Feeds

Parody is illegal, say barmy bureaucrats

Our prisons are full of oppressed satirists, apparently

The next step in data security

The IPO chose Office Party Friday last week to unveil 15 more proposals on intellectual property reform. This is traditionally the most alcoholic workday of the year - and ministers might need another stiff drink as they digest the surprises that ideologically fanatical bureaucrats have been preparing for them. Among the proposals is the suggestion to make copyright opt-in, which means the UK will be breaching European and international law, and the strange notion that parody and satire are illegal in the UK.

Traditionally the civil service is not supposed to set policy, but carry it out. The advice they give ministers is expected to be dispassionate and weighted. But this is the Intellectual Property Office. It's carjacked the policy bus and is driving it at the UK's creative industries, freelance sectors and creative amateurs too. These fifteen documents fully reveal the IPO's hand.

As an example of capture, we discussed the idea of "extended collective licensing" here on Friday, which barely rates a mention in the Hargreaves review but is the centrepiece of the consultation.

Together with orphan works reform this threatens to destroy the market for professionals and would reverse the internationally agreed legal protection against being ripped off for amateurs and professionals alike. Chief copyright bureaucrat Ed Quilty's first big idea on joining the IPO two years ago was making copyright opt-in - and finally, he sees his chance.

"It's like your local council licensing a massive gang of shoplifters, then giving them a rent-free shop on the high street in which to sell the goods they've just stolen from the other shops," is how one commenter describes it.

Since Berne and other conventions clearly state that IP legal protections are automatic, this promises a huge fight.

But no proposal is more surreal than the exemption for parody - so if you were ripping off Stairway to Heaven for your own rib-tickling Zepp parody, you wouldn't need to ask permission or expect to get sued if you get to number one in the charts with your derivative work. The system works just fine as it is - nobody is in jail - but according to the Maoists at the IPO, parody is illegal. Don't believe me? Have a look for yourself:

"FREEEEEZE! Put that parody down" - the world according to Ed Quilty [PDF]

It should be remembered how well the system works now. There is no copyright exemption for parody and satire, and yet satire booms. Professional parodists simply ask (and get) permission when they need it. The rest of us don't ask, but pay pennies to the creator in the unheard-of-event of it becoming popular - which is only fair. Yet according to the IPO, the exemption would create almost as much value as the entire UK TV industry in new works of parody.

This and more from the Maoists, can be found here.

I can't quite discount the idea that "the IPO" itself is an enormous parody, a sophisticated satire of how groupthink and utopianism can infect a small Whitehall department. We shall try calling Antony Jay, and find out. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.