UK government kills Copyright Great Firewall, establishes user rights

The UK government has abandoned its plan to establish a copyright-based national firewall that media executives could use to block websites to which they objected. The proposal for a UK Great Firewall was part of the Digital Economy Act, but the expert reviews conducted by Professor Ian Hargreaves and the regulator Ofcom both advised against it. UK Business Secretary Vince Cable has, therefore, nixed the idea, which means that entertainment companies will actually have to win court injunctions ordering ISPs to block sites -- still scary, but at least there's some due process there.

Meanwhile Cable has also announced that the government will include a parody copyright exemption in our fair dealing laws (until now, it's been illegal to reproduce copyrighted works for parodical purpose), a relaxing of the rules on format-shifting, and a rights clearninghouse to make it easier to license works for lawful use. A rare moment of common sense in UK copyright policy!

UK Government Abandons File-Sharing Website Blocking Plans


  1. You still can’t broadcast video of parliament for comedic or satirical purposes in uk :( 

  2. Is it too much of a stretch to conclude that media baron WhatsHisFace’s fall from grace has anything to do with the softening of this act?

    1. I’m seeing Peter Mandelson summoned before the executive board of SPECTRE, standing next to James Murdoch, with Rosa Kleb behind both of them.

      Who does she kick?

  3. Good news. And, yes, Vince mostly got into trouble in the first place for saying he was out for Murdoch’s head – long before it was so fashionable to say so. Cory, it must feel good to be able to say “we” in reference to things-UK. I hope to be able to do the same in 2 years and 2 months!

  4. My Inner-Cynic wants to point out how small a thing this is in the long run. However due to the fact this is POSITIVE and SANE action taken by people I’ve dismissed as worthless cranks….


  5. I’m not as positive about this.  The only reason that the web blocking proposal has been dropped is because it won’t work, not because it is objectionable in principle, so I’m expecting something even worse to be proposed in due course.

    We’ve also got the announcement that the three-strike proposal has been amended so that, in order to reduce the possibility of “vexatious appeals,” anybody who wishes to appeal against a penalty imposed as a result of an accusation by the copyright industries, will have to pay £20 up front for the privilege.  No word, of course, on any enhanced penalty for vexatious accusations.

    All in all, this just feels like some bad news hidden behind some nice sounding, but, in the main, irrelevant, good news.

    1. “The only reason that the web blocking proposal has been dropped is because it won’t work.”

      Fortunately, this is true of every web blocking proposal, so if this is the litmus test they’re using, we don’t have to worry.

  6. sorry to be a cynic – but hasn’t vince im-a-two-faced lier said stuff
    like this in the past, only to do the opposite and much worse. Tuition
    fee’s being one example (going from abolishing to agreeing a 9k cap for
    uk and god knows for foreign students), but lots of others too since the
    coalition. So this report says to me I should buy a nice VPS server
    somewhere outside of the UK….


    1. Especially given Cable’s track record of extreme nastiness on these kind of issues.  He introduced a bill into the Commons which raised the maximum penalty for criminal copyright infringement from 2 years to 10 years and he also supported the completely insane idea of criminalising patent infringement.

  7. Ok, the clearing house thing.  Look back in the days of yor (1999 or so) you could buy “music tapes” and “music CDs”.  It wasn’t that the media was any better quality than the much cheaper stuff but it had a fee attached that, supposedly, covered you for (C) infringement.  I’ve no idea if they did “video DVDs”.  So there is already a grudging acceptance that people will be naughty and you might as well offer them some way of ‘going legit’.

    So how much?  How much extra on my ISP bill so I can rock up to my all-you-can-eat buffet of choice and gorge myself until my drives explode like Mr. Creasoat and you can DIAF?  £5?  £10?  We’ve already ascertained it’s about the money so all we need to do is haggle over a blanket license.

  8. Oh I can finally legally rip my CDs in iTunes now. Has iTunes turned it on in the UK now, as it was illegal before and surely this feature wasn’t there?

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