A Copyright Masquerade by Monica Horten new year promoA  Happy New Year to all Iptegrity readers

...and to all of you who  bought my books, a very big thank-you!  


A Copyright Masquerade: how corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

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Opt-outs for self-regulatory filtering and FacebookZero plans? Is this really net neutrality?

 The Council of Ministers is to focus on net neutrality and roaming and throw out the remaining provisions in the EU Telecoms Regulation. It’s aiming for an agreement by March, so that it can open negotiations with the European Parliament. Unfortunately for those who may be hoping for a net neutrality law in Europe, the discussions are going the wrong way, with a number of get-outs being proposed to help those  governments that want to permit their Internet providers to block,  filter or favour.

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UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will put  communications data at the top of his list for  new laws after the May 7 general election. Assuming  he is re-elected, he wants to extend the range of data that would be legally accessible to  the police and intelligence services, on a scale thus far unprecedented.  His proposals, justified on the basis of an increased terror threat,  will also up the ante in terms of the technology companies that will be obligated to comply.  The concern is that Mr Cameron’s implied multi-dimensional data retention requirement will also create an apparatus that, without sufficient safeguards and in the wrong hands, will result in  a vastly disproportionate, over-arching and unacceptable violation of  personal privacy.

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ECTA regulatory conference copyright panel 19 November 2014

I was delighted to be a panelist at the annual conference in Brussels of the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) on  Wednesday 19 November 2014.

The panel was entitled "What's next for copyright?" and panelists were asked to address European Union copyright policy moving forward into 2015, with a focus on the issue of cross-border availability of content.

As we are now at the beginning of the new year, and in eager anticipation of the European Commission's moves on copyright, the following text  is an edited version of my speech:

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In the 800th anniversary  year of Magna Carta, what of our free speech rights?

As we begin 2015, let’s remind ourselves that this year is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta – the Great Charter that first established rights and on which later charters of human rights have been built.  In 2015, we are seeing more and more threats to those hard won rights by various interest groups (corporate and non-corporate) who want to block and take control of our communications systems that have been established over the Internet in the past two decades or so.  It does look like 2015 is going to be critical year for the protection of those rights.

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Who would knowingly request the invasion of their privacy and violation of their free speech rights?

There are rumours that the Council of Ministers  of the European Union is reviewing its proposal on net neutrality that leaked recently.  However, there seem to be many observers who are  puzzled by one piece of language in the proposal. That is the phrase "except where specifically requested by an end-user". Why would the EU Council would consider an individual ‘requesting’ traffic management  as an exception to a  net neutrality rule? I put forward one possible answer.

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The Council of Ministers is sharply divided over the net neutrality provisions in the new Telecoms Regulation. The split within the Council  emerged today  in a meeting of the Telecoms Council, where all 28 EU member governments gave their view on the Council’s new proposals for net neutrality. Broadly, the positions line up with the Dutch and Slovenians who are not happy with the Council’s text,  and (sadly) the Brits at the diametrically opposite position,  who support it.

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After President Obama’s recent statement in support of a strong net neutrality law, many European citizens will be disappointed at the EU’s latest  position as the political battle for the Internet reprises.

 The EU's  net neutrality battle is starting up again after a few months' hiatus. It’s all happening around the Telecoms Regulation, that was adopted last March by the European Parliament with a ground-breaking provision to enshrine net neutrality into EU law. Naturally, the large telecoms corporations are up in arms against it, and now documents - seen by Iptegrity -  have emerged  from the Council of Ministers that reveal an attempt to erase it. And, the Council proposals will enshrine traffic management  as the principle for running the Internet.

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With copyright liability for cloud computing services hovering on the EU  horizon, what can we we learn from the case of ABC Inc v Aereo in the United States Supreme Court?

**My paper which updates this article -  The Aereo dilemma and copyright in the cloud' - has now been published by Internet Policy Review**

 A judgement handed down in the US Supreme Court today has underpinned the claim of a group of broadcast companies that royalties were due from a cloud-based service relaying copyrighted content. The ruling also raises a looming threat of new liabilities for the nascent cloud computing industry.

The case of ABC Inc et al vs Aereo Inc, concerned whether or not a cloud service transmitting

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***Breaking news *** 4 strikes deal *** Digital Economy Act without the backing of the law***

 A so-called ‘voluntary’ deal is close to being agreed in the UK between the Internet Service providers (ISPs) and the music and film industries for a system of notices to be sent to Internet users who are alleged to have downloaded copyright-protected material from non-licenced sources or ‘pirate- sites. This is the deal that Minister Ed Vaizey previewed in Parliament earlier this year, which he called VCAP –Voluntary Copyright Alert Proposals.

 Little is known yet about the deal, which was revealed  on (leaked to?) a BBC Radio news programme. The BBC is currently the sole source - I cannot find any other information  and the companies concerned have not put press releases online – however, it looks like they’ve tried to broker the Digital Economy Act without the backing of the law and without the involvement of Ofcom and scrapping the independent appeals body. Here’s what is known about it.

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The duel between the telecoms industry and  European citizens’ advocates  over net neutrality as the European Parliament prepares for a decisive  vote.  At stake is the very principle of net neutrality – will Europe be brave anough to enshrine it in law?

 At stake is the entire future of the Internet in Europe.  The telecoms operators have a plan that will totally disrupt the Internet as it stands, enabling them to charge both users and content owners provision of content services. Such charging would position the telecoms operators as the gatekeepers for content, and erode the public service nature of the Internet   – if they are allowed to get away with it. The outcome of tomorrow’s vote will be a determinant of what they can, or cannot, do.

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I was on the panel of a public debate hosted by LSE Media Policy Project on Monday 10 March 2014. The following text  is an edited version of my presentation.

My presentation  addressed the notion of  ‘freedoms’ in the event title.  The  specific topic – intermediary liability  for copyright enforcement - brings the the issue of ‘freedoms’  into sharp focus  because the proposed measures  asking ISPs and search engines to protect copyright online by blocking and removing content also present a threat to the Open Internet and potentially to free speech.  My focus  is not on  getting stuff for free, but on the potential for blocking of legitimate speech.

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Iptegrity resumes

**Wishing all Iptegrity readers a happy new year for 2015!**

I am resuming Iptegrity after a long break  - the first I had in  7 years of writing this blog. I extended my time out after I sprained my wrist in August, when  I had a little  brush with carpal tunnel syndrome. It has been worth the patience to let it heal, and I'd recommend to all my readers to look after your wrists, and do listen to ergonomic advice.

I am also working on a new book - updates on progress will appear here over the coming months.

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten,  policy writer and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She is an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on Cross-border flow of Internet traffic and Internet freedom (MSI-INT). She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012. Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy. Iptegrity is read by lawyers, academics, policy-makers and citizens, and cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity

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A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

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