UK Rightsholders Want Web Censorship; Don't Want The Public To Be A Part Of The Conversation

from the of-course-not dept

A whole bunch of you have been pointing to James Firth’s detailed post concerning some leaked information about a “private” meeting of rightsholders, ISPs and the government in the UK to discuss a “voluntary” web censorship system designed to block what copyright holders deem to be infringing.

“Confidential” documents sent to this blog show the Premier League has joined a coalition of rights holders including the Publishers Association, BPI, Motion Picture Association and others lobbying hard for a great copyright firewall of Britain.

The group is attempting to influence public policy with a desperate-sounding and confused in places confidential submission to minister for the internets Ed Vaizey, who discussed the proposal at a meeting of stakeholders (including ISPs) last Wednesday.

As Firth’s source notes, no matter where you stand on issues of copyright, the idea that policy decisions should be made behind closed doors without the public involved seems incredibly questionable, even if it’s quite common. We’ve seen the same thing in the US, where politicians seem to think that the public isn’t a stakeholder, and that the beneficiaries of a law are the only stakeholders. In this case, making matters even worse is that representatives from the Open Rights Group asked to attend the meeting and were denied. The government did allow a single “consumer rights” representative to attend, from a group called Consumer Focus. We’ve seen this before also. When the USTR was working on ACTA, it very briefly showed a couple of consumer rights groups a copy of a draft (which they weren’t allowed to copy, take notes on or do anything with) and then claimed that they were being fair in allowing all stakeholders access. Of course, they ignored that the copyright maximalists were helping in the actual drafting and had full copies of the documents. But… details.

As for the actual proposal under discussion: it would be a scheme under which ISPs would “swiftly” block access to certain sites rightsholders claimed were infringing, as reviewed by an “expert board.” However, the speed with which the censorship would take place suggests little actual review of the websites in question, because it even notes the desire to censor sites that may be streaming live events. Due process? That’s for peons, apparently. And while people will again insist that this sort of thing would only be used for obviously infringing sites, remember, it was just in the past few days that we noted that copyright holders were claiming that obviously non-infringing sites like, Vimeo and SoundCloud were pirate sites.

About the only good news to come out of this meeting is that the UK government apparently wasn’t too interested in being a part of this scheme, which is supposed to be “voluntary.”

If another contact of mine inside government is to be believed, Ed Vaizey is said to have commented, “if it’s a voluntary scheme, go and do it.” Heavily implying that the government need not be involved.

What’s really scary here, however, is how much is being done behind closed doors to create policies — whether “voluntary” or via the government — that massively impact everyone and their rights to free speech. No matter what your opinion on copyright enforcement, is it really so crazy to think that these discussions and proposals should be done out in the open to get all views heard?

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “UK Rightsholders Want Web Censorship; Don't Want The Public To Be A Part Of The Conversation”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Hephaestus (profile) says:

“What’s really scary here, however, is how much is being done behind closed doors to create policies”

It has to be done behind closed doors. An open government could never get away with this. It would require allowing the people affected to voice a different opinion, point out any flaws in what you are propossing, and decrease your chances of success.

Whats really interesting is what these IP maximalists don’t see. Eventually what they are doing will be implemented and exposed to public and legal scrutiny. The agenda they have seems to be about a dozen things, all going into effect at the same time, mid to end of 2012. At that time we will have 3 strikes, web site censorship, jail time for infringement, an indirect form of felony interference with a business model, secondary and tertiary liability, monitoring by ISPs, and a few other minor constitutional issues. All this will be directed at the internet generation. I wonder how this will actually work out for big content?

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

you know, the whole left/right thing is so horribly distorted as to be meaningless. in terms of the political compass i think if you break things up you’ll find a trend in the population to prefer being somewhere the middle.

what is being Massively rejected is the second major axis of political alignment: authoritarianism through… liber…. soemthing. i forget. the meanings of names shift around so much and there’s a number of similar ones. anyway. all the way right and down (where authoritarian is up) is anarchy. all the way left and up is Stalinist communism. the entire current US political spectrum is in the upper right. (Nazi germany is actually all the way authoritarian… but it’s not right. it’s centered.)

so, yeah. just because it’s the economic powers causing it doesn’t mean it’s an economic issue. this one’s a control issue. authoritarianism. THAT the internet as a whole rejects by it’s very nauture.

(interestingly, a dictatorship need not be massively authoritarian.)

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I think you might be refering to the Nolan Chart, which has four sides Libertarian, Authoritarian, Conservative, and Liberal.

All the internet is, is a communications system. Everyone who says the internet must be controlled is saying one very simple thing, communications and free speech must be controlled. Just 20 years ago communications was expensive, and there was no way to search for people with like interests, and that limited people. You were limited to the people around you physically, and your own social circle. The internet has removed those limitations.

The internet doesn’t reject authoritarianism or control. It does however allow people to walk to the other side of the internet and avoid it, or find some way around attempts at control and censorship.

Plus the internet has growing an immune system, Anonymous, Human Flesh Search Engines, the party of we. So in a way you are right the internet does Reject (immune system joke) control.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I understand the metaphor. There are however limits to how far you can push. In this case you have secondary issues combined with what big content (**AA’s) is doing all about to converge. Social media, fear derived from a poor world economy, and rules mean’t to oppress and intimidate haven’t work out very well in the recent past.

For the most part people haven’t heard of ACTA, HADOPI, PROTECT IP, ICE Domain seizures, etc. After they are implemented there will be a media blitz by big content to “educate” people by example. Much like the lawsuits against college students was used to “educate” people to the evils of infringement. In this case it will be felony perp walks of infringers, press releases, news stories, and the like. All of it increasing awareness, not of the new laws, but to the oppression of these laws.

We saw the reaction to this sort of action with the GeoHot Sony lawsuit, the Arab spring, and all the “party of we” events over the past several years. It is never what governments or corporations expect, and most often the exact opposite.

sam sin says:

obviously, the entertainment industries only want one point of view put forward. how can they get what they want, what they want the government to do for them, if both sides of the discussion where included? to actually refuse to have anyone in the meeting that was from ‘the other side of the argument’ shows me how desperate these industries are to achieve their goal. with the UK failing to admit that the DEA contravenes Human Rights and not signing a statement that it agrees with this and will not enforce 3 strikes, they have openly encouraged this to happen. the industry didn’t die when VCRs came out, even though they were termed as ‘the boston strangler’ of the movie industry and it wont be the end of it now. trouble is, even though they are fully aware of that fact, the industries use it as a reason to maintain control, whilst trying to keep from adapting to the technological age. i wonder what they will do when the internet is dead? what will they try to blame their decline on then? as for Vaizey, he ought to wake up and smell the coffee, thick fucker!

Richard (profile) says:

Pontius Pilate

If another contact of mine inside government is to be believed, Ed Vaizey is said to have commented, “if it’s a voluntary scheme, go and do it.” Heavily implying that the government need not be involved.

It looks to me as if Mr Vaizey is acting a bit like Pontius Pilate here

From Matthew Ch 27 v24

“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. “

TDR says:

Re: Re:

An atheist without a theist is just an “a,” as someone once said. How sad that you have to define yourself by what you are not. Also that your worldview offers no hope, no reason to make yourself better than you are. But I diverge.

Eventually, technology will win out over luddite politicians. Happens every time.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You quote fiction as a way of making your point?

Whether it is fiction or not is a matter of dispute. Pontius Pilate is certainly historical and the Gospel account is not inconsistent with his character as revealed by other sources.

You do not need to believe in anything supernatural to believe in the literal truth of the passage that I quoted and the new testament is by far the best preserved document from that historical period. If you don’t believe (the non-supernatural parts of) the new testament then you have no business believeing in any written history from before about 1000 AD.

Even if it is not historical that does not diminish its power as a story – I could have quoted Shakespeare – would you have made the same point?

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I repeat – the power of the metaphor does not depend on its literal truth.

If I were to say that preventing copyright infringement is a Sisyphean labour then the fact that Sisyphus never existed doesn’t invalidate the argument.

By closing you mind to everything that comes from a world view that you disagree with you can only impoverish yourself.

Andrew Wimble (profile) says:

What is really needed is a law that guarantees the rights of both internet users and content providers. At the moment my ISP can arbitrarily decide to block my access to a particular site, but depriving me of access to that site and depriving that site of a potential user. It is all very well saying that I am protected by competition and can always change ISP, but but how true is that when I am locked into a 12 month contract, and in any event Virgin media are the ONLY company that I have access to that can give me a reasonable speed thanks to a dodgy phone line. In any event virgin do not give me a list of what sites they block, so I do not even know how much of the internet access I am paying for I am actually being deprived of.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...