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Archive for March 19th, 2010

Massive Protest Against UK Anti-Piracy Bill | TorrentFreak

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Massive Protest Against UK Anti-Piracy Bill | TorrentFreak: “Massive Protest Against UK Anti-Piracy Bill
Written by enigmax on March 19, 2010

As Feargal Sharkey, head of UK Music, speaks of his confidence that the massively controversial Digital Economy Bill will be passed before the general election, the Open Rights Group has revealed that in the last 3 days more than 10,000 outraged citizens have written to MPs demanding a debate on the issue.

The UK Government continues to push forward the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) that aims to protect copyright holders from online pirates. On 15th March the House of Lords approved the bill and handed it over to the House of Commons.

To the absolute dismay of most outside the music and movie industries, some of the most controversial elements of the Bill are unlikely to receive any major scrutiny and will be dealt with quickly under the so-called ‘wash-up’, a short period between the announcement of an election and parliament being closed down.

‘It’s a deeply unsatisfactory and very worrying development,’ a senior executive from an ISP told The Guardian. ‘The fear is that no one will know what is being cooked-up before it becomes law. It’s legislation on the hoof.’

But this situation suits the BPI just fine. This week a leaked memo from the BPI fell into the hands of Cory Doctorow which showed that the ‘LibDem amendment’ – a proposal under the DEB which would allow for websites to be blocked if, essentially, the BPI didn’t like their activities – was in fact written by the BPI. Very cosy.

But the controversies don’t end there. Doctorow also received an internal document prepared by the BPI’s Director of Public Affairs and prospective Labour parliamentary candidate, Richard Mollet. In the document he admitted that the only reason the DEB had a chance of passing is because MP’s are resigned to voting on it without debate.

‘Translation: if MPs got to debate the Bill, they would tear it to unrecognizable pieces as they realized what terrible rubbish it really is,’ wrote Doctorow. The scandals go on and on, but we have to stop somewhere.

Nevertheless, UK Music head Feargal Sharkey says that he is confident that the DEB will be passed before the general election, although others are not so sure.

‘It will still be nip and tuck to get the Digital Economy Bill onto the statute book before the election so the battle is not won yet,’ wrote Shadow Culture Minister, Jeremy Hunt, on his blog this week.

According to Jim Killock at the Open Rights Group, UK citizens aren’t leaving anything to chance with 10,000 of them having written to their MPs in the last three days to demand a debate on the Digital Economy Bill.

‘It is outrageous for corporate lobbyists including the BPI, FAST and UK Music to demand that MPs curtail democracy and ram this Bill through Parliament without debate,’ says Killock, adding: ‘The British people did not elect UK Music and the BPI to write our laws.’

Killock says that what is making the 10,000 so angry is the pushing through of the DEB without debate, an act he describes as ‘undemocratic and dangerous’.

If you’d like to add your dissenting voice, please email your MP, write to your local newspaper, and attend the planned demonstrations”

Court Says Parents Can Block ‘Sexting’ Cases –

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Court Says Parents Can Block ‘Sexting’ Cases –

By TAMAR LEWIN, Published: March 17, 2010

In the first federal appeals court opinion dealing with ‘sexting’ — the transmission of sexually explicit photographs by cellphone — a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled Wednesday that parents could block the prosecution of their children on child pornography charges for appearing in photographs found on some classmates’ cellphones.

‘It does not resolve all of the constitutional issues implicated in sexting prosecutions, but it’s a terrific start for civil liberties,’ said Witold Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, who represented the parents.

The case, Miller v. Mitchell, began in 2008 when school officials in Tunkhannock, Pa., discovered seminude and nude photographs of some female students — some as young as 12 or 13 when the photographs were taken — on other students’ cellphones. The officials confiscated the phones and turned them over to the Wyoming County District Attorney’s Office.

The district attorney at the time, George Skumanick Jr., said that students possessing ‘inappropriate images of minors’ could be prosecuted for possession or distribution of child pornography, and sent letters to the parents of the students with the phones — and the parents of students who appeared in the photographs — threatening to prosecute any student who did not participate in an after-school ‘education program.’

The syllabus called for the girls to write a report explaining why they were there, what they had done, and why it was wrong.

‘Participation in the program is voluntary,’ the letter said. ‘Please note, however, charges will be filed against those that do not participate or those that do not successfully complete the program.’

Three families whose daughters were in the photographs refused to participate and instead filed suit to block the charges, which they said would amount to retaliation for that refusal. They said the district attorney’s actions interfered with the girls’ constitutional rights to be photographed and to be free from compelled speech — and with the parents’ rights to direct their children’s upbringing.

In March, the district court temporarily barred the district attorney from initiating any criminal charges against the girls. Wednesday’s opinion came in response to his appeal and upholds the injunction but does not resolve the case.

The unanimous ruling of the judges, Thomas L. Ambro, Michael A. Chagares and Walter K. Stapleton, criticized the district attorney’s reliance on the girls’ presence in the photographs as a basis for the potential charges.

‘Appearing in a photograph provides no evidence as to whether that person possessed or transmitted the photo,’ said the opinion, by Judge Ambro.