Friday, November 20, 2009

Mandelson plots whim-based copyright legislation

Some really disturbing news from Boing Boing about what it claims Milord Mandelson is cooking up to drop into the Digital Economy Bill:

These changes will give the Secretary of State (Mandelson -- or his successor in the next government) the power to make "secondary legislation" (legislation that is passed without debate) to amend the provisions of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).

This is good news for any rich man who can offer Mandelson canapes on a yacht - no more pesky having to wait for parliament to do their bidding; he can have their new rules in place before the second glass of wine is poured.

There's more:
Mandelson is also gunning for sites like YouSendIt and other services that allow you to easily transfer large files back and forth privately[...]. Like Viacom, he's hoping to force them to turn off any feature that allows users to keep their uploads private, since privacy flags can be used to keep infringing files out of sight of copyright enforcers.

Well, yes. It also allows you to keep things that are private private. For legitimate reasons. Effectively, since YouSendIt is an FTP replacement, you could argue that Mandelson is arguing that anything online would have to be made open - who knows what's going on on behind those sign-in boxes, eh?

It's a ridiculous idea, which almost certainly wouldn't stand up to the passage of legislation in the Com... oh, hang on: under the new rules, it wouldn't have to.

As principles to fight for go 'British law shouldn't be made on David Geffen's yacht' is a pretty strong one.