Not So Liberal Democrat peers have proposed a new clause for the Digital Economy Bill that sets the ball rolling for state internet filtering:
Lord Razzall and Lord Clement-Jones have proposed the following new clause
Preventing access to specified online locations
In Part 1 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, after section 97A insert—
97B Preventing access to specified online locations
(1) The High Court (in Scotland, the Court of Session) shall have power to grant an injunction against a service provider, requiring it to prevent access to online locations specified in the order of the Court.
(2) In determining whether to grant an injunction under subsection (1), the Court shall have regard to the following matters—
(a) whether a substantial proportion of the content accessible at or via each specified online location infringes copyright,
(b) the extent to which the operator of each specified online location has taken reasonable steps to prevent copyright infringing content being accessed at or via that online location or taken reasonable steps to remove copyright infringing content from that online location (or both),
(c) whether the service provider has itself taken reasonable steps to prevent access to the specified online location, and
(d) any other matters which appear to the Court to be relevant.
(3) An application for an injunction under subsection (1) shall be made on notice to the service provider and to the operator of each specified online location in relation to which an injunction is sought.
(a) the Court grants an injunction under subsection (1) upon the application of an owner of copyright whose copyright is infringed by the content accessible at or via each specified online location in the injunction, and
(b) the owner of copyright before making the application made a written request to the service provider giving it a reasonable period of time to take measures to prevent its service being used to access the specified online location in the injunction, and no steps were taken, the Court shall order the service provider to pay the copyright owner’s costs of the application unless there were exceptional circumstances justifying the service provider’s failure to prevent access despite notification by the copyright owner.
(5) In this section—
copyright owner includes a licensee with an exclusive licence within the meaning of section 92 of this Act,
infringing content means content which is produced or made available in infringement of copyright,
online location means a location on the internet, a mobile data network or other data network at or via which copyright infringing content is accessible,
operator means a person or persons in joint or sole control of the decisions to make content accessible at or via an online location, and
service provider has the meaning given to it by section 97A(3) of this Act.
Update: Shared Interests
5th March 2010.
Lord Clement-Jones one of the proposers of the new clause became the talk of the internet when it was noticed that he receives significant money from a law firm standing to gain from measures in the Digital Economy Bill
See Register of Interests from publications.parliament.uk
Partner of DLA Piper (international law firm) and adviser to its global government relations practice.
The member is paid £70,000 in respect of his services as Co-Chairman of DLA Piper’s global government relations practice
Update: Shared Interests
5th March 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk
One of the most contentious parts of the controversial digital economy bill was voted down by the House of Lords last night – only to be replaced by a clause that campaigners say is even more draconian.
The Liberal Democrats forced through a surprise amendment to the bill’s notorious clause 17 on Wednesday – in a move that dealt a defeat to the government but troubled critics, who suggest it will have the opposite effect that its creators intend.
Instead of sweeping new powers that threatened sweeping alterations to British copyright law, the Lib Dems added a clause that gives extra oversight to the high court.
The new proposal – which was passed in the House of Lords by 165 votes to 140 – gives a high court judge the right to issue an injunction against a website accused of hosting a substantial amount of copyright infringing material, potentially forcing the entire site offline.
Putting forward the amendment, Lib Dem peer Lord Clement-Jones said that it would placate concerns over the so-called three strikes rule – which could see those accused of sharing files illegally online having their internet connections cut off – and added that it was a more proportionate, specific and appropriate way to approach infringement than the previous proposals made by the government.
But instead of making the proposed system more transparent and accountable, critics say it will simply leave it open to abuse.
This would open the door to a massive imbalance of power in favour of large copyright holding companies, said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group. Individuals and small businesses would be open to massive ‘copyright attacks’ that could shut them down, just by the threat of action. This is exactly how libel law works today: suppressing free speech by the unwarranted threat of legal action. The expense and the threat are enough to create a ‘chilling effect’.
In particular, there are concerns that the amendment could follow in the footsteps of America’s controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has been accused of encouraging companies to file bogus copyright claims to block material they dislike.
The high costs and dangers of dealing with copyright claims in court mean that many web hosts simply take down the material in question without checking whether the copyright case is legitimate – even going as far as shutting down entire websites in some cases.
The new amendment could also have dire implications for websites like YouTube, where users can upload copyright-infringing material without the knowledge of the site’s owners.