back to article LibDems score copyright coup

The LibDems' surprise amendment to strengthen UK courts' powers over digital copyright infringement passed late last night, despite Labour and Tory opposition, replacing the government's original, preferred proposal in the Digital Economy Bill. Out goes the ability of the Minister to extend copyright legislation by statutory …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    What stupidity

    Technically, I don't think this holds up. What about legitimate content that is hosted on the same IP as infringing works? To block an infringing work on You Tube, for example, would take out a significant chunk of the service. Dynamic DNS will also easily circumvent this measure and likely result in the engagement of cat and mouse that could see an IP block list just get larger and larger, ending up growing well out of human administrative control.

    They just haven't thought this through. As per bleedin' usual.

    True, I haven't got a solution either, but this is using a sledgehammer to crack several innocent nuts as well as the offending food encasement in the one swing.

    I hate, with a passion, stupid legislation like this which will sit on our books and likely never be used. I wouldn't like to be in the legal professions right now. They're lives must be hell keeping track of all this junk.

    1. max allan

      I was just about to say that

      Why do people who have no idea about what they are legislating for get the power to make legislation.

      They're still talking about "websites". Don't they realise that the internet is not just websites now, it's P2P, NNTP, RTSP and more.

      Also, ever heard of "virtual hosting" where multiple websites share the same IP address.

      stupid, stupid stupid...

      Basically, once anything is in digital form, it's copyable and distributable. As soon as everyone gets over that, life will be a lot easier for all concerned.

      Companies will stop complaining because they'll realise there is no revenue in CD/DVD sales. They'll have to make the money on cinema or live show ticket sales instead. And artistes will have to make money out of public appearances and branded goods etc...

      Why are films in particular so expensive, because the "mega stars" demand so much money. Why do they demand so much? Because they can. If the film companies didn't have that money to spend then they'd get someone equally as good, just not as famous/expensive.

      1. Mike Gravgaard

        RE: I was just about to say that

        I completely agree with everything you've written...

        The thing that gets me is that pirates will use TOR or another DNS server out side of the British isles; this changes nothing.

        The innocent people will have to put up with this though.

        Also how to they block sites; using IP blocking or removing access to DNS records will just block whole URL's rather than just the page in question - this is using a sledge hammer to crack a walnut or it also gives the green light for DPI.

        I think the Lib Dems have been got at by the sound of it or just don't understand the issues attached to this so I might vote for one of the even smaller parties (Green). If my ISP starts using DPI then I will start looking elsewhere or I will try to encrypting all traffic with a couple of these (


    2. Anonymous Coward


      Forget about dynamic DNS, imagine what it will be like when the infringing site gets 10,000 non-consecutive IPv6 addresses, all pointing to the same web-server? That's 10k requests to find out the owner of the IP address, 10k letters asking them to stop infringing (assuming they've taken the trivial step of making up 10k fake names and addresses), then 10k IP addresses to be supplied in an injunction, 10k IP addresses for every iSP to enter and check etc etc.

      Not going to happen.

  2. Si 1


    What a pointless idea. All someone needs to do is pay for one of the burgeoning VPN services out there and they'll be able to circumvent any blocks entirely. So this will cost money for ISPs to implement and will make no real headway in stopping piracy at all.

  3. Gordon861

    Bye Bye Google ?

    "The intention is also for the injunction to only be possible for sites where there is a substantial proportion of infringing material that is either hosted by that particular site or is accessed through the particular site in question."

    Won't this mean that they could start blocking all the search engines due to that fact that they are often a very good way to find links to the sites that host warez or P2P links?

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge


      Google neither hosts the infringing material or provides access to it, so you're wrong on that count.

      YouTube does host quite a lot of infringing material, but they listen to takedown notices.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid etc.

    This is going to result in network level internet sensorship by the back door in the UK - sites such as WikiLeaks will be bombarded with injunction requests by 'copyright holders' such as the MoD, Trafigura etc. resulting in a MASSIVE blow to freedom of speech.

    Of course, there will be ways round it such as private VPN services, (HotSpot shield is a good example which although ad supported is free and effective - great news for anyone in the UK wanting to access US only services such as Hullu ;o).

    How 'liberal' lords can come up with such an illiberal ammendment is beyond me!

    1. The Original Ash

      Re: Wikileaks

      Wikileaks is on Freenet. The more who join, the faster and more reliable it becomes.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Not how it works

      Sad to say, your decision not to vote Lib Dem won't make any difference in this case. They're Lords, so their not elected :-(

      Probably worse is the fact that the Lords are the last point of protection for stupid legislation. It's the Lords that can block the crap the the government of the day want to pass. What are they doing adding changes? I guess I don't really understand how it works either, but then, that's the advantage they want to keep isn't it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Vote liberal?

      I always have in the past. TBH, what decided me was the backstabbing nastyness that happened last time they had a leader change. Liberal my arse. there just like the rest of them.

      Problem is, the BNP and NF stand in my constituancy, so i got to vote for someone. I just hope someone from the Raving Loones is standing.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Yes, stupid but...

    What did you expect?

    It's designed to block The Pirate Bay and Rapidshare. Many countries block these already. Freetards will get upset for five minutes, and the world moves on.

    So we're all stuck with a stupid piece of legislation, but I didn't see the 'tards ever campaigning for artists, or proposing something better.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      They would rather come up with reasons why they download. Sometimes I think that they would only be happy if the company execs came round and gave them CD's, but only the ones they wanted.

      Anon, because I will probably get flamed now, or more likely lots of downvotes, but no sensible replys.

      1. swaygeo

        Aw bless ya!

        I'm feeling brave today (or foolish)

        I pay for music I like in the vague hope that some of the money will reach the people making the money.

        Obviously most of it wont, but some bands are starting to go at self signing, so sometimes the band actually do get the money! (Case in point being Hard Fi who almost are totally self financed)

        And in case that didn't annoy enough people,


        Jolly Good :D

  7. Shakje

    I wonder if this would be here

    were it not for a recent (relatively) high profile court case about a website which provided access to infringing material.

  8. David Webb


    I'm not sure if anyone remembers but recently the NPG went up against Wikipedia for stealing thousands of copyright (in the UK) images. I think the images in question, and the actions taken by the NPG would pass the measures in this ruling.

    With that in mind, and this legislation, ISP's should now block access to Wikipedia? After all, Wikipedia ignores international copyright law when it suits them and treats it as US law under "fair use" or whatever.

    It does seem a bit dangerous and lots of web sites may be caught out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Are you saying that a big company should be able to ignore the law if they so choose? I don't really see a problem with a company who can't or won't take fair and proportionate actions to remove or prevent the use of other's copyright material having their IP addresses blocked.

      The vast majority of wikipedia users won't know that the site ripped off a load of images and would probably have a few questions to ask if they found that the site became blocked because of it. Wikipedia using other people's copyright images would be like a linux distribution including code from Apple or MS, it's not right to pass off others work as your own, especially if you gain profit from it at their expense.

      1. David Webb


        On the contrary, I'm on the NPG's side in that debate, Wikipedia was in the wrong and should have taken the images down, it was just an example.

  9. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    I disagree.

    This is clearly aimed at serial copyright abusers, not the likes of YouTube.

    The key point is that *most* of the site's content must be infringing, *and that the site has not taken any action to remove said content when asked to do so*. Both, together, imply deliberate, *wilful*, infringement. And I have no problem with such sites being taken down.

    (No, it's not a perfect solution, but then the Internet was never intended to be used for the purposes it's used for today. There's an awful lot of economic value riding on the Internet, which is also worrying. Roll on Internet 2.)

    What this law does *not* mean is that casual file-sharers will be booted into jail and banned from the Internet forever.

    Nevertheless, there is some validity to the point that this is a civil, not criminal, issue. But for an amendment coming from the House of Lords, it's a refreshingly informed approach to the problem, given the limitations it has to work with. It's certainly a big improvement on Mandy's original proposals.

    1. max allan

      It's a blunderbuss not a rifle

      It doesn't matter where it's aimed, it's going to hit anything standing anywhere near the target. And don't think it won't, copyright holders' lawyers will start using it as an excuse to try and get all sorts of stuff banned. Even if they don't succeed, it's probably our tax money that will end up paying the court costs to sort it out.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Tinfoil hat loonies

        No it won't. The exemptions are wide enough to exempt almost anything except Pirate Bay.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      It doesn't matter who it's 'aimed at', the legislation will used and abused for purposes undreamed of by the moronic lords who proposed it. (Just as provisions under the Terrorist act have been used by local authorities to surveil parents re school catchment areas etc. etc. etc. etc.)

      Those thinking that this bad legislation will sit on the books unused are also fooling themselves; if it can be turned to anyone's advantage then you can guarantee that they will make use of it.

    3. Tom 35
      Thumb Down

      the Internet was never intended to be used for the purposes it's used for today.

      And no laws are ever used for things it was never intended for? If terror laws can be used for dog poop what will people bend this to? How do you think a group like the Scientology nuts will use it?

      I notice that you have to pay the copyright holders costs if they win, but I don't see anything about them paying if they are full of crap.

  10. deshepherd

    Previous precedents

    Examples quoted above of legitimate websites etc getting blocked because they share the same IP address as someone allegedly breaching copyright is probably quite likely. Wasn't all that long ago that all uses of Telewest Blueyonder internet found that their email was being bounced by various mail systems because some people had set up there own email servers and had failed to secure them properly and thus were running open relays which were spamming from addresses ... this got blueyonder on to a spammers list and for a bit all blueyonder users were unable to email to a variety of other ISPs.

    1. frymaster

      happens all the time

      in fact this is a major problem for all ISPs and thier abuse departments spend a great deal of time battling blacklistings. now imagine you aren't a large ISP with a big staff... if it's a small enough site you might not even notice the lack of UK access, and if it's a network-level block and your email is hosted on the same box they can't email you either... for all your UK users know, the site's just stopped working

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (e) is interesting

    So "(e) the extent to which the copyright owner has made reasonable efforts to facilitate legal access to content"

    How does this play out with companies who deliberately withdraw copyrighted material from the marketplace?

    It sounds as if; if it's out of print or no longer available to buy elsewhere then that's a legitimate defence in court.

    1. Paul 4


      I think people are reading too much in to this, and forgetting UK law is genraly ruled on the spirit, not the letter, hence case law, unlike the US.

      It sounds to me that El Reg are reading that "you must let us have everything", but it is more likely that it is a way to prevent monopolisation. I'm sure other people will see it another way.

    2. The BigYin

      I was thinking that too

      I am also wondering how that applies to a particular version of a movie/song/whatever that is not released here.

      Also, where something is released in one region with a long lead-time before it arrives here. Until it lands, is the sharing legal?

      In fact, how does it work with DVDs etc? Region on is not available here; so it is OK to share Region 1 encoded DVD images in Europe? Are these different enough to form a loophiole?

      I hope so. Not because I want to share files etc., but because I want to see the idiocy that is region locking die a horrible death. Different regions for various language sets is a good idea - but it should not prevent me from playing whatever I had bought. Which is does now.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    Good luck I'm behind 7 Proxies.jpg

  13. John A Blackley

    Culchur rools

    How awfully typical of the British parliament that, in the midst of "initiatives" to increase the spread of broadband (hah!) in the United Kingdom, they would also spend so much heat and light fizzing about protecting copyright on the internet.

    Compared to other western countries, use of the internet in the UK is piddling, at best. Try finding information on companies with the ease that you can in, say, France or Germany and your results will be spotty - at best. Try getting broadband access at home that consistently performs at the promised speed and you'll be yelling, "Glory hallelujah!" if you succeed. (By 'promised speed' I mean the speed written in normal font, not that appended to the 6-point asterisk.)

    Of course the gubmint will waste time and money wittering on about a subject most of them comprehend about as well as Mandarin - it's one of Britain's national addictions. (The general approach to problem solving among gubmint types in the UK is to ban something, tax something or make something unavailable in that country.)

    I'll not live to see it but I pray for the day when, A) Politicos actually understand the subject of the debate and, B) British politicians switch to creativity instead of negativity to serve the citizens of their country. Don't worry, I'm not holding my breath.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      France & Germany

      "Try finding information on companies with the ease that you can in, say, France or Germany and your results will be spotty - at best."

      Not what I have found. Germany is ok, in the right areas, France however, is rubbish, but far better than the med. What sort of infomation are you looking for?

  14. Ross 7


    Just because there exist methods to work around a statutory scheme doesn't mean that the scheme is without value or should be binned. The Police have the power to arrest people, however some people work around that by arming themselves, putting on a Hiljab etc. it doesn't mean that arresting people doesn't work, just that it ain't perfect.

    Most people in the UK are entirely incapable for searching for, selecting and operating a VPN connection for the simple reason they haven't got a clue what one is or why they would need one. It's therefore a pretty poor argument to say "let's not bother attempting to protect peoples work because some people can work around it, and a minority proportion of those will work around it".

    The idea that the entirety of YouTube will disappear due to this legislation is pretty laughable. I don't mean to be mean, but seriously - if you actually use YouTube you'll see that they have a particularly robust copyright infringement policy. It would therefore be extremely unlikely that the legislation and policy would be so at odds that YouTube were blackholed. If you disagree I would welcome any examples that may reasonable come to pass.

    (e) is an interesting part, and well lobbied for. It doesn't give you free reign to copy material that is currently unavailable, but the courts will give consideration to the point. As an example, if you download a deleted song that will never be released again for your own personal use you may be able to use (e) as a defence. It's no guarantee, but the courts will give due consideration to it.

    On the other hand, if you download a Disney film that is currently unavailable but on their release list for 2015, it is unlikely that (e) would hold as much sway - they fully intend to make the material available at a cost and it is clear to the public when that will be. It's therefore not a panacea for people downloading in-copyright material, but it brings some reasonableness to proceedings.

    The 50 letters procedure is presumably intended to please the courts who are busy enough as it is. If 50 letters doesn't make you think twice then you're going to risk incurring the wrath of a County Court judge for wasting his/her time. I personally would consider stopping at around 20 - you're clearly on someones list...

  15. Richard Barnes


    So won't they have to block all connections to providers of Usenet acess as well?

  16. Subliteratus

    Facilitating legal access

    I've always thought there's very little point in getting into an arms race with the copyright infringers - they're never going to pay. You can try making life difficult for them but that'll just mean someone's going to come along with an app that can use a decentralised tracker with encryption and proxying built in, along with a recommendation system for other torrents the infringer might be interested in. I'd give it a year or so now.

    Then where do the content guys go after that? Where they should have gone in the first place: releasing a DRM-free version of their shows & movies for paid download when they're first shown/released and stop forcing people to go through the whole cinema/dvd/movie channel/itunes/tv cycle. Sell to the customers who'll buy but sell when *they want to buy*, not when studios want to sell. I don't want to have to wait for BBC2 to get around to showing Heroes before I can buy the DVDs.

    Shows like Sanctuary demonstrate that approach can work but there have been no others I've seen taking up the same model. The producers of Sanctuary even give the SD version of the show away for free and only charge for the quality version. And, with brazen irony, they used all those websites that distribute infringing content to get their legal content out to the community.

    In essence: you're a dummy if you expect people to wait half a year to pay you for stuff they can have free today. And that stays the same no matter how many conniving, unelectable, morally-bankrupt life peers you solicit.

  17. Ian Stephenson
    Thumb Up

    I like point (2) (e)

    "the extent to which the copyright owner has made reasonable efforts to facilitate legal access to content"

    Use it or lose it guys!

    abandonware - great.

    Movies - Split Second (1992 Rutger Hauer one) - one of the all time greats - no longer available to buy anywhere - great (disclaimer - I did track this down a few years back and own it).

    1. Stef 4
      Thumb Up

      Split Second

      And there was me thinking I was the only other person to have seen this 'masterpiece'.

      Luckily I bought a DVD copy on Aus-Ebay many years ago, works fine for me in England.

    2. Reality Dysfunction


      SPlit Second ....bought in amazon last year with no problem...

      All those old ScF shows that never finished the first year and got canned that they refuse to release on DVD will be my abandonware get out clause

  18. The Mole

    Collatoral unlikely

    "whether a substantial proportion of the content accessible at or via each specified online location infringes copyright,"

    This clause seems to be the key one which means that if there are other sites hosted on the same ip and the location specified is just the ip then the proportion of infringing content would have to be considered as a proportion of all the sites that would be blocked. So if you want to infringe and avoid being blocked make sure you also host lots and lots of legal content to (and be prepared to argue how propotion should be measured).

    The big thing that does seem to be missing is any reference to the technical and cost feasibility of putting a block in place, this may be covered with the catchall clause "g" but as it stands it looks like a court could order isps to use packat filtering to block a particular url location such as

  19. Paul Smith

    Fair and proportionate use

    While the intent of this amendment was to remove arbitrary decisions by ministers and allow judges to block the likes of PrirateBay, the effect is to open up internet censorship and yet another avenue for legal blackmail.

    Censorship; Reuters breaks a story which is not favourable to a UK politician and uses an image of that person to illistrate the storey. Layer claims that image is copyright and gets injunction from judge forceing every ISP in Britian to block all access to every Reuters website. This delays the storey long enough for spin control though the ISPs have to pay to implement the ban. Another judge then throws out first injunction for being stupid and ISPs have to pay to remove the ban. Who pays the ISPs?

    Blackmail. How about one of those ambulance chaseing b*stards you see on TV rings you up at home. He has just spotted a picture of you on the internet and says he is willing to give you 20% of whatever he can get and you don't have to do anything. He then contacts the companies hosting your image and tells then that for a small 'fee', he wont have them shut down for copyright infringment. If they don't pay up, he attempts to get an injunction. If that fails he is not out of pocket. If it succeds, the ISPs have to pay to implement that ban, the company involved looses all its web presence and the b*stard still doesn't have to pay a penny. When the company pays him to lift the injunction and go away, he gets the money but the ISPs still have to pay to lift the ban. Who pays the ISPs?

    And at the end of the day, people who want to access PirateBay or similar sites, can continue to do so with only minor inconvienence.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Wishful thinking laddie

      People are lazy, and most are technically illiterate, so 99.99% of people won't bother. If Pirate Bay "disappears", it stays disappeared.

      A small but determined minority will continue swap music on blogs and private networks, like they always have, I don't think the music business is bothered about this. It wants the majority to do more legal downloading.

      You seem to spend a lot of time to put your thinking - how about doing some thinking about how to make legal services much better? They should be.

  20. mafoo

    Wah wah whaaaah, fail.

    Victory is proving how little of a situation you understand.

    "In comes the ability of the courts to block network addresses based on infringement notifications"

    So when some torrent tracker lists a randomly generated IP as a method of protecting themselves/their users - and some lawyer sends a batch infringement notice - hundreds of people get disconnected and have to go to court to prove that they weren't responsible. (assuming ISP uses static IPs)

    When a serial pirate gets his IP flagged and disconnected with a ISP that uses cycling IPs then all they need to do is restart the router and the next user to connect and get the offenders old IP will find their internet not working. This would probably lead to an accumulation of 'poisoned' IPs inside the ISP's network.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Read the F**ing Amendment

      You've misunderstood it completely.

      You're referring to blocking users, but this Amendment is about blocking websites - by IP address or name isn't specified. That is what's new.

      If you can't be bothered to read the article could you please refrain from commenting? It saves everyone a lot of time.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor, poor lawyers

    "I wouldn't like to be in the legal professions right now. They're lives must be hell keeping track of all this junk."

    Pure hell. They're crying all the way to the bank.

    Are you for real, Michelle?

  22. Tom 7

    Excellent Idea

    I assume this is a clever ploy to make the law look such an ass that even paid judges wont dare allow any blocking.

    Objection your honour.

    On what grounds?

    This is even more stupid than letting Mandleson make up his own rules.

    Case Dismissed.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which of you have read the amendment?

    I only ask because you're all getting in a froth about what El Reg. has written about IP addresses, and yet I can't see where in this amendment it mentions anything about IP addresses:

    "(1) The High Court (in Scotland, the Court of Session) shall have power to grant an injunction against a service provider, requiring it to prevent access to online locations specified in the order of the Court for the prevention of online copyright infringement."

    All it requires is for the provider to "prevent access to the online locations".

    So why the froth?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Because no one reads the FA

      Now you're really asking for trouble.

      Reading the article before spouting your opinion will get you shouted down here, so it's far better to post your opinion from a position of ignorance.

      Where's the icon of the jerking knee?

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward

      No it isn't

      Andrew Crystall: another numptie hasn't RTFA.

      It is not notify and takedown at all - it blocks off sections of the internet in other countries. Except the clauses make wide exemptions for freedom of expression, etc.

      But thanks for sharing, Einstein.

      1. Tom 35

        Yes it is

        Where did it say it was ONLY for other countries? If it's for other countries why would it say "the Court shall order the service provider to pay the copyright owner's costs". Note that there is nothing about the copyright owner paying the service providers costs if they are trying to pull a fast one.

  25. Puck

    Unintended consequences, reportage and copyright

    "would the Daily Telegraph have been able to publish the MPs expenses scandal without its website being blocked? The expenses are Crown Copyright." - Andrew Orlowski

    I think the media law section of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 answers that to some extent:

    30 Criticism, review and news reporting; (1) Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of criticism or review, of that or another work or of a performance of a work, does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that it is ... accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement. "

  26. RW
    Thumb Up

    About that Crown Copyright

    We have the same pestiferous concept here in Canada, and it sucks. The USA provides a far better model: nothing the government produces is copyright, period. That's why on Wikipedia you often see photographs derived from the US government used.

    I don't know the legal basis for this, but the concept seems to be that the information has already been paid for via general taxation, so should be freely available. I believe that if you looked into it, you'd find that the US government spends a fair amount of money making such information easily available. The GPO (Government Printing Office) is famous for publishing incredible numbers of pamphlets, even books, on all sorts of subjects from making soup to designs for large animal restraints to hairy quantum mechanical calculations and charging next to nothing for them.

    An admirable approach, and a detail worth remembering next time you feel like kicking the US for some retrograde nonsense.

    PS: about those animal restraints: the answer is yes, indeed.

  27. Luther Blissett

    @Ross 7

    > Most people in the UK are entirely incapable for searching for, selecting and operating a VPN connection for the simple reason they haven't got a clue what one is or why they would need one.

    Which is why I can't wait for the Doily Mile to explain it to its readers - they already know they need one, they just don't know they can get one.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Politicians vs Courts

    Are all those people complaining about this amendment really saying that they preferred the original one which means "blocks" being decided by a politician?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Download Sites

    First up, how is someone going to know that a site in say, Russia is mostly illegal rather than legal without having server logs? It's not like that material has a central index like the torrent sites do.

    Secondly, if they block by IP, then the DNS will get changed. If they block by site (not sure how they'd do that), then someone will quickly come up with a HOSTS file update system.

    If they block it, a new site will appear and forums across the web will pass the message around. You really think it's difficult to get a new domain name and to move what's in to

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