Aaron Swartz and the Open Access movement

In January this year, young programmer and open society evangelist Aaron Swartz killed himself at the age of 26. As someone who had helped create RSS, developed Reddit, and been a huge force in recent Internet campaigns against the US SOPA and PIPA bills, his death was a huge blow to digital rights supporters.

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.

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.

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 tpb.pirateparty.org.uk started to draw more traffic. The mirror also places their party’s website under threat of being blocked,…

Copyright controversies

The war in the USA between the open Internet and copyright industries pushing for draconian controls took an unexpected twist in the last weeks.

The Bills – SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protection of Intellectual property Act) – were withdrawn. President Obama threatened to veto SOPA. Republican candidates were highly critical.

It looks like a straightforward victory for common sense: which would be an unexpected twist. Normally, copyright industries seem to cloud political judgements to an extraordinary extent. Internet activists don’t expect their campaigns to be easy or quick. Victories are often last minute, down to the wire affairs.

The proposals – for Internet censorship of foreign “infringing” websites, interference with DNS, possibly intrusion into…

Latest Comments