Archive for April, 2010

Response from Liam Logan(SDLP) re #deact #debill

Posted by on Tuesday, 27 April, 2010

I have received the below from Liam Logan about the Digital Economy Act:

Re the digital economy act, I thought it was an ill thought out piece of legislation, as most rushed things are but on a positive note, I happen to believe it to be virtually unworkable given the holes that have been left. I doubt if a parent could be held liable for the actions of a child using the home computer. 

Thus far that is Alliance & SDLP opposed to the act, I look forward to hearing from others soon.

Response received from MLA re #deact #debill

Posted by on Tuesday, 27 April, 2010

I have received the below response from one of my MLAs Alex Easton with reference to my email yesterday. A good start.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Easton, Alex <EMAIL REMOVED>
Date: 27 April 2010 09:55
Subject: RE: Letter from your constituent Simon Whittaker
To: Simon Whittaker <EMAIL REMOVED>

Dear Simon,

Thank you for your email I will look into the issue with my colleagues
and consider your points.

Yours truly,
Alex Easton MLA

Alliance Party & the #deact #debill

Posted by on Monday, 26 April, 2010

I have received an email from Stephen Farry at the Alliance Party responding to my question about the #debill. He sent me the following information from their manifesto which is being launched tomorrow(Monday 26th April 2010):

Alliance will vote to repeal the Digital Economy Bill and replace it with better legislation. The issues raised by the Bill must be addressed, but the legislation passed in parliament is deeply flawed. The Bill has far reaching implications for fair internet access, privacy rights on the internet and the future of analogue broadcasting. These need detailed discussion in parliamentary committee and with the general public. It was inappropriate to force such a complex piece of legislation through in the last minute ‘wash-up’ process without proper debate.

Am very glad to see a party taking such an interest in this flawed legislation, I would hope that others would follow suit.

I have written to my MLA’s about the #deact #debill to suggest Assembly condemnation

Posted by on Monday, 26 April, 2010

I sent the below email to all of my MLA's to suggest a motion which would condemn the pushing through of the Digital Economy Act at washup. While this will simply be a statement it would at least highlight the issue.

Dear Brian Wilson, Alex Easton, Stephen Farry, Alan McFarland, Peter
Weir and Leslie Cree,

I am writing to you today to discuss the Digital Economy Act which has
recently passed through Westminster. If you are unaware of the issues
that this raises for companies and people throughout Northern Ireland
there is an excellent resource available on the open rights group
website as well as on the 38degrees blog. I have also made some
comments about this act on my blog, all links are listed below.

I realise that while this is not a part of legislation that the
Assembly are able to repeal I believe that action can be taken which
would enable us to at least have a say. My suggestion would be that the
NI Assembly could put a motion forwards which will condemn the
undemocratic pushing through of this important piece of legislation
which could have such a fundamental change in how we all interact and
use the internet.  I would be very happy to arrange a meeting at your
offices at a convenient time to discuss the Digital Economy Act and
it's ramifications on all of us with you in greater detail if this
would be of use.

Yours sincerely,

Ofcom & the Digital Economy Act #deact #debill #naughtylist

Posted by on Friday, 23 April, 2010

I read an interesting blog post this morning by Trefor Davies which highlighted some further important questions about the Digital Economy Act including the speed with which the code is being brought in and the lack of consultation. The site listed a phone number to call (0300 123 3000 or 020 7981 3000) and to ask for Ed Richards, the Chief Executive. Unfortunately they aren't allowed to put calls through to Mr Richards so I was put through to a very knowledgeable gentleman called Campbell Cowie who I believe is helping to formulate the code which the act calls for. It was a very useful conversation, he explained that they were putting through the act as stipulated which required them to have a code in place by January 2011 and they had started work on this code very quickly. In fact, the meeting request for the first consultation went out the day after Royal Assent and the first meeting took place just one week later. They were ready to go from the start and anxious to met the demands that the Act requires, how different from the normal public impression of quangos and public bodies….

Mr Cowie informed me that consumer groups, ISPs and rights holder had all been contacted to be part of the consultation but that many of the smaller ones had been unable to make it, maybe something to do with the quick turnaround time between assent, meeting request & meeting taking place!!! The plan is to have a draft code in place by mid-may which will then be further consulted on. I have a couple of questions which remain unanswered.
  1. Why are the government pushing for such a quick implementation of a code like this?
  2. Why are all consultations in London? Surely there are ISPs based in other parts of the country?
  If you would like to be a part of the consultation then I believe the correct email address is [email protected] – I will be emailing and asking for them to come and meet with the people concerned in my part of the world, maybe you could as well?

Before finishing the call, Mr Cowie and I discussed a few of the measures which will be taken by the Rights holder under the new code which slightly differed from my understanding of the bill:
  1. To clarify, there are no technical measures yet, this is anticipated to be brought in at the behest of the secretary of state at this time. Any tech measures will require a new code and secondary legislation to be voted on by the house. We still have the chance to stop this, email your candidates now and get some assurances. When they get in power keep raising the matter with them and make sure that they know we're not going away.
  2. In the meantime, the code will say that:
  • if you accused of infringing copyright the rights holder will go to court and get authorisation for your ISP to release your name and address
  • You will receive a letter which will highlight what you are alleged to have been doing and when.
  • If you are accused of infringing copyright a certain number of times(this hasn't been decided upon as yet) then you will be placed on a list(Lets call it the naughty list). 
  • The naughty list can be requested by a rights holder so they can see information about you and then take further court action should they want to.
  • Ofcom will keep a record of the infringements and undertake independent monitoring to try and obtain figures about money lost to illegal filesharing. I will be very interested to see how independent these figures are and how they compare to the BPI figures rubbished so brilliantly by Dr Ben Goldacre. This monitoring will also highlight the entertainment industry efforts to provide legal downloads for us.
  • To sum up, in my view, this is a poorly thought out law being implemented in record time with consultation times in the weeks rather than months which it deserves. The "naughty list" will help to pave the way for the disconnection that will inevitably come in 2012 and will assist large corporations to maintain the status quo and ultimately control how we consume media to an even greater level.

    More #drm #debill #deact nonsense AKA “What would reacher do”

    Posted by on Wednesday, 14 April, 2010

    I know they're quite low brow and predictable and generally the same story every time but I genuinely love the jack reacher books by lee child. I've got the full collection at home from the one where the jobless, homeless reacher falls into the middle of a bad situation, meets a beautiful girl affected by the situation, cracks some heads and then goes back on the road like the littlest hobo all the way through to the one where the jobless, homeless…(you get the idea).
    Lee Child now has a new book out now called 61 hours which I have been looking forward to for ages and finally got round to thinking about buying it last night. I love reading on the train and in bed, both places which do not really suit a large, hard backed book so wanted to get the ebook to read on my htc hero. First stop, waterstones – hmmm £12,99 that seems a bit steep considering the physical book is only £9.89 and there is no requirement to actually print or physically distribute it but I'm game. Add to basket and then decide to check the format of the ebook, epub – excellent! epub with drm – doh!!! OK, how about other e-book publishers – for instance? Nope, all drm'd to the hilt and require a certain combination of operating systems and hardware. Their formats page explains a bit more. There are also geographic restrictions with a lot of providers which is just depressing. . Unfortunately this means I am not able to read this on my android phone as I have been unable to find an ebook reader with drm support and would not be too happy about limiting my purchase to one device anyway. Are there options for those of us in this situation? Answers on a postcard, via comments below or to @szlwzl. This leaves me with a couple of options:

    1. Wait for amazon to ship me the book and then lug the hardback to and from work on the train in my already heavy laptop bag
    2. Fire up my old iphone and buy it using stanza or a.n.other ebook reader and therefore carry yet another piece of technology.
    3. Buy the physical book and then download a non-drm'd book from "elsewhere"
    The best option would of course be able to buy the book in a format I can read when and where I would like but it seems this isn't available to me 🙁 

    The problem is that by doing option 3 I will be breaking the law and under the new Digital Economy Act I could be subject to having my internet connection disconnected as well as face a potential fine and a criminal record despite having bought the book!!! For me, this highlights the problem with DRM and the Digital Economy Act – lots of us are willing to pay for our downloads but need the flexibility to enjoy the products. We would be declared guilty without a proper trial and have to prove our innocence, this goes against everything our justice system is supposed to stand for.

    If we move on to other situations such as downloading TV shows – I pay for Virgin V+ HD(XL package) and I pay my license fee but would love to be able to watch the shows in my own time, on my laptop or streamed around the house using my XBMC installation. If I download them, I am considered a "pirate"(ARRR!!!!) and could once again face disconnection and a criminal record. The itunes store is impressive but doesn't consider those of us who use "alternative" operating systems like ubuntu and requires a tie-in to apple and to the iproducts, something which some of us aren't prepared to do.

    Does every download equal a lost sale? No. The figures quoted by the BPI etc for sales lost to illegal downloads were shown to be false and over-inflated and do not, I'm sure, include situations like the above where actual money has changed hands. 

    What would Reacher do? Probably kick some corporate BPI ass, fall in and out of love with the beautiful lawyer/policewoman/distressed lady and then get on the last bus out of town with only the items in his pockets and a desire to see the world. 
    What would szlwzl do? I've already fallen in love with the beautiful Arts Manager and am not planning on skipping town anytime soon so all I can do is continue to campaign to my MP(when elected) and all the candidates about this issue and hope that somewhere along the line the corporations wake up to what we as consumers are asking for. We shall see.