How to lock up a market: legally

It’s January, and with luck you have lots of new toys to play with. Maybe you’ll have a new games console, a phone or iPad. Perhaps you’ll have bought some software with them, downloaded directly through a curated store.

A year in Digital Rights

Some years you look back and think, thank God that’s over. You wonder how on earth industry lobbyists and ignorant, lazy politicians are allowed to decide the fate of our digital rights, and how they can justify the erosion of free speech and privacy that their policies will cause.

Careless talk costs

A spate of arrests since 2010 has landed around seven people in court or gaol for sending shocking remarks on the Internet. These “social media trials” have centred on individuals sending “grossly offensive” Tweets or Facebook updates. They have been prosecuted under Section 127a of the Communications Act, and the sentences have left many of us wondering exactly what might land us in trouble with the law: merely for expressing opinions that other people find offensive.

Police and “thieves” – copyright trolls

Late in the evening, a policeman knocks on the door. He presents you with a warrant to search your house and seize your computers: but particularly those belonging to your student son.

Digital Economy Act: back from the grave

In the dying days of the Labour government, Lord Mandelson ushered in a law to allow Internet users to be cut off for receiving mere allegations of copyright infringement. In a foretaste of the later protests against SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA, this offensive piece of legislation became the focus of widespread Internet protests.

Bruce Willis: digital assets

Rumours circulated, were reported in the Mail, Sun and Guardian that Bruce Willis wanted to sue Apple over his downloads. It wasn't true, but there is a kernel of fact: you really cannot legally pass on your digital music collection in your will.

I am not an economist, but …

I am not an economist. Most of us aren’t and bluntly most of what people advocate economically is rather prejudicial. My prejudices include that I have felt there is a role for the European Union. Like many people I have been rethinking what I might be supporting in the wake of the Euro crisis.

Playing with MODX articles

Trying out the new MODX blogging platform

Internet filtering

According to Melanie Phillips, writing in the Daily Mail, ISPs are “nothing less than online pornographers” who “are in effect making themselves complicit in child sexual abuse”.

These statements are being taken very seriously at the highest levels of government. The media and politicians are talking about “forcing” ISPs to “block porn” so that adults must “opt in”. As the Daily Mail says:

Preposterously, ministers argue that requiring web users to opt in to…

Pirate Bay block

People get worried when censorship rears its head. Censorship is a pretty negative and blunt response. It implies that the censor does not trust you to make your own decisions. No form of censorship is ever fully effective, so we all know that the unwanted activity will carry on regardless. And the target of censorship will look like a victim, and is likely to become a cause célèbre.

The UK blocking of the Pirate Bay has followed this pattern. Even before the blocks were underway, the site had a surge of traffic; mirrors appeared, and in particular, the Pirate Party’s UK mirror started to draw more traffic. The mirror also places their party’s website under threat of being blocked,…

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