry emails if people want to show they really care about this bill.

  41. ulix says:

    More often then not I am very happy to live in a country with a written constitution and a court with the power to defend it. Thanks to that this (probably, hopefully…) wouldn’t be possible in Germany (other thing would, I know…).

  42. JohnP says:

    Sent, although I have no faith in my MP – she’s a Labour lackey through and through and has sent embarrassingly party line towing stock replies to everything I’ve sent her in the past. Last time I looked she’d never voted against the government.

  43. Initialised says:

    I’m spreading this everywhere I can think of!

  44. Lambchops says:

    Yeah the flatshare argument is quite a powerful one.

    Over the last five years of staying in shared residences I’ve never been in a situation where at least one of my housemates is a heavy downloader of pirated material (particularly movies).

    Not having the internet would have had a horrible affect on my ability to work effectively and probably stressed me out somewhat. However I wouldn’t have been able to change my housemates’ minds on this. would they eventually stop pirating after several warning letters? Probably they would – but it’s not a given and it would have also put my own internet use under unfair scrutiny despite having not done anything wrong.

    • Lambchops says:

      “Is” in the second sentence should read “isn’t.” Edit doesn’t seem to be working for me!

    • Tim Ward says:

      “Clause 14 inserts new section 124K in the 2003 Act. Section 124K sets out how the mechanism for subscriber appeals will work. It requires that the initial obligations code and any technical obligations code provide a route for appeals and sets out grounds for appeal. It also requires that the codes must provide for an appeal to succeed unless the copyright owner or ISP shows, in relation to each relevant CIR, that there has been an infringement of copyright and that this has been correctly linked to the subscriber’s internet account. A subscriber appeal must also succeed where the subscriber shows that the infringement was not carried out by the subscriber and that the subscriber had taken reasonable steps to prevent an infringement.

    • Wulf says:

      Am I crazy or does that say…

      - In order to make a proper appeal, you must prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that you weren’t responsible for pirating, and prove the invalidity of the research that lead to you being accused.

      - You must prove that you will be able to ensure that this never happens again, even if it means utilising some kind of mind-control or behavioural conditioning to stop any and all current or future flatmates from committing such a breach.

      Guh.

    • Lambchops says:

      @ Tim
      Thing is in a flatshare situation I’ve never been “the subscriber.” I’ve always paid money to someone else who has organised the internet account. If the subscriber was the one doing the pirating then you’d still be shafted. If not then you’d have to go through the inconvenience of an appeal process – but as long as that option existed from the moment of the first warning then I guess it would be alright – apart form the whole being presumed guilty thing – which is clearly a load of bollocks. So quite a big apart there!
      I guess if I was in that hypothetical situation where I wasn’t the subscriber and they weren’t budging I’d just move out and find someone who cared more about being a friend than watching films for nothing
      It also would presumably be pretty easy to circumvent the rules (just ensure the subsriber is someone who doesn’t infringe copyright – you’d get bogged down in an appeal process but presumably you’d eventually win)..It would be a fundamentaly dishonest thing to do though.
      Neither scenario is particularly appealing.

    • Tim Ward says:

      - In order to make a proper appeal, you must prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that you weren’t responsible for pirating, and prove the invalidity of the research that lead to you being accused.

      “It also requires that the codes must provide for an appeal to succeed unless the copyright owner or ISP shows, in relation to each relevant CIR, that there has been an infringement of copyright and that this has been correctly linked to the subscriber’s internet account.”

      It says clear as day that it is up to the ISP to prove the there was infringement and that it was you, not vice versa.

      You must prove that you will be able to ensure that this never happens again, even if it means utilising some kind of mind-control or behavioural conditioning to stop any and all current or future flatmates from committing such a breach.

      “and that the subscriber had [note: past tense] taken reasonable steps to prevent an infringement.“

      So, yes, you are crazy. Or have woefully bad reading comprehension, or are just being willfully dishonest.

    • Tim Ward says:

      @Lambchop

      I’m not sure why people are having such difficulty with the idea that you are legally responsible for what your Internet connection is used for.

    • Lambchops says:

      @ Tim

      I’m also having trouble understanding why you are having so much difficulty with the idea that it’s impossilbe to control what somebody else is doing over a shared connection.

      I’m a pretty good judge of character so I know that if we got a cease and desist letter over copyright theft then my flatmate’s would stop.

      However there are people out there who wouldn’t. Who would assume that the worst isn’t going to happen to them and just not give a shit about the people they are staying with. You can’t always choose your flatmates and you certainly can’t control them.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “- You must prove that you will be able to ensure that this never happens again, even if it means utilising some kind of mind-control or behavioural conditioning to stop any and all current or future flatmates from committing such a breach.”

      No, it says the person appealing must be able to show that he had already taken these steps before the alleged offence. By that wording, it would appear to be the person’s responsibility if anyone on their internet connection does something untoward unless the person has already done everything conceivable to make sure it doesn’t happen.

      It’s practical, but it doesn’t seem fair.

    • Wulf says:

      @Lambchops

      That’s precisely what turned my stomach, I might not have the specifics down but I understood the gist of it, and it still expects people to be able to mind-read and control others, which is — as you say — absolutely impossible, under any circumstances. Thus resulting in (hooray!) false positives.

      Gods, if this gets through it’s going to be a disaster, hilarious for the rest of the world though.

      Hey, everywhere that’s not Britain? If this gets through, grab the popcorn, because you’re probably in for a whale of a time!

    • Tim Ward says:

      In what way does the words “everything conceivable” play a part in “reasonable steps”. Given the difficulties involved in blocking bittorrent traffic (it can use any port, so you really can’t do it without a home router- best you can do make life difficult ) with a home setup, even if you do have the technical knowhow. This likely involves telling them not to and cutting their Internet off if they refuse. If they continue to do so without you knowing, then you have still taken “reasonable steps”.

      @Lampchops, it’s not impossible to control. Things like firewalls were invented for a reason. In this specific case, however, it is actually very difficult to block torrent traffic, and impossible to distinguish between legal torrent traffic and illegal torrent traffic, so they idea that this law means that you must take all kinds of extraordinary measures to stop torrenting is fiction.

      If you’re not the subscriber, but are simply paying the subscriber to use a connection that’s in their name then… yes, you are rather at their mercy. There’s nothing to stop them putting on 30 torrents and eating up all the bandwidth, never mind the legal implications. That’s the risk you take when you enter into these agreements. I don’t think the risk of third parties getting screwed should stop the government enforcing the law, though. It’s like saying no one should have the power to impound cars because other users of the vehicle might be inconvenienced.

    • Wulf says:

      @Tim

      I’m sorry, but please clarify for me, did you just really say: I understand and accept that the method for finding convicts is completely fallible, but that shouldn’t stop the Gov’t from pursuing criminals under a bill that automatically presumes the guilt of the accused?

      The problem is that the technology is fallible, the scenarios weaken the already fallible technology, and nothing is going to stop a veritable tsunami of false positives, and each and every one of those false positives is going to be presumed guilty off the bat.

      If you don’t think that’s a problem, then I’m at a loss.

    • Theory says:

      Wulf, he said “you are jointly responsible for a shared internet connection”. Don’t try and twist it. “Presumed guilty” is also weasel wording: are you being “presumed guilty” when you are arrested for an offence? The appeal is the equivalent of the court case here, and it “must succeed unless the copyright owner or ISP shows that there has been an infringement of copyright”.

      Furthermore, no, the tech is not fallible. If an IP was downloading from a torrent, it was downloading from a torrent. It is quite literally a binary distinction.

    • Theory says:

      Perhaps I should explain further, since “the appeal is the equivalent of the court case” looks weird.

      - A judicial trial determines guilt; you are likely to be held in custody beforehand
      - A judicial appeal determines whether the trial was fair

      - A “technical measure appeal” determines guilt; you are likely to have technical measures in effect beforehand
      - Subsequent technical measure appeals determines whether the first appeal was fair

      You could argue that holding the infringer “in custody” before the “appeal” starts is unreasonable, but given the amount of warning that will be given and relatively minor loss incurred, it seems okay to me.

    • Tim Ward says:

      Wulf,

      I’m sorry, but please clarify for me, did you just really say: I understand and accept that the method for finding convicts is completely fallible, but that shouldn’t stop the Gov’t from pursuing criminals under a bill that automatically presumes the guilt of the accused?

      Would you like to name any part of the justice system which is infallible? If you cannot, do you think that means we should have no police and court system? If no, then what I said is in fact completely reasonable.

      Your idea that the bill automatically ‘presumes guilt of the accused’ is just flat out retarded: it quite simply doesn’t.

      You have repeatedly claim there will be a “veritable tsunami of false positives”, something for which I have seen no evidence at all. You talk about the massive flaws of the technology, do you even know what ‘the technology’ is? It’s logging onto a torrent with infringing material and looking at the IP address of people connected to it, then getting the ISPs to them a nasty letter and (this is the new part) keep a record of nasty letter recipients, and start throttling their connection if they keep it up. The only way to get a false positive out of that is if someone uses your connection without your knowledge, and the bill makes provisions for that.

  45. Gorgeras says:

    The main problem with people using summarised versions of the bill is not that they can be so easily accused of fear-mongering over it.

    It’s that some nobodies appear from nowhere and distract everyone from what is wrong with it. Currently, people accused of piracy by copyright holders are told to pay a settlement or be dragged to court.

    If the bill passes, it doesn’t matter that the accused is sent warnings or that they get a chance to appeal: their presumption of innocence at every stage along the way isn’t there. It’s questionable enough that there isn’t full-proof technology to make the suggested measures work; but for someone to prove they have not been distributing or obtaining copyrighted material is just plain impossible. Accusation alone will screw them; the rights holders have all the power and rights. It’s worse than libel law; at least with that the truth is an absolute defence.

    • Wulf says:

      That’s exactly my point, yep.

      Due to the fallible nature of the technology involved, if this piece of distilled idiocy passes then we’re going to have a lot of fun with false positives, people who’re accused and get screwed over, despite being totally innocent of what they’re being accused of.

    • Theory says:

      You misunderstand the justice system. You are presumed innocent in court, but certainly not before then. If a person is accused of a crime and there are reasonable grounds for suspicion (being spotted and reported downloading a torrent fits that bill, I’m sure you’ll agree), then you are investigated on the assumption of guilt that needs to be proved. If detectives assumed innocence when investigating criminals, their job would be an utter farce.

      When enough evidence is gathered (reports received and confirmed, warnings sent) You will be arrested (technical measures imposed) in preparation a court case (appeal against TM) and it is there that you are presumed innocent. In both cases – 14(5).

    • Gorgeras says:

      Sorry but no.

      Being accused, arrested or charged with an offence at no point prejudices a person before the law: there is no requirement for a person to appeal against any of them. Your twisting of this reminds me of the very first Next Generation episode where Q explains why the crew have no presumption of innocence: “To put the innocent on trial would be inhumane!”

      Not guilty is as good as ‘not proven’ in Britain. The outrageous usurpation of the Digital Economy Bill is that it doesn’t even have to find someone guilty; copyright owners don’t have to prove, they just have to accuse. Technical measures are not an arrest(you can prove wrongful arrest for a start, independent of being found guilty or not guilty) and the appeal is not a trial: *it’s an appeal*, an appeal against mere accusation and shoddy evidence.

    • Theory says:

      I don’t understand your first paragraph. You seem to be agreeing with me? Being accused of or suspended for an infringement at no point prejudices a person before the appeal either. (I think you misunderstand the purpose of Q, incidentally: his purpose in the series, aside from being irritatingly petulant, is to reveal such paradoxes.)

      Your second para assumes that there is no need for evidence. This is untrue – 4(3). The precise level of evidence required is to be set by OfCom’s code, but for the first year it must at least match that required by the courts today. It makes no sense to claim that it will regress to mere accusation afterwards.

      It’s not like whether or not an IP connected to a tracker is an ambiguous question.

      I posted just above this comment thread about the trial-like nature of the “appeal”, at which the rightsholder or ISP must to prove guilt. I think the only reason it’s being called an appeal at all may be because it’s optional: for the bill to call it a trial (or inquest or whatever), it would have to be compulsory.

  46. A Harper says:

    Just a quick note as a gamer who completely agrees with this protest and works in parliament getting this sort of mail –
    do NOT copy and paste that letter. Write your own, with your own thoughts and opinions. Bulk will not persuade an MP. I get hundreds of identical letters everyday about every nutty issue from every interest group. It does not persuade.
    What does is a thoughtful and individual letter that your representative (if their team is any good, and most are) will get to read themselves.
    It’s easy to click yes on a forum, it’s easy to copy and paste words. It’s harder to write out why you believe in something yourself and your MP will pay much more attention when you bother to do so.
    Someone above said will an MP care more about 1000 identical letters or 100 individual. They seemed to think it was a no brainer that it was the former. Absolutely not. 100 individuals taking the time to make their views known will win over the thousands of identikit protests on every issue that every MP always gets.

  47. DJ Phantoon says:

    England is a bizarre place.

    Still, you have much better roads then we in the states do.

    • Wulf says:

      Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to only England but all of Britain.

      We do have better roads though, at least currently, but goodness knows where we’ll be in a decade from now.

    • Lambchops says:

      Could have fooled me about the roads!

      At least if the likes of the A82 and A9 in Scotland are any evidence (of course it’s all dependant on the local councils and it seems that both Argyll and the Highlands are somewhat bad at mainitaing or improving roads).

    • Nick says:

      All of the UK shirly?

    • Lambchops says:

      Ah, the poor Northern Irish. So often missed out!

    • Wulf says:

      @Lambchops

      Blaenau Gwent county council are actually pretty good about the upkeep of roads, it’s sometimes disturbing how often I see roads pulled up for repairs, I suppose I was hoping that we’d all be so lucky.

    • tapanister says:

      @Wulf:

      I’m sure in 10 years from now there’ll be a lot of political prisoners on community service or worse to keep paving those roads XD

    • Gorgeras says:

      I remember a letter to a newspaper in 2003 after Saddam’s statue was pulled down; one thing on the video caught the reader’s eye:

      “So after a month of bombing, Baghdad still has better roads than than most UK cities…”

    • Wulf says:

      Good thing I don’t live near a city, I guess, especially since the air would kill me. I went to London once and almost had some sort of seizure, very unpleasant.

      I’ve mostly got fields, woodland, and things of the sort for miles around.

  48. Saul says:

    The best thing to do is to write your own letter, and write it in such a way that it contains questions that can’t easily be answered by a form letter. If possible, you should reference a variety of issues, so that your letter has to be handed between departments.

  49. cncplyr says:

    Done! However, I don’t expect much from my local mp…

  50. TeeJay says:

    I’m curious how easy it would be for someone to open up a new account if their old one is cut off…

    …do they black-list an address, a phone number, a person, a credit-card or bank account? How long does someone stay ‘cut off’ for?

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