My latest Guardian column, "Lib Dems get a chance to vote on copyright reform," discusses the new Liberal Democrat IT white paper that's being presented at the party conference this weekend, where members will get the chance to vote in favor of repealing some of the worst sections of the Digital Economy Act, dealing with web-censorship and disconnection over copyright claims. The paper is very good, but somewhere between the final draft prepared by the committee and the paper the membership will vote on this weekend, someone inserted a clause saying that downloading is "a form of theft" and goes on to say that "there is no reason why digital offenders should not be prosecuted under the criminal law in the same way as those who steal tangible goods." I've spent the past few days trying to track down who put this language in, and everyone both denies it and says they don't support it -- which raises the question, what's it doing there at all?
This is pretty outre stuff. Every developed nation's legal system treats thefts of tangible goods as absolutely distinct from copyright violation. Applying criminal sanctions for copyright infringement would be unprecedented in the industrialised world.
Don Foster, the Lib Dem MP with the DCMS brief, apparently lobbied to have "a statement making clear that copyright infringement is as serious as theft" included in the document, though his staff disavows any involvement in the phrasing and says: "For Don, non-commercial copyright infringement has only ever been a civil issue." Julian Huppert, the Lib Dem MP who was also involved in the drafting, says, "there is no intention to change the current system in this regard".
Lib Dems get a chance to vote on copyright reform
Alex from Copy Me (previously) writes, "Copying is one of the most essential steps to creativity. And if we don’t understand how it works, copyright can easily become detrimental to the very creativity we want to protect. Copy-Me's got a new video about how even the great geniuses copied others and how this practice goes […]
Chris Knight recorded a video of the bees in his backyard and wanted to accompany it with a rendition of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's 1899 composition "The Flight of the Bumblebee."
3D printing is a dumpster fire of stupid, obvious patents, but thankfully many of these are expiring; this year, the stupid patent on putting sides on a 3D printer (extrusion printers are very sensitive to errant breezes and just a puff of wind can ruin a print that took hours, just minutes before it completes).
You might know someone who can make a pipe out of any conceivable household object. But if they’re doing it every time they smoke, it might be time to get them a little Christmas present. And we’ve got just the thing: The Twisty™️ Glass Original Combo Pack, priced way, way down for December. If you’ve […]
With all the revolutionary tech that’s out there, it’s pretty sad that finding a simple stud in your wall can feel like dowsing for water. This can be equally true whether you’re using a magnetic finder and it’s reliance on “feel,” or an electronic unit that can give fuzzy readings (especially when the batteries are […]
Do you have any Star Wars fans on your list? Given the reach and output of its new corporate masters these days, it might be easier to ask if there’s anyone out there who isn’t a Star Wars fan. So let’s narrow it down further: Do you know a Star Wars fan who likes to […]