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UK Reviewing Copyright Laws 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-another-look dept.
Uebergeek writes "It looks like the UK is going to be reviewing its copyright laws. Prime Minister David Cameron specifically cites the US's Fair Use doctrine as something they wish to incorporate into their own laws... apparently they wish to 'encourage the sort of creative innovation that occurs in America.' One can only assume that they've been missing the continual assault on the Fair Use doctrine here in the States."
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UK Reviewing Copyright Laws

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  • Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Count Fenring (669457) on Monday November 08, 2010 @01:46AM (#34159294) Homepage Journal

    One can only assume that they've been missing the continual assault on the Fair Use doctrine here in the States.

    Well, I guess that they might see the value in the law as written, even if that doesn't tend to be how the law plays out.

  • Better idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @01:56AM (#34159332)

    Copy Canadian laws instead of American ones.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by transfatfree (1920462)

      I'd second that. Though aspects of Canada's laws are 'slightly' outdated. For example the tariff on cd's - i seldom use cd's for much other than burning a copy of a linux distro.

      Canada's on the right track though.

      Now, if they put the tariff on ipods/mp3 players/media enabled phones it might work better with the times. People wont appreciate the cost though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by turkeyfish (950384)

        No perhaps they won't like it, but at least the extra cost might offset the additional expenses associated with police investigations of auto accidents caused by drivers using such devices while they are behind the wheel.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nemyst (1383049)
      Before bills C-32, C-61 or C-60.
  • Deferred optimism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FalconZero (607567) <FalconZero AT Gmail DOT com> on Monday November 08, 2010 @02:00AM (#34159336)
    While I wholeheartedly welcome the opportunity to improve some of the frankly stupid laws floating around at the moment, the pessimist in me wonders how this will be twisted by lobbying into some ridiculous new round of laws. I'm going to wait six months before I celebrate this.
    • Stay ahead of the curve.

      Push back hard against the lawmakers and monopolists. Show them, again and again, the futility and folly of trying to steal from the public. The lawmakers must be constantly reminded that the law has limited reach. Push too hard, and it breaks down. Pass enough stupid, unenforceable laws, and except for the "rules is rules", "law and order" moralizing "goody two shoes" sorts, people will ignore them. Even they will see the light if the laws are bad enough. The lawmakers could

  • yes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Monday November 08, 2010 @02:01AM (#34159348) Homepage Journal

    Finally, UK TV might dump all those brain-dead quiz shows where people "know things" and that David Attaboy or whatever and his animal sex preoccupation and move towards more proper explosion-based documentaries like we have in the US.

    And the news? Good grief - I watched UK news and the whole time it was just people talking about facts and things. There wasn't a SINGLE ARGUMENT or fight during the entire show. What the hell kind of news reporting is that?

    • Perhaps (Score:3, Funny)

      by turkeyfish (950384)

      As an avid fan of David's shows on conservations, perhaps instead we can deport Glen Beck to insure that citizens of the UK really are brain dead and thus unable to challenge our technological superiority.

    • by repetty (260322)

      Maybe FoxNews can franchise in the UK. Then the Brits would get to hear their news commentators introduce stories with lines like, "Whoa, get a look at this!"

      I just puked in my own mouth.

      Can you imagine Walter Cronkite beginning a news item with, "Get a look at this!" He was a good journalist and, I hate to say this, but it is actually a merciful thing that he passed away somewhat recently.

      • Re:yes! (Score:5, Informative)

        by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Monday November 08, 2010 @03:30AM (#34159588)

        You realize that Murdoch, who owns News Corporation and Fox News, controls most of Britain's media, including Sky Television, The Times [of London], The Sun, and News of the World. If you want to vomit, look at some of Murdoch's holdings outside the US.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by clarkkent09 (1104833)

        Maybe tabloids, so wildly popular in the UK, could franchise in the US. National Enquirer quality journalism combined with bad puns in every single headline = win.

        • by 19061969 (939279)
          And don't forget the tits on page 3.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by jimicus (737525)

            Nah, the Americans will never accept the idea of the Page 3 girl. Hell, I wouldn't be too surprised if at least one state attempted to outlaw breast feeding because it involved showing breasts to very young children.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        We already have Sky News, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

        • However, Sky news and Fox news, are completely different. At least Sky News aims to be better than the BBC, and has good reporting, though they tend to focus on "Breaking News"

    • Re:yes! (Score:5, Informative)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday November 08, 2010 @03:24AM (#34159570)

      I think you might be overestimating the quality of TV in the UK. The most popular shows are of the same brain-dead kind like in the US, reality shows, soaps, cooking shows and sports. The most watched shows these days are roughly in order: BBC: Eastenders (dumb soap), Strictly Come Dancing (celebrities dancing), The Aprentice, Master Chef, Match of the Day (Soccer). ITV: X Factor and Coronation Street (dumb soap), with X Factor far and away the leader with about 13 mil. viewers. How's that for people who know things? Yes there are some quality shows, mostly on BBC (which doesn't have to worry about paying bills), but not many people watch them.

      • by Pharmboy (216950)

        The most popular shows are of the same brain-dead kind like in the US, reality shows, soaps, cooking shows and sports.

        Culture is our number one export. Not saying it's a good thing, but it is our biggest export.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      You obviously didn't watch Newsnight on BBC 2 when Jeremy Paxman is on. Though he is pretty tame compared to most American presenters.

    • move towards more proper explosion-based documentaries like we have in the US.

      What, you mean like this [bbc.co.uk]?

  • Starts good end bad. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aepervius (535155) on Monday November 08, 2010 @02:33AM (#34159440)
    Starts good end bad. The pessimist in me is that due to "compromise" with "industry leader" a tad tiny bit of fair use will be added, but in addition heavy fine , prison stay will be added for copyright infrigement, and maybe even copyright lengthened a bit.
    • The media companies don't call for harsher punishment any more - they already have that. They are mostly campaigning for easier enforcement - ways to punish infringers en masse, without any of the time-consuming and expensive inconveniences like a need to prove guilt, provide evidence or attend a fair trial.
    • by julesh (229690) on Monday November 08, 2010 @03:58AM (#34159660)

      Fair dealing isn't really similar. It's limited to a very specific set of situations that mean that most people are not able to take advantage of it. As an example, parody is not considered fair dealing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by 91degrees (207121)
        A friend of mine who studied law said that parody can come under the "ctriticism" exception and there was legal precedent to this effect. I suspect that this is somewhat more limited an exception than in the US though. It is certainly the case that British publishers and producers will usually clear it with the copyright holder but this could just be playing safe.
      • by RDW (41497)

        'It's limited to a very specific set of situations that mean that most people are not able to take advantage of it.'

        Indeed. Simply ripping a CD you own won't generally be for 'research and private study, criticism, review, and news reporting' so it's actually not legal, though a majority of the UK population think it is:

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7176538.stm [bbc.co.uk]
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8000876.stm [bbc.co.uk]

  • ACTA Sweetner Anyone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GumphMaster (772693) on Monday November 08, 2010 @02:43AM (#34159464)

    ACTA Sweetner(TM) guaranteed no calories and no teeth.

    Cameron says, "So I can announce today that we are reviewing our IP laws, to see if we can make them fit for the internet age." However, he fails to mention that they are already "reviewing" the UK copyright laws under the veil of ACTA and in secret. This is just a bit of fluff to remove some heat from what is already a done deal.

    • by julesh (229690) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:03AM (#34159674)

      However, he fails to mention that they are already "reviewing" the UK copyright laws under the veil of ACTA and in secret.

      As far as I can tell from all the available information, the UK government has not actively participated in the ACTA negotiations to date. Also, note ACTA is an enforcement agreement, and doesn't really touch basic definitions of what constitutes an IP infringement, which is what they're talking about here.

      • by EasyTarget (43516)

        "ACTA is an enforcement agreement, and doesn't really touch basic definitions of what constitutes an IP infringement,"

        Indeed; ACTA is a worldwide censorship mechanism; the rich and powerful will later on decide what to censor.

      • Also, note ACTA is an enforcement agreement, and doesn't really touch basic definitions of what constitutes an IP infringement

        Of course it isn't an agreement on infringement of rights in IPv4 addresses. Managing address space on the Internet is not the job of countries' copyright offices. Please don't say "IP" when you mean copyright [pineight.com].

  • by j-b0y (449975) on Monday November 08, 2010 @03:09AM (#34159526)

    While we desperately need some sanity injected into the system after the Digital Britain Bill, I suspect this is going to really favour big-media's use of our copyrighted work.

    "He said the law could be relaxed to allow greater use of copyright material without the owner's permission."

    There must be plenty of companies drooling at the idea of smash and grab raids on flickr accounts and GPL'd software.

    • MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cyclomedia (882859)

      While we're here thinking how good this is that we will be able to post reviews of films,games and music on our blogs and not get takedown notices. But what this really means is that shitty british TV that does no original thinking (the news channels just report what they read on twitter) will just compile youtube videos and such without having to pay or ackowledge anyone. Which in a nice rounded world of share-alike licenses may seem all groovy, until you realize they're surrounded by adverts and on subscr

  • Google have been lobbying Cameron for certain legal rights to help their business model, and Cameron will incorporate their request in a new draconian copyright proposal which will hinder other business models (and freedom in general).

  • Cameron? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Monday November 08, 2010 @03:18AM (#34159548)

    Why would Cameron, a deeply conservative aristocrat, care one bit about what the riff-raff can do with his supporter's "intellectual property"? The British have caught the plague that began on my side of the Atlantic: kleptocrats compose a huge part of government, and they've been on a crusade against egalitarianism since the 1980s. Everything done by conservatives in power is aimed at enriching the already rich and reducing everyone else to desperate peasants. They yearn for a return to the Gilded Age or worse [nytimes.com]. If a conservative creates policy that benefits the people at large, he's done it by accident. Academic rationales and appeals to the public, however erudite or reasonable they might appear, are just meaningless words put together by consultants who specialize in creating talking points that promote a particular narrative among a particular audience. These statements are tools with a particular purpose, not sincere attempts to explain the genesis of an action and demonstrate its worth.

    Knowing this, you must consider every action taken by a conservative through the lens of their ultimate goal. If Cameron says he wants to revise copyright law to foster creativity, don't take him at his word. Ask yourself, "In what way will these modifications enrich powerful backers? What loopholes exist? What narrative is the government trying to push? What does it prepare the population to accept? How can the change under consideration be used to hurt the opposition? Where are the lies? Where is the selective truth?"

    Finally, consider the most important question of all: "Will the net effect of this action be to enrich the wealthy?" The answer will invariably be "yes".

    • Everything you say is true, but remember to put the blame where lies the control: with the voter who does not abstain, and with the worker who does not strike. To kill the beast, you must stop feeding it.

      • Okay, I can see the mechanism for striking workers starving the beast. Voters not voting just seems to be throwing away what little input and control they have.

        • by delinear (991444)
          Considering we have a government elected by back-room dealings rather than by majority vote, I'm not at all sure about the "input" you talk about (not to mention the people who have voted LibDem for years being pretty much betrayed by a party greedy for some power throwing away their ideals in a coalition with a diametrically opposed party). When a few percent of people refuse to vote, I agree it just looks like they're lazy or apathetic, but GP is right, if the entire country refused to vote, we could forc
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by xaxa (988988)

            Considering we have a government elected by back-room dealings rather than by majority vote,

            I haven't checked any figures, but don't we have a more representative government than we've had for a long time?

            With the FPTP system Labour had a majority in Parliament with only a small proportion of votes (~30%, IIRC).

          • I'm undoing mod points to reply to you, but I'm sorry, you are utterly and completely wrong.

            For one, getting 100% of the populace to refuse to vote is a practical impossibility. Aside from those individuals who see it as their civic duty to vote, you will always have at least the candidates themselves voting, along with their backers. If people give up on voting, the problem will become *worse*, not better, because there's fewer people to vote for the person who would actually do the job with the people in

    • by Zoxed (676559)

      > Why would Cameron, a deeply conservative aristocrat, care one bit about what the riff-raff can do with his supporter's "intellectual property"?

      I guess the obvious answer is that even "riff-raff" get a vote !

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by QuoteMstr (55051)

        Since when does policy affect voting?

        • by delinear (991444)
          The usual practice by both parties is to screw the electorate for 4 years, then spend 6 months making unsustainable tax cuts and vage, underliverable promises for the future to try and say, hey you know we're bad, but we're still not as bad as the other guys - better the devil you know and all that. The really depressing thing is not even that the parties engage in this sort of behaviour, but that it largely seems to work.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Bear in mind that Cameron's party (Conservatives) didn't form the government. They are in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, and EVERY Lib-Dem MP voted against the Digital Economy Bill which strengthened copyright enforcement.

      • by delinear (991444)
        I'm not sure how much difference that makes, considering it was a manifesto promise of the Liberal Democrats to scrap first-degree university tuition fees, and instead they're now part of a coalition that is tripling said fees. It doesn't even seem to matter that the grass roots members of the party are still opposed to tuition fees - the handful at the top seem more intent on having their little bit of power and going against their major promises. I can't see why their stance on copyright shouldn't simila
    • by Nursie (632944)

      I don't believe for a minute that the music industry is much of a concern to Mr C, I would think his friends are the city types, not the music moguls.

      Not to say they don't have some influence, but I don't believe the media lobby has anywhere near the power in the Uk that it does in the US.

  • by Psychotria (953670) on Monday November 08, 2010 @03:55AM (#34159648)

    But based on everything I've read online, including here on slashdot, US copyright law is the most absurd in the world. As far as I can see there is basically no fair use if you live within the United States of America. Even if US law allows it I would hazard to guess that many people are unwilling and reluctant to apply "fair use". The litigious nature of your corporations and government almost ensure that most sane persons will err on the side of caution, and maybe not publish anything at all in fear of being sued. How the fuck does fear encourage innovation?

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:00AM (#34159820)
      The problem is that, in America, Fair Use is a defense against a civil lawsuit, not a right enshrined in their Constitution. That means that you need to prove fair use in a court which is filled with lawyers on annual bankrolls higher than many people will see in their lifetime, against laws which have been paid for through campaign contributions by the very same people who fund the lawyers.

      It's very much one-sided.
      • by jjo (62046) on Monday November 08, 2010 @08:00AM (#34160348) Homepage

        Fair Use is, in fact, a product of the US Constitution. There are two separate and somewhat conflicting constitutional provisions in play here:

        1. The guarantee of free Speech in the First Amendment
        2. The power of Congress to grant limited copyright monopolies

        Fair Use is a doctrine developed by judges in the 19th century to help resolve the conflict between these two provisions. It was later codified in the 20th century, but with the intent of preserving the existing judge-made law.

        Rights enshrined in the Constitution do not enforce themselves. Some constitutional rights are so well-established that they seem to enforce themselves, but in marginal cases these rights must be asserted in court. In a noted recent case, a group called Citizens United was prohibited from speaking about a presidential candidate during the election, because of the source of some of its funding. Political speech is at the very core of the First Amendment, but the question was a close one, and could only be established by asserting it in court.

        The fact that Fair Use must often be defended in court comes from the fact-intensive nature of the doctrine, making it difficult to decide a priori whether Fair Use applies or not. This uncertainty, combined with the American Rule for paying legal fees (each party pays his own lawyers), skews the playing field in favor of the big copyright holders. This is true even though Fair Use is, at bottom, a Constituional right.

  • It's a start. (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Aaron Denney (123626)

    How about also fixing the insane libel laws as well?

  • Remember, these are the same conservatives (read idiots) who thought public health care would be better if modeled on the American system and if only the railroads were privately owned like in the US the same excellent results might be achieved.

    There is just one tiny problem. The UK is not the US. It takes a certain type of person to be an American and the average brit doesn't have what it takes.

    Take for instance the love for the BBC. State funded TV? No American would be able to stand even the thought of

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