THE OPEN RIGHTS GROUP (ORG) is concerned about the Digital Economy Bill and is warning that it could be used to shake down grandmothers and put the fear of thousands of pounds worth of fines and an ongoing diet of porridge into them.
The ORG isn't taking the Digital Economy Act lightly and is opposing it like a sandbag does a leaked sewage. The group's campaign to educate the government about the dangers of pornography filtering is a good one, and it has taken the government to court repeatedly over the bill and its taste for snooping in general.
Now it is taking on the issue of copyright and cartel capitulation. It feels that the government has given the copyright cartels a Valentine's present in the Digital Economy business, and is putting punters in a perilous position.
"Ten years jail for filesharing: or in fact any minor copyright infringement where there is a 'loss by not getting what one might get' or cause a 'risk' of further infringement," it says in its alert klaxon blog post.
"Clause 27 of the Digital Economy Bill will mean that more or less any wrongful use where somebody hasn't paid a licence fee (think of memes) is a crime. Causing 'risk' to the copyright holder means almost by definition ordinary file sharing is a criminal rather than civil infringement."
Alarming stuff. Now read it again while picturing your nan, banged up for almost a decade with pickpockets, shoplifters, and ticket touts, eating nothing but three meals a day and having guaranteed heat and electricity through the winter. Actually, it doesn't sound too bad put that way.
It could also apply to teenagers. Under these circumstances, it could damage career prospects and hamper YOLO plans. The ORG is very unimpressed with the government and it reckons that it has capitulated to a load of blowhards who like to make threats but lack the balls to actually follow them up.
"Why has the Digital Economy Bill been left with such a stupid legal change? Both the government and the Intellectual Property Office said they just wanted to bring online infringement into line with 'real world' fake DVD offences. They were worried about the difficulties with charging people who run websites that help people download copyright works," it railed.
"However, that isn't how the offence is drawn up: and the government has now been told in Parliament twice that they are both criminalising minor infringements and helping copyright trolls.
"Copyright trolls, we should remember, specialise in threats concerning file sharing of niche pornographic works in order to frighten and embarrass people into payment, often incorrectly, and to our knowledge, have never taken anyone to court in the UK."
True say. These outfits do tend to come across like shakedown merchants, and we have covered the workings of one called Goldeneye before. Goldeneye is not only tainted for being the first of the James Bond movies to have Pierce Brosnan in them, it has also been roundly criticised for its copyright protection actions.
Enough of them, though, back to the ORG. We find the organisation looking on agog as the government fails to make sense of or even provide answers about what this all means, and how it will all work out. It doesn't use the phrase, but we get the impression that as far as it is concerned the whole Digital Economy bill business is a massive and total fuck up, and would be best off being put to sleep.
It has however, created an amendment that would make the Bill less totally ridiculous. Good luck with that.
"The problem is really easily fixed. The government simply need to put in thresholds to ensure that only significant damage or serious risk is caused. We have an amendment prepared and published," it added.
"Why does the government want to help copyright trolls bully grannies and criminalise file sharers whose actions may be idiotic, but hardly criminal? The government needs to fix this before it becomes law and abuse of copyright ensues." µ
We should be shocked, but...
But the search giant has now squashed the bug
But it's not yet available here in Blighty