Friday, February 26, 2010

The Analogue Economy (Preservation) Bill

There is one piece of good news about the Digital Economy Bill being considered by the House of Lords. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties are to block clause 17, the constitutional outrage that would have allowed the government to rewrite copyright law through poorly-scrutinised statutory instruments whenever they chose.

Clauses 10–16 of the Bill remain a disaster. As Jerry Fishenden says:
"The Bill claims to be about protecting copyright and intellectual property in the digital age. But in reality it seems to be more about preserving the dying business model of middle-men publishers, be they the music, film or publishing industries. There is little recognition of the need to protect the interests of those who actually create and make a living from original content, of moving to new ways of encouraging and nurturing innovation. We need to expedite the natural disintermediation of these stale old business models, not to bankroll them through ill-designed legislation.

"One thing is for sure. The Digital Economy Bill is going to become a textbook case of flawed legislation and the extent to which policymaking is damagingly behind the reality of the world in which we live. My concern, however, in the meantime, is that it will do enormous damage to the economic and social fabric of the UK at the very time when we need to be taking advantage of the Internet, not trying to shut it down."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Amnesia, obfuscation and hush money

The Commons' Culture, Media and Sport Committee has come to some devastating conclusions about News International's phone-hacking activities:
493… This inquiry has subsequently revealed more facts, including the pay-offs made to Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire and that they tapped the phones of the princes themselves. They also highlighted the fact that a culture undoubtedly did exist in the newsroom of News of the World and other newspapers at the time which at best turned a blind eye to illegal activities such as phone-hacking and blagging and at worst actively condoned it. We condemn this without reservation and believe that it has done substantial damage to the newspaper industry as a whole…

495. In seeking to discover precisely who knew what among the staff of the News of the World we have questioned a number of present and former executives of News International. Throughout we have repeatedly encountered an unwillingness to provide the detailed information that we sought, claims of ignorance or lack of recall, and deliberate obfuscation. We strongly condemn this behaviour which reinforces the widely held impression that the press generally regard themselves as unaccountable and that News International in particular has sought to conceal the truth about what really occurred.

There are also some juicy-looking morsels on privacy and libel law, which I will digest later.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mark Thomas on Digital Economy Bill

Includes interviews with Billy Bragg, Feargal Sharkey, Cory Doctorow and Jim Killock: