If ever we needed absolute unarguable proof that we must
- support Iceland’s attempt to provide a safe haven for investigative journalists
- support WikiLeaks
- stop the headlong descent into government control of the internet
it is this. John Young’s Cryptome has been taken down by a crass misuse of US copyright laws despite the American constitutional right to freedom of speech.
The villains? The US Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Microsoft.
The crime? Cryptome published a copy of a Microsoft document entitled
Microsoft(R) Online Services
Global Criminal Compliance Handbook
Microsoft Confidential For Law Enforcement Use Only
I have a few Urban Heroes. John Young/Cryptome is one. The EFF is another. I hope that the latter can come to the aid of the former.
Meanwhile, have no doubt that the UK’s Digital Economy Bill is our DMCA. Like the DMCA it pretends to use the protection of intellectual property as its raison d’etre. But its real purpose is to hand control of the internet in the UK to the UK government. And that is what will happen if it comes into force.
Consider this Microsoft document. It is a secret document that someone somewhere, quite rightly in my mind, considered that in the public interest it should be public. Microsoft (and obviously Law Enforcement, but it’s not their property) objected. So they used the law ostensibly designed to protect against the theft of intellectual property to shut down a whole website. But where is the theft? We’re talking about property. Where is the loss? If there is no loss, how can there be a theft?
This is a blatant misuse of the purpose of copyright. It is used as a means of censorship, to give the authorities the ability to censor what they don’t like on the internet. And this is what Mandelson is bringing to the UK in the Digital Economy Bill. He and it must be stopped while we still have some semblance of democracy left in this country.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) used to accept a statement from an IP owner that goods infringed copyright at a UK border, and would then automatically seize those goods. It required no proof and no court process.
Last summer this policy was ruled to be incompatible with EU law. A new Statutory Instrument consequently comes into effect on 10 March revoking the old HMRC rules and bringing in new ones. But the really interesting bit is the letter that HMRC sent out to businesses last year following the EU ruling. It said
“We now accept that the burden of proof should be upon the rights holder who must confirm the infringing nature of the goods by taking legal proceedings…”
If legal proceedings are good enough for HMRC, why are they effectively (not, I agree, literally, but certainly effectively, Mr – sorry, Lord – Mandelson) not good enough for the Digital Economy Bill?
I think I’ve sussed it. We know little of the details of the ACTA negotiations. But it is fairly common knowledge that Rights Holders are demanding the equivalent of a three strikes rule, and they do not want to be hampered by the need for court proceedings. But at the same time, a repeated claim coming from government negotiators is that any ACTA treaty will not impose new requirements on or alterations to existing national law.
There is now a new leaked document that claims to be part of the ACTA negotiations, and is believed by many to be genuine. The heading is “Article 2.17: Enforcement procedures in the digital environment”, and the first paragraph reads:
Each Party shall ensure that enforcement procedures, to the extent set forth in the civil and criminal enforcement sections of this Agreement, are available under its law so as to permit effective action against an act of, trademark, copyright or related rights infringement which takes place by means of the Internet, including expeditious remedies to prevent infringement and remedies which constitute a deterrent to further infringement.
Look at that again. Each party shall ensure that the enforcement sections of this agreement are available under their national law. In other words, ACTA is saying what our national laws should be. Not Parliament, which is specifically being kept ignorant of the ACTA negotiations.
Jump now to section 3 (b) (I)
an online service provider adopting and reasonably implementing a policy(6) to address the unauthorised storage or transmission of materials protected by copyright or related rights except that no Party may condition the limitations in subparagraph (a) on the online service provider’s monitoring its services or affirmatively seeking facts indicating that infringing activity is occurring; …
The important bit is note (6) which states: “An example of such a policy is providing for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscriptions and accounts in the service provider’s system or network of repeat infringers.”
We don’t have that in our national law. Well, not until Mandelson gets his Digital Economy Bill on the books. It’s why he’s clinging on to the three strikes proposal – although in fairness he has altered the words ‘termination’ to ‘temporary suspension’ for a period that he will determine in each case without parliamentary discussion; ie, termination. Only when the Digital Economy Bill becomes an Act will he be able to sign off ACTA.
So here’s an open letter to all our UK Members of Parliament: “Are you really such total wusses that you will let an unelected manufactured Lord allow largely foreign interests to dictate UK law without any reference to you or the electorate? Shame on you!“
I got this Skype message from someone I don’t know. That means I’m going to ignore it.
It’s trying to sell me something I didn’t ask for. It could be genuine marketing, but it probably means it’s spam. So ignore it.
It’s offering me cheap OEM software. Statistically, that means it’s likely to be pirated. Block it.
The visible link is not identical to the link that appears when copied into a text editor. That would suggest it will take you to an evil site. Report it.
If you get a message like this, ignore it, block it, report it. If you have any doubt that it might possibly be a genuine message from genuine people, just ignore it and block it.
And am I paranoid? I do hope so. It’s the best security device I’ve got.