BREAKING: Leaked UK government plan to create "Pirate Finder General" with power to appoint militias, create laws

A source close to the British Labour Government has just given me reliable information about the most radical copyright proposal I've ever seen.

Secretary of State Peter Mandelson is planning to introduce changes to the Digital Economy Bill now under debate in Parliament. These changes will give the Secretary of State (Mandelson -- or his successor in the next government) the power to make "secondary legislation" (legislation that is passed without debate) to amend the provisions of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).

What that means is that an unelected official would have the power to do anything without Parliamentary oversight or debate, provided it was done in the name of protecting copyright. Mandelson elaborates on this, giving three reasons for his proposal:

1. The Secretary of State would get the power to create new remedies for online infringements (for example, he could create jail terms for file-sharing, or create a "three-strikes" plan that costs entire families their internet access if any member stands accused of infringement)

2. The Secretary of State would get the power to create procedures to "confer rights" for the purposes of protecting rightsholders from online infringement. (for example, record labels and movie studios can be given investigative and enforcement powers that allow them to compel ISPs, libraries, companies and schools to turn over personal information about Internet users, and to order those companies to disconnect users, remove websites, block URLs, etc)

3. The Secretary of State would get the power to "impose such duties, powers or functions on any person as may be specified in connection with facilitating online infringement" (for example, ISPs could be forced to spy on their users, or to have copyright lawyers examine every piece of user-generated content before it goes live; also, copyright "militias" can be formed with the power to police copyright on the web)

Mandelson is also gunning for sites like YouSendIt and other services that allow you to easily transfer large files back and forth privately (I use YouSendIt to send podcasts back and forth to my sound-editor during production). Like Viacom, he's hoping to force them to turn off any feature that allows users to keep their uploads private, since privacy flags can be used to keep infringing files out of sight of copyright enforcers.

This is as bad as I've ever seen, folks. It's a declaration of war by the entertainment industry and their captured regulators against the principles of free speech, privacy, freedom of assembly, the presumption of innocence, and competition.

This proposal creates the office of Pirate-Finder General, with unlimited power to appoint militias who are above the law, who can pry into every corner of your life, who can disconnect you from your family, job, education and government, who can fine you or put you in jail.

More to follow, I'm sure, once Open Rights Group and other activist organizations get working on this. In the meantime, tell every Briton you know. If we can't stop this, it's beginning of the end for the net in Britain.


  1. Is “Pirate-Finder General” an official title? Seriously, have the british learned nothing from the witch trials? Instead of hunting witches, we hunt pirates in the 21st century? This is what Orwell was warning us about.

    1. It’s most likely a reference to the “Pedo Finder General” from the brilliant “Monkeydust” series, a vigilante who claims similarly wide reaching powers. He can be seen in action on YouTube.

  2. For “planning to introduce changes to the Digital Economy Bill now under debate in Parliament” read “planning to introduce the details of the Digital Economy Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech”. It’s hard to debate a bill that’s not even been published.

  3. How likely is it that the British parliament will vote to give themselves less power? In my experience that is not in the nature of politicians. And if they do grant all these new powers to the Secretary of State, isn’t the effectively what they are doing?

    1. I’m not very familiar with the procedural day-to-day in Britain, but abrogation of power happens fairly often here in Canada through orders in council. You’ll also note that the U.S. Congress gave away it’s Constitutionally-endowed war powers to the Executive re: the Iraq war. One of the only opponents to the infamous ‘blank check’ was the Dean of the Senate, Robert Byrd (D-WV), who didn’t necessarily oppose the war as such but did not want Congress to establish such a bad precedent (when not a stone’s throw away from senile, he’s known in the Senate as a procedural maven who takes a long view in matters of precedent). And this is to say nothing of the unofficial giveaways of power to lobbyists, etc.

      Unfortunately, it happens more frequently than we would like.

      1. since secondary legislation and hasn’t been approved by all parliament, the judiciary has the power to kill it if they find it unreasonable, else it’d just be a blatant loophole to get anything into law. so corys fantasies of peaceful file sharers holding placards of britney spears new album being crushed by tanks in trafalgar square will prob. have to wait.

  4. Hm, while I don’t doubt that this isn’t true, “a source” and Cory’s somewhat reactionary approach to this kind of thing makes we wonder if this nightmarish depiction of the situation is accurate. Has anyone got a secondary source for this story yet..?

  5. …Holy shit. Just. What? Holy SHIT.

    That’s… I would like to kick people. That’s just WRONG. On SO many levels.

  6. Wow. Just wow. LMAO even.

    If “Cory’s somewhat reactionary approach to this kind of thing” makes it look worse, this is very bad even in a much less extreme presentation.

  7. Looks like Britain is following the in the footsteps of the US President’s “Czars” approach to industry regulation. Not that Obama is the first to have appointed one, but there are so many of them now it’s completely out of hand.

  8. I’m just advocating a confirmation of the facts before the inevitable mass freak-out. Naïve, I know…

    1. I agree, we should confirm the facts, but considering the extra ordinary steps that governments and corporations are taking to combat the perceived menace of pirating IP (see ACTA), trusting this nugget of information seems reasonable.

      I would go one step further than cory, and warn that this could be a death nell for the internet at large. Lets say, for example that Britain goes through with this; and its a smashing success. Pirates are jailed en mass and demonized, much to the joy of greedy corporations. Then other countries want to get in on the action and create similar positions within their own governments, or even a U.N. backed “Pirate-Finder General” office.

      Take what I say with a grain of salt, I am amused and frightened that I can so easily fear-monger when it suits my own interests, much like some of the talking heads on radio and television.

    2. I’m just advocating a confirmation of the facts before the inevitable mass freak-out.

      Because closing the barn door after the cow’s run away has always worked so well.

      Once it’s in writing, the government will find it very hard to back down. If there’s sufficient outcry before it’s publicly presented, it could change or disappear.

  9. Make sure you sign up with ORG to campaign on this bill:

    We’ve not seen the full details, but it is certainly true that much of the powers granted will be put through ‘secondary legislation’ and only a tiny fraction of the proposals (some six or nine paragraphs) will be in the Bill itself.

  10. Can’t wait to actually see this damn bill. It’s going to be a typical Labour job of introducing a 200 page Bill with only a week to read it before debate no doubt.

    1. Well, ORG should do what Talkingpointsmemo does: ask its’ members & supporters to volunteer to read portions of the bill.

      1. @anon92: It’s ok, there are plenty of us at ORG who’ll be only too happy to read the whole bill, cover to cover. Gives me something useful to do when polluting my lungs with nicotine ;o)

        Owen (proud to be a member of the ORG Advisory Council)

  11. All this was in Digital Britain report.

    “If we can’t stop this, it’s beginning of the end for the net in Britain.”

    No it isn’t.

    More laws and regulations are created through secondary legislation in Britain than Parliament ever sees. It may be undemocratic, but it is nothing new and certainly not unique.

    A passing familiarity with UK law would be helpful here to avoid own goals.

  12. NOBODY expects the English Inquisition!

    Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Entertainment Industry.

    1. Thank God they don’t have the surprise or efficiency then!

      It will be interested to see how this rolls out.

  13. @Heartfruit: Granting powers to the Secretary of State to enact secondary legislation is quite normal in British politics. It means the nitty-gritty detail of legislation can be handled without having to get both Houses’ consent on all the minutiæ, once the general principles have been agreed by Parliament.

    It’s not even slightly unusual. But it’s always something worth keeping an eye on.

  14. I, too, would like some confirmation on this. It sounds entirely plausible, and Cory’s interpretation seems like what would inevitably occur as a result of the broad scope the description gives (which, the politicians may not have been trying for, but tend to end up creating). Still, the title says “BREAKING” and it’s from an unnamed source within the government, which sounds like the knee-jerk reporting we hear all over the rest of the MSM. At least he was clear that this isn’t known fact.

    This law is already being debated in Parliament, correct? Let’s wait until this amendment hits the bill and then we can start yelling hysterically.

  15. This is a landgrab by the UK govt, trying to establish the authority to regulate the internet in a very deep and invasive way, under the guise (and funding) of copyright protection.

    This is also the real hidden issue with the Network Neutrality laws as most folks think of them- there are explicit carve-outs in the US for them to go after copyright violations. This means that the FCC will be in charge of regulating who is given what level of network service- and they have a horrible horrible track record. The US Network Neutrality debate has geeks preparing to give fundamental control of the US internet over to the most captive regulators in the goverment outside the pentagon.

    You thought the senator from disney was bad? Wait ’till the FCC regulator from disney is deciding whether or not to route your packets.

  16. “Let’s wait until this amendment hits the bill and then we can start yelling hysterically.”

    Maybe if we start yelling hysterically early enough, the amendment will never reach the bill at all.

  17. Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Entertainment Industry. … and corruption…. out *FOUR* weapons are…

  18. it just shows that as classical mass production is failing left and right, thanks to shipping costs going up up up, the only way to keep the fat cats fat is by slapping rent in thoughts and ideas.

    btw, recaptcha seems to have a sense of humor, it gave me morsels as one of the words…

  19. These provisions closely mirror some of those contained in the early drafts of the recent Coroners and Justice Bill. There is an increasing tendency for Acts of parliament to confer delegated legislative powers upon government ministers. In the case of the above bill it was in terms of data sharing between government departments. That bill too tried to allow ministers to create criminal offences by delegated legislation. It is simply unacceptable that these things should be removed from the oversight of parliament. Copyright is becoming a serious battleground between the state and its subjects. The only organisation that seems to be fighting back at the moment, much as I don’t usually sing its praises, is the EU. I think that we should all do our best to complain about these proposals if they become part of the bill.

  20. Anti-piracy measures are like trying to make a colander watertight to stop bacteria from getting through it. Nothing good can come of it.

  21. Secondary legislation is not in itself evil: it is appropriate to take the detailed decisions out of Parliament when the details are highly technical (exceeding the expertise of MPs), or change regularly (such as environmental standards). Geek stuff moves so fast that it’s appropriate in this regard.

    It’s Cory’s second point that has me worried. Conferred rights are hairy scary things, and the RIAA knocking on your door at 3am with a right to decrypt your laptops is… not a happy place. Though ripe for japes…

    Aaaand, it’s fully-encrypted service in 3, 2, 1…

  22. Such powers already exist for many civil servant if the do things under the label of fighting terrorism.

    1. You’re right. But what makes it even more galling is that in this case there isn’t some crazy dude with a bomb even remotely involved, but rather these powers are attached to corporations to do as they please.

  23. The twice disgraced apparatchik Lord Fondlebum is suggesting a cadre of digital Riding Officers? Yeah, that’ll work. “Censorship = damage” and all…

    This sounds like the outrageously OTT set-up for another b******t Labour ‘compromise’:

    “After consultation with stakeholders (ie: our paymasters), we’re going to kick you, the public, in the nuts and throw excrement at you.”
    Cue public outcry.
    “In light of public outcry we’re *only* going to throw excrement at you after all.”
    And, the PTB get what they wanted all along…

    Oh, and the majority part in Parliament can already ram through amendments to legislation without a full debate: Legislative Instruments.

    wv: gimmicks Fascist – yep, that’s Mandy

  24. Time to leave this god awful country. Talk about selling out and stifling technology. This government has turned back the clocks. Its now 1984 here!

  25. So how do we actually stop this happening? Let’s be honest, signing a petition does nothing as Mandelson clearly couldn’t care less what the public think. We may have the right to protest but it never seems to acheive anything. If Mandy was working to please voters then things wouldn’t have gotten this far in the first place. He’s either very stupid or in the pockets of the record labels and movie companies.

    1. Actually thats a right we brits dont have, they already took that one.

      but incase they had not noticed we do it anyway :-D

    1. @anon35: Not quite. Wikipedia: Statutory Instruments (UK) gives a good summary. Basically, the details of most of our laws are handled by statutory instruments, which still go through Parliament, but “on the nod” — they can’t be amended or debated in any detail and the government’s majority almost always ensure they just get approved.

      There’s nothing fundamentally immoral about SIs, they should just be kept for things that are uncontroversial. Classifying new narcotics or signalling the entrance into force of earlier legislation are the kinds of things that are routinely done by SIs. See a list of 2007’s SIs, for example.

  26. Reminds of RIPA act. Now that is an anti-terrorism law, and it has being used to spy on people that overfill their dustbins.

  27. Personally I find this truly remarkable. Just think; within a few short years the British could enjoy less personal freedom on the Web than the average Chinese or Iranian. Such Progress!

  28. Peter Mandelson is a very clever bloke. It’s just possible he’s deliberately introduced all this crap now when it stands a very good chance of being talked out in the House of Lords.

    Thereby appearing to have attempted to give big copyright all it wants and be in a position to take up lucrative directorships.

    After all, after the next election, is the Packetsniffer General actually going to be him?

  29. listen to The Man In The Glasses, folks. Anytime there’s even a hint of legislators trying to make arrangements without due process (“Secondary legislation” and “conferring rights” indeed) we need to be alarmed.

    Don’t pick up the pitchforks just yet.. but keep’m handy.

  30. So record labels and studios could get these new powers – what about individual rights holders? Do they have the same power? Because so much support for this stuff is based on the idea, ‘Hey, I am a small photographer, so I am a rights holder, and as such I support these things that strengthen me.’

  31. We used to say “1984 isn’t an instruction manual!”
    now we can say the same about Little Brother

  32. alarmist posts like this trivialize the debate a bit too much for me, tbh, it’s as dim as calling yourself the pirate party and expecting soccer moms to take you seriously. reading this I’m like, meh, cory’s on his hobby horse tweeting at windmills again. /ignore.

    anyways, if it helps stopping gpl or cc license abuse, it’s not all downside

  33. I’m shocked and appalled that they didn’t specify that the post was to be filled by a ninja.

    Cory’s overreaction in the face of speculation and unsubstantiated hearsay however is something I’m used to.

  34. Piers W #22: “Peter Mandelson is a very clever bloke. It’s just possible he’s deliberately introduced all this crap now when it stands a very good chance of being talked out in the House of Lords […] and be in a position to take up lucrative directorships. ”

    That assumes that MadNelson gives a crap about being fair to the British public or the consequences that we have to deal with as a result of his decrees. He doesn’t: he’s not even elected. I’d call him a quisling, but he has no loyalty to the British people to betray.

    In a saner world his head would be on a pike outside parliament along with those of the traitors to democracy who appointed him.


    ps. I’ll be waiting for confirmation too. I’ve been fooled too many times by copyright hyperbole that doesn’t stack up in the cold light of day. People like myself need people who keep on top of this stuff and shout it loud and clear when shennanigans inevitably occur, but we need solid facts not exaggeration or manipulative propaganda on which to make sense of it all and formulate a response.

    (It’s hard enough fighting all the stuff the copyright cartels dish out without being misled to by one’s own side.)

  35. Somebody more talented than me should come up with a Gilbert & Sullivan riff on the Pirate Finder General to the tune of Modern Major General (which is what automatically played in my head with that title).

    1. I am the very model of a Pirate Finder General
      My remit runs from a to z, from animal to mineral
      The government has issued me with pow’rs plenipotentiary
      To seize you and to pack you off to any penitentiary

      I’m perfectly remorseless in pursuit of things piratical
      I’m always in the office and I never take sabbaticals
      You’d be amazed at all the powers that are vested in this entity
      To compromise your systems and reveal your identity.

      The doctrine of Fair Use I condemn as quite erroneous
      And probably harmful if not actively felonious
      And though my own position may in time prove quite ephemeral
      For now I am the model of a Pirate Finder General

      I’m not above resorting to intrusive tricks and hackery
      If I chance to be confronted by a lock to which I lack a key
      I recognize no boundaries either moral or international
      At times my hate for piracy approaches the irrational

      I interpret legal precedents with admirable latitude
      For which my true employers never fail to show their gratitude
      I’m a salaried employee of a corp’rate aristocracy
      In fact, my mere existence makes a nonsense of democracy

      I exist to serve the interests of a privileged minority
      By whom I have been granted quite extraordinary authority
      My jurisdiction ranges from the local to the federal
      In short, I am the model of a Pirate Finder General

      My attitude to human rights is simply reprehensible
      I prosecute whole familes for reasons indefensible
      I terminate connections be they wired or ethereal
      And consider all objections to be strictly immaterial

      Although you may deplore the fact and label it regrettable
      I find the rule of law to be entirely forgettable
      If it has any virtues, I must confess I’ve never known ’em
      For I’ve always held that capital’s the only summum bonum

      I’m answerable to no one, I enjoy complete autonomy
      In my tireless crusade against foes of the Economy
      And though my own position may in time prove quite ephemeral
      For now I am the model of a Pirate Finder General

  36. An amendment to this proposal, a company caught using child labour three times has its Intellectual Property auctioned off. A three strikes and your out law on child labour via patents, copyright and logos.

  37. BEDEVERE: So, logically…

    MrJM: If… she… weighs… the same as a duck,… she’s made of wood.

    BEDEVERE: And therefore?

    MrJM: A Pirate!

  38. I thought a friend in China was being alarmist when he suggested that one day the UK government would just decide to turn off the internet. It’s looking increasingly that way. Death by a thousand cuts. Once they’re done the only websites you’ll be able to access will be Sky and the Disney Channel. Oh, and a pirate bay where you can buy albums for £14.99.

  39. Peter Mandelson. Peter Mandelson. Peter Mandelson.

    If all politicians were of his ilk, we truly would be in a pickle. One is bad, bad, bad enough.

  40. @Octopod:
    There are two problems with this.

    1) The British judiciary are equipped with the power to kill it, yes. Whether they have the intelligence, knowledge and willingness to kill it is an entirely different topic. Internationally, judges on average suck at tech / IP issues. Depends on the judge, of course.

    2) The judiciary have no power to do anything unless and until a case reaches court… by which point it’s likely-to-the-point-of-certainty that a number of hideously unjust and disgusting things have already happened.

  41. Fear, Uncertainty and… Corey? :)

    At first I thought it was about taking things back on the high seas (which might not be a bad idea).

  42. The people in government are there, in general, because they want power (and not necessarily in a bad sense). For this reason, governments are, in general, loathe to give up power. If anything, they try to accumulate more power. They don’t just hand it over to others.

    Yet here we have a government which is supposedly considering handing over the power to make and enforce laws (basically their most precious commodity) to corporations. We’ve seen this sort of thing considered in fiction, but there it’s done out of desperation. For example, a biological warfare attack, collapse of the food supply, or maybe even an alien invasion. But over copyright? I don’t think even the most fanciful of science fiction writers predicted that vector (unless it was very, very recently).

    I don’t believe this passes the smell test. Instead, it’s more likely to be an entertainment industry wishlist. I expect the government to tell them no way we’re giving you the Crown Jewels of our power. And can you imagine an elected official trying to explain why (s)he voted for a bill that destroyed his/her constituents’ lives like this?

    But even if the entertainment industry does get this power, in the end, they can’t win by waging war on their customers.

    Lawrence Lessig likes to tell the story of how when Henry Ford started mass producing cars, some of the car makers that still made cars by hand started suing consumers who bought Ford’s cars. Not a single one of those companies exists today.

    If the entertainment industry tries this, they will fail miserably, and in the end, will merely hasten their own demise. The root problem is that their business model is dying. Their only hope is to lengthen its demise as long as possible. Making enemies of their customers will only shorten its life.

  43. All,

    This is the standard operating procedure used by the Labour government for the last 10 years for every piece of contentious legislation. Present a bill that is utterly outrageous, then when the clamour is in full hew and cry, back down on the most egregious parts and actually keep in the bits you wanted in the first place. Then everybody will turn round and say, “ohh, isn’t he a nice man, he listened to the will of the people”.

    What you’re looking at isn’t what they want. However, the hard part is figuring that out, and the even harder part is fighting it all


  44. “NOBODY expects the English Inquisition!

    Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency”

    Only one out of those three is true ;)

  45. An unelected official (who has previously had to resign twice because of his “activities”), completely and utterly compromised by American businessmen (Geffen in Corfu should be mentioned AGAIN) trying to get sole power to create British laws. Yeah, that’s nothing to worry about or anything.

  46. Oh boy, this is really awful. Even if it doesn’t pass muster with the British Parliament, it’s still a gun fired at the British public and they won’t stop firing these guns until they get what they want. It seems like a never-ending battle to maintain basic common-sense freedoms.

    Quite frankly, I’m not sure why anyone live in GB. I honestly would not even vacation there because I don’t believe I could take a shower in a hotel without being filmed. On the other hand, I could probably just order my vacation movies directly from the British government so I would not have to pack a camera.

    Mr. Doctorow, have you ever considered leaving Britain to the dogs and moving to the U.S. where the fight might actually be winnable?

    1. @#39 Alessandro, that’s a very defeatist attitude.

      I’m one of the people who would rather change what he has than move away to where the grass is supposedly greener.

      FWIW, M**ndelson is a sinister corporate shill who needs to be booted out of any position of power, and I intend to see that happen.


  47. Think this one through a bit — how many customers will the ISPs allow to be anonymously turned off before they revolt? They may want to realize that a rule like this has the potential to terminate new customer growth, and accelerate customer churn.

  48. ArnoDick–

    That looks like a Jan Luykens engraving from The Martyrs Mirror by Thieleman J. van Braght (Full title: The Bloody Theater of Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only Upon Confession of Faith, and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus, their Saviour, From the Time of Christ to the Year A.D. 1660.)

    Such cheerful illustrations have informed Anabaptists (Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites) of the dangers (and spiritual rewards) of challenging the status quo for upwards of 350 years.

  49. All of this copyright nonsense is enough to make one want to join forces with the pirates and form some sort of super-criminal outfit that would steal IP so effectively worldwide that it would wreak havoc in the publishing, music, and movie industries. Some sort of off-shore gang of movie-snatchers that could bring Warner Bros. to its knees.

    Why don’t we all just steal everything… every single thing, without any regard whatsoever to morality. Without any concern whatsoever for what’s right. We could just steal as a single gigantic mass of population until these companies whither and collapse.

    Call it a revolution. No revolution is ever started by people who sit and wonder, ‘Well, is it right? Is it really legal and moral?’ No. A revolution is started by people who stand up and say, ‘I’m sick of this shit. Let’s end it.’

    I’m not joking at all. Perhaps it’s time to just break the system and see what happens.

    Everything that goes up on YouTube should be stolen IP. That’s a start.

    Maybe China’s right after all. They steal everything. They’re prospering too. The only problem with my plan is that most of this crap ain’t worth stealing anyway. I’d get bored with my own revolution on the first day because of movies like ‘Twilight.’

  50. I saw something like this on a show called Merlin season 2 episode 7 called The Witchfinder. I’d post a link to it on Hulu but it’s not there. You will have to watch a pirated copy like I did.

  51. After reading some more on this issue I’m not sure what’s worse – Mandelson with his unelectedness and his love of having trips to Corfu being paid for by David Geffen (did I mention that before?) or the Tories who are supporting such suggestions to appease their leader Rupert Murdoch. Oh who am I kidding? I know exactly who is worse. Neither. They’re both equally despicable.

  52. @#45, Squiggle,

    Yeah, I know. You’re right. I’m just pulling legs a little. I always support changing what one is trying to live with ultimately. But I’m only able to be serious for half of a comment. Then I just have to slide into silliness. It’s the typing I think. I just like to hear myself type.

  53. Secretary of State Peter Mandelson is an unelected official who was given the power to do pretty much what he likes because the Prime Minister, who is in free-fall when it comes to popularity, morality and ideology, thought it would resurrect the fortunes of the current government. This is yet another example of the erosion of civil liberties in the UK and the imposition of authoritarianism that harks back to the middle ages.
    If ever you needed an example of the damage an unelected official – who essentially does not have public accountability when it comes to being voted out, and so has no public contract – can bring down on the people if given the mandate to do so then here it is.

  54. Cory I suggest you read this about FACT Ltd:

    ..and then I suggest you read this judgement from last week regarding how the Court Of Appeal, after a mysterious last minute change of Judge (Levison LJ), then literally reversed 30 years of law and gave private companies (eg FACT) the ability to have the Police hold property for their “investigations” and private prosecutions.

    The law world is pretty stunned, especially as the first instance judgement was so strongly in favour of Scopelight Ltd having their property back only to have the very judge who was parachuted in last minute rip their counsel to bits in a stunning act of hostility and then hijack the appeal and write the judgement rewriting the existing law.

    In brief the Vickermans (who own Scopelight Ltd which in turn owns a video search engine) were arrested in 2008 after FACT told Northumbria Police they were “selling movies and TV programmes” through the STC website, something that anyone who uses the site knows is a total lie. The police handed all the property to FACT and four months later the CPS decided that No Further Action was required as the Vickermans had not broken any law as far as they could see. Quite reasonably the couple then asked for their property back and the Police informed them that FACT were refusing to return it. The Vickerman’s/Scopelight sued FACT and the Police for it back and FACT retaliated by mounting an abusive private prosecution against the couple for mass copyright infringement and conspiracy to defraud. FACT also tried to financially strangle them by having their pet unit, the Bedfordshire Trading Stabndards Financial Intelligence Unit, hit the couple with a financial restraint order which yet again used evidence from FACT that the website “sold tv and movies” and that it was a “torrent” website. After a month of financial starvation and credit rating ruin the couple got the order discharged after the BTSFIU refused to defend themselves in court (they did not want their lies exposed).

    In mid 2009 the case over the property came before Sharp J in the High court and she ruled that the police could not retain property for a private prosecutor. She gave an in depth analysis of the issues of the case and why it was dangerous to allow private companies to have power over other people’s property as FACT were used to having (through the Police). FACT were beat, the Vickermans and Scopelight had won. But then FACT appealed and as can be seen from the judgement Levison LJ slalommed around the existing law to get to the undoubted pre-ordained verdict that he wanted to reach.

    FACT have lied, cheated and, from the Court Of Appeal farce, seems to have corrupted its way to a victory. The only route left fopr the Vickermans is the Supreme Court but FACT are trying to bankrupt the couple so that they can’t afford to fund the petition to the Supreme court.

    It is absolutely disgusting. If you are worried about what is in this bill and what powers the copyright industry may get you need to wake up and smell the shit, they already have these powers and are ruining peoples lives as we speak.

  55. Can we PLEASE stop basing criminal law on goddamn baseball? This 3 strikes crap has gotten out of hand. What next, no hands allowed in court as in soccer?

  56. For those who still wonder why governments put so much effort into fighting piracy, if you see piracy as what it essentially is – uncontrolled flow of information – things become much more clear.
    Yes, they’re corporate shills but they also fear as death people who can freely communicate. Free and uncensored mass communication produces culture, knowledge and encourages independence.

  57. Will this happen before the next parliament? Mandy should be gone by then!
    At the end of the day all this will do is catch the low hanging fruit, Teenagers in their rooms downloading music because the industry isn’t willing to change. The “Real criminals” will get round this and will still be sell DVD’s down the pub to fund Drugs/terrorism or whatever the latest government scare story is.

    P.S. my CAPTCHA word is Crazies sums it up

  58. Cory, you seem to be not quite right about how secondary legislation works — it is not passed without parliamentary oversight; it will be read in both houses of parliament, and either house may move to overrule it. This is, therefore, a lot less scary than you’re suggesting, and is virtually standard practice for new legislation these days.

    Now, if some proposed regulations were published and had issues, then I’d start worrying.

  59. The way this government brings in unpleasant legislation follows certain patterns, and I would bet that this plan by Vold^WMandelson is going to fit the model.

    What they do is come up with what the goals they want to achieve in private. They know what they come up with, no matter how “good” or “bad”, it will come under attack from groups with vested interests and political opposition, and what they want will inevitably get scaled back.

    So they come up with their plan, and come up with a version 3 times worse than they want. They leak the extra bad idea to the press (or to a blog this time), and the press and internet go nuts in reaction to the plan. But the politicians can hide behind the fact it was leaked and deny that is their plan at all.

    The vitriol generated tells them which parts of the plan will not fly, and which they can deal with with some spin. They announce their revised plan (now at 2x what they want), roll things back a bit (to 1 times) as a token lip service to democracy, and then go on to implement what they wanted in the first place.

    We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again: this system works for getting unpopular legislation on the books.

  60. Yep ISPs will not be ‘neutral’ as the article claims, or not for long anyway. They will not like losing customers, and by definition they are one of the few businesses left with at least some guaranteed local employees. So please Geffen and Murdoch, or please millions of local consumers and business. Maybe some pols are greedy enough to take the bribe, but they won’t last and may have to run.

    There is no way this can possibly play out the way the MAFIAA wants, unless maybe their plan is to hire Blackwater for some sort of elaborate kidnapping and incarceration scheme. Ransom?

  61. I hope musicians will see sense and boycott these bastards – by recording their own music under their own labels.

    I will not be purchasing another CD from any of the main labels, if this legislation goes through.

  62. Oh my nonexistent god.
    I think I’m at the stage where I may have to vote Tory, as I am damned & burning in a figurative hell if I am voting Labour again, after years & years of hoping beyond hope that they’d get in, during the Thatcher & Major years, bloody hell… I can’t vote Lib Dem in my area because they won’t even campaign here so what choice do I really have?

    I could cry, really I could. Can we have democracy in the UK please?

  63. @Julien Bond: Whilst funny as hell, it’s the unfortunate truth.

    For those wondering this is the same person who has been litterally sacked, fired, not shuffled around, from government positions REPEATEDLY. And he’s back AGAIN.

  64. “What that means is that an unelected official would have the power to do anything without Parliamentary oversight or debate, provided it was done in the name of protecting copyright.”

    All Statutory Instruments must be presented to Parliament. Many are subject to the “negative resolution procedure”, which means that unless the opposition “prays against” the legislation, it will be passed without debate. Such instruments are usually used for uncontroversial matters, such as annual increases in state benefits, etc.

    More controversial secondary legislation is subject to the “positive resolution procedure”. This means the Statutory Instrument can only become law after a resolution by both Houses. Such legislation is normally debated by Standing Orders Committees in both the Commons and the Lords.

    Clause 17 of the new Bill provides for the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act to be amended at section 302. It does give the Secretary of State powers to make further amendments to section 302 by secondary legislation “it appears to the Secretary of State appropriate to do so having regard to technological developments that have occurred or are likely to occur”. The power is subject to the “positive resolution procedure”, so such changes must be debated by both Houses before becoming law.

  65. We already have 2 bodies like this in Holland.

    One is called Buma/Stemra and the other is BREIN. The first one can create ‘rules’ which don’t have to go through parliament (essentially they’re laws). The second one is the organisation that hunts pirates. They’re famous for suing The Pirate Bay and Mininova.

  66. For good or for ill- as a poster said above, all this will do is catch the low-lying fruit.
    Within two months this will have spurred on the geniuses to create a truly anonymous upload/download system.
    It will defeat this fascist nonsense while giving the rock spiders a free pass.
    John Q will rejoice again in the forces of good while every other prick will punish the digital media for ripping us off for 30 years…or suck the lifeblood/money from the creative types who entertain us, whichever way you look at it.

  67. It is ironic that this British “Baby Boomer” government used to label everyone in their youth who disagreed with their creed back then as “crypto fascist”.
    Well for a bunch of liberal social activists and hippies that wanted to make the world a better place I have never come across a more illiberal bunch of tossers.
    Terrorism has been used as an excuse to spy on the British public whilst clearly Mandelson is in bed with the industry……EMI paying his mortgage payments?
    What a bunch of corrupt self serving mendacious hypocrites that call themselves progressive and liberal.
    Roll on the General Election so that they can all be turfed out once and for all.

  68. Just reading the headline I thought you were talking about the pirates of the coast of Africa and had visions of a modern day Robert Maynard taking on the equivalent of and African Blackbeard. Funny how that seems more palatable to me that the truth.

  69. Hi, I’m a Brit and please believe me we are living in the most dictatorial time ever in British history. I have just revived a letter from my local council which states that I have been chosen to take part in the second phase of there KIT program. This means that they will visit my home at a given date where I will be interviewed. I have been instructed in the letter that I will be required to show them around all the rooms in my home and will be required also to fill in some forms but as yet I don’t know the content of the said forms. we are now living in a climate of fear that has been instigated by this unelected Government, or should I say Dictatorship. In my fifty one years I have never heard so many of my people say they cant wait till voting day to get rid of this Evil force that has infested my once great Country. They have divided the people with so called Multiculturalism,they have left the Nation impoverished and broke, we have fuel poverty, pensioner poverty, child poverty. Gordon Brown and Tony Blair ( a thousand curses on there heads )have ransacked the nations pensions and taken my country into an illegal and immoral war I can only pray that it will all end soon. Democracy and freedom are only words until you loose them.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more. Even better that both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown should be sent to the Tower of London for treason of the highest count.

  70. Well geeks and geekettes how many minutes will it take to defeat anything these tossers throw at us , Really ?
    Our masters are illiterate and lazy beyond all belief. They haven’t a hope in Hell of doing anything. Unless you let them. They need help logging in ,”password” is their password…they are fools..rather like the “entertainers” who hope to benefit from this Orwellian leviathan.

    1. No, they’ve rejected doing it Europe-wide. That doesn’t prevent member states implementing something similar themselves…

  71. Its a one bill fits all approach, drive the dissenters into the new US of EU courts, suits the black prince either way methinks.

  72. Peter Mandelson should not even be in a position to be able propose such ridiculous measures. He’s been forced to resign twice previously as cabinet minister due to under-handed money dealing, so is famous for his complete lack of integrity.

  73. When are people going to learn that in order to kill this beast, they need to stop feeding it?

    Stop going to the movies
    Stop purchasing music, movies or games.

    They exist only because we allow them to exist.
    The music / movie industry has forgotten that they exist only because we allow them to.

    Starve it to death, let them die, and what you will see emerge from their corpse will be something much better.

  74. hahahahahaha. FTP. Private Webservers. Encrypted Traffic. Do they REALLY think they will abolish Piracy? For every clever person in Government, or enforcing agency, there will be 100 more in the public. This isn’t realistic. It’s a POLITICAL move.

    IF, and thats a BIG “IF”, they manage to cause any SERIOUS annoyance to the worlds cleverest ‘Black Hats’ what do you think will be done to them?

    Do your best. I await the results with anticipated amusement :))))

  75. You really miss us over there don’t you? You kept Australia in the back bed room and now New Zealand’s scamming us all in the name of exotic location and cinematography.

    And jeez…The Secretary of State…it’s bad enough that I can’t watch Dr. Who on this side of the pond thanks to YOUR Maritime Laws wayward and wandering behavior and now you’re ripping us on our Colonial themes and robbing Disney and the Pirates Franchise.

  76. someone how i imagine that any government that passes this will not find itself in power after the next election – this is an atrocious bill, and has no place in the free world

  77. Oh, it is the Pirate-Smeller Pursuivant. Delegated power to do whatever, as long as it can somehow be linked to infringement – er, piracy, I mean.

    I think this will only serve to lead people to see all Law as a joke.

  78. The Power to make statutory instruments exists within a framework of appeal, checks and balances, and holds the Secretary of State liable for his or her decisions. Decisions have to be defensible in a tribunal (eg Department of Work and Pensions Statutory Instruments are defended on a daily basis) and they are frequently overturned. If statutory instruments are overturned too frequently then jobs are lost, white papers written and new laws passed.

    The big objection to the power of making statutory instruments is that the Secretary of State can, for example, overturn unfair Terms of Service on Games Vendors networks; insist that Social Networking Sites adhere to the Data Protection Act for UK users. The big advantage of statutory instruments is that they can be overturned by any person over the age of 12 (with adult help) and definitely over the age of 18.

    Before condemning this power, bear in mind that the biggest cost of keeping up with statutory instruments is not borne by the consumer (who can pop along to the Department and ask for a statutory instrument to be put in place with an adequate legal argument) but big businesses who “interpret” their “contracts” on a whim. Statutory instruments pin businesses down to meaning what they say and saying what they mean.

    Without an effective system of statutory instruments, the whole Bank Charges system in the UK would have been unchallengeable. The Government knows that the Unfair Contract Terms Act is limited and that the Banks manipulate the use of the act. It is a triumph that the Government refused to allow the situation to be resolved through statutory instruments.

    The biggest problem with a minster holding such instrumental powers is that it exposes their decisions to scrutiny only if people educate themselves in how to read, interpret, challenge and demand them. Big Businesses can employ Lawyers to do this, but the Minster has a duty to the People and Electorate to educate them in how to make use of the instruments.

    Much the same as electing the Sheriff and Dogcatcher are mechanisms of accountability in the US, Statutory Instruments can be mechanisms in the UK. Object to them all you want but object by insisting there is a clear duty of care from the minister to address challenges to them. Preventing their existence only benefits those with the deepest pockets.

  79. The tone is a bit shrill I live in the UK and I haven’t heard any of this. The things about internet piracy file sharing whatever you want to call it, is that if these kind of laws are brought in it will hurt/destroy the ISP’s business, so why should one business be hurt against another, IE the IP holders business against the ISP (or if you are Virgin both). The thing record companies and movie studios need to understand is that the goose that laid the golden egg is now dead, as soon as any content is created it can be shared instantly around the world, and they aren’t going to be able to stop it without seriously constraining our rights, and we as a society aren’t going to go for it, it isn’t worth it. None of this is going to kill music or film, music doesn’t rely on being recorded, music existed before records and it will exist after, it is only be some quirk of science that musicians can now make obscene amounts of money. The record industry has ripped us of for years anyway, CD’s have always been a lot more expensive in the UK than in the US and the rest of Europe, and the record companies have had a double dip of our money as we bought CD’s of albums we had already on vinyl, thus quite a lot of us have paid twice for their IP. So it’s hard to feel sorry for them. Why should some nasty drugged up self obsessed long haired freak be able to make more money than a Doctor, Teacher, or Nurse just because they can knock 3 chords together, with a few moronic words. No, musicians would have to go back to just making a living like the rest of us, and music would be better off for it, when people realised that they can’t make a bundle from it, the only people that would go into music would be those who actually did it for the love of it. And the story that the record companies trot out that the money goes into artist development is complete bollocks, the Beatles arrived at the door of EMI fully formed just from playing live and being musicians. As for films, going to the pictures is a treat it is about watching it on a big screen with a live audience, the film industry prophesied doom when videos recorders came out, and the attendance in cinemas has increased massively since the late 70’s. Anyway to British people who know who Peter Mandelson is, they realise that it will only be a couple of weeks before he makes his next faux pas, and is banished again, he has made more come backs than the yo-yo.

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