Feeds

LibDems score copyright coup

Blocking by network address extended, after Lords hijack

High performance access to file storage

Mandybill The LibDems' surprise amendment to strengthen UK courts' powers over digital copyright infringement passed late last night, despite Labour and Tory opposition, replacing the government's original, preferred proposal in the Digital Economy Bill.

Out goes the ability of the Minister to extend copyright legislation by statutory instrument - something earlier Ministers have already exercised, in practice. In comes the ability of the courts to block network addresses based on infringement notifications.

As we explained yesterday, the amendment adds to the existing takedown-and-notification regime by giving courts the power to block access by network address. There are ifs and buts: clauses defending human rights, and a strange one requiring the copyright holder to have attempted to make the material available - a stalking horse, perhaps, for compulsory confiscation of property.

The effect isn't clear. For example, would the Daily Telegraph have been able to publish the MPs expenses scandal without its website being blocked? The expenses are Crown Copyright.

The revamped Section 17 caught campaigners on the hop. The two LibDem peers who proposed it, Lords Clement Jones and Razzell, had been consistently ISP-friendly over seven readings in the Lords. The two were behind the cheeky amendment to ensure hardcore infringers could enjoy fifty free download sessions (50 letters) before they could be threatened with technical measures - something more likely to help the beleaguered Post Office, and printer ink cartridge vendors, rather than copyright holders.

Clement Jones justified the LibDems' revised Section 17 by saying it was a better response to changing infringementware than Mandelson's proposal. Only 35 per cent of infringement was via P2P, and new technologies such as Rapidshare were always popping up. He wrote:

There are websites which consistently infringe copyright, many of them based outside the UK in countries such as Russia and beyond the jurisdiction of the UK courts.  Many of these websites refuse to stop supplying access to illegal content.

The intention is also for the injunction to only be possible for sites where there is a substantial proportion of infringing material that is either hosted by that particular site or is accessed through the particular site in question.

The injunction will only be granted where copyright owners had first requested ISPs to block access to the site and where they had also requested the site operator to stop providing access to the infringing material (either by removing the material itself or removing the ability to access the material).

There already exists a remedy under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (section 97A) which grants copyright owners a broad power to apply to the Court for an injunction.  Therefore, all amendment 120A does is enhance this power by giving copyright owners a more clearly defined route.

He added that his amendment "depoliticises the process", by taking it out of the hands of a minister (and Parliament) and into the mitts of a judge.

ISPs said it was a significant addition of Courts' powers - that's something that hasn't been debated at all.

"The justification made yesterday when it was introduced was based on a number of misjudgements," ISPA's policy spokesman told us.

"In a number of areas there are notice-and-takedown procedures in many areas; it's only in child protection that there is network level blocking," he explained.

The one area where ISPs block by network access is child pornography, but there's a para-legal entity there to administer that.

"It's a unique type of material, hence the decision by industry as a whole to come together to create the IWF. Copyright infringement isn't even a criminal offence, it's a civil matter: the two aren't comparable," ISPA told us.

"We feel all the implications haven't been considered."

An aggressive timetable is being set for the Bill, we understand, giving it two Commons readings this month. ®

[To read the new amendment in full, see Page 2]

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees
India's 'predictability and stability' cited as mobe-maker's tax payment deadline nears
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.