* Posts by Francis Davey 1

13 publicly visible posts • joined 22 Jun 2009

UK.gov uses purple-panted-berk to get 'young men' to do census

Francis Davey 1
Black Helicopters

they just want to get the job done early (and badly)

Well, I think the Census are wrong in suggesting that the form can be sent back early as I commented:


but to suggest you *have* to send it back early is truly barking. I've emailed them about this (which must put me on their peacock pen list) and their response was to explain how helpful it was to have the forms back early. I bet. But that doesn't mean its either a good idea or legal. Sigh.

Salacious smut soaks 12% of web

Francis Davey 1

All lies probably

How is a search for "adult dating" or "sex" for that matter a search for *pornography*? Or perhaps Online MBA are a bit weak on what "pornography" means. In statistics the easily spotted rubbish is usually just the tip of the iceberg. I strongly suspect that not much of what comes out of this is of much use.

Google removes Chrome beta tag on Mac, Linux

Francis Davey 1

Chrome is not fit for purpose

Many of us - and an increasing number of us - use the web as our primary workspace. SaaS means that the browser is, for us, a primary operating system. It is therefore surprising that google have totally failed to learn important lessons from earlier operating system failures.

For example, if I accidentally hit CMND-Q (on my Mac, other key combinations on other systems), Chrome quits without complaint. All open tabs and running applications die. If Windows, Linux or MacOS behaved like that we'd all be screaming blue murder, but google don't care:


They think they know better. Their attitude seems to be "the world ought to work differently, so we won't change".

Sure, one *can* rebind keys in the OS and so on, but having a one-click kills everything out of the box is so obviously a wrong decision and yet they totally fail to engage with the numerous users who have reported it as a bug. Doesn't bode well.

I'll stick to FF.

Epic Fail: How the photographers won, while digital rights failed

Francis Davey 1

Ah, a partial retraction....

Well I'm flattered to have the word "prominent" associated with my legal opinion. Alas I have yet to profit from the Act. I fear that I might - depending on how things turn out - but that is not a good thing. Creating more employment for lawyers is generally a negative mark against any policy. So far all work has been entirely free, hence the heartfelt remark about wasting energy an effort.

You may be right about the need to build coalitions earlier - that's probably something more in your area of knowledge than mine. I've been concerned about the possibility of provisions like these for some time, but there I don't think there's anything more that I can do about it other than say so.

I'm glad you now admit my lack of influence over ORG strategy 8-).

For what its worth I think the orphan works provisions did need a lot more discussion. In principle its probably a good idea to find a way to unlock works that are doing no-one any good, but the right way to do that hasn't been sufficiently widely debated in the UK and there are several models that could be used. For that reason I think that those provisions were easier to campaign against - there wasn't the animus in their favour and they'd been discussed rather less fully. I'm not sorry they were dropped from the Bill.

Francis Davey 1

Bit of a low blow?

Andrew, its a bit unfair to imply that my only expertise is in housing law. Its a feature of being a barrister that you often don't get to chose your area of practice early on. So I ended up spending most of my time reading, drafting and arguing about leases? So what?

Rather more recently I've been doing a lot of internet law, with you know, actual clients (such as ISPs) who pay me to advise them about just this kind of thing and who are worried about some of the implications of the Act. So I am not an interested amateur, this is what I do.

Rather more misleading is the suggestion that I "led" ORG's legal case on the Bill as it went through Parliament. Far from it. The Bill contained some truly dreadful nonsense which I blogged about on two occasions. On both those occasions the elements I complained about were removed from the Bill. I don't take credit for that, but I can hardly be blamed for not having an effect.

But as for the way the campaign went? I was happy to comment on any legal queries that came my way (from ORG but also from many others) but I doubt I had any real influence over the strategy either ORG, the music industry or anyone else for that matter deployed in fighting over the Bill. More's the pit.

Campaigning is exhausting and I'm happy there are other people to do it for me.

The Act is still pretty dreadful, just from a pure lawyerly point of view. You do not get well drafted legislation by rushing through things on the wash up. I suspect it will waste a lot of people's time and money and absorb a lot of energy and effort. We shall see.

Next time: why not get in touch with me before writing about me? My door is always open - well my electronic door is always open - and I am always happy to discuss law with anyone really interested in it. Just having a dig at someone's professional competence without really checking your facts is plain mean.

Small and mobile ISPs may avoid new filesharing laws

Francis Davey 1

No need to worry just yet

@Andrew Jones 2: at the moment the bill doesn't affect you and your business because not only has no code of practice governing the initial obligations been approved one is yet to be drafted. As this article explains, there's still a lot of detail to fill in. That detail will, crucially, decide whether you will have anything to do at all and, if you are required to do anything, precisely what.

This is why lawyers are generally not rushing forward with guides to the DEA - anything we write now would be full of so many ifs and buts its not likely to be particularly helpful.

That is already the situation for an open wifi operator, as I observed a while ago, in theory you could be made to do a lot of work recording details of the use of your system, but in practice you aren't, see:


I hope to post some more useful analysis of the DEA as the codes of practice become clearer.

High Court: Moderate user comments and you're liable

Francis Davey 1

moderator alerts are safe - that's right

That's quite right. If you post-moderate only those comments or posts alerted to you then provided you do remove defamatory material you are not liable for what you miss.

Struan is quite right about this (no surprises there) this is a well known problem with the e-commerce directive.

Google's 'Musicblogocide' - blame the DMCA

Francis Davey 1

Just use the counter-notice

There's not *meant* to be any due process with the DMCA notice system because anyone affected (for example the bloggers) can just send a counter-notice to their hosting provider and the material will be put back. I'm surprised that the bloggers in question *didn't* do this. Its not like 17 USC is particularly hard to read.

The safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA are far from ideal - as another poster says the largely toothless perjury provisions concerning notices haven't proved particularly effective and there are other problems - but they are a good deal saner than almost anyone else's solution to the problem.

File-sharing Bill could give Government control of the internet

Francis Davey 1


Its hard to get in the minds of people who draft legislation - one of the reasons the courts are very reluctant to try to do so and lets be thankful for that. I can only guess what was going on in the drafters' minds so I could easily be wrong. That's why I said "my suspicion". Best guess.

The point is that even if I am right and this is just a mistake, rather than a deliberate power grab, its still a dangerous power that will almost certainly be misused in the future. An assurance from the government of the day that its not what its meant to be used for or that's not how its going to be used is rarely worth anything at all.

Have a read of the Bill for yourselves though. There's enough signs in there of poor drafting to suggest I might be right. For example the wonderful reference to an "internet portal address" later on. Cobbled together really doesn't cover it.

UK population to abandon Midlands

Francis Davey 1

Learn some geography

As an earlier poster pointed out Orange's (and therefore yours because you didn't comment on it) geography is really poor. The West Midlands does not center on a point North of Manchester, never has, never will. I grew up in Merseyside and now live in London. I wish I could go back, but there isn't the work *there* its not just a question of a pay cut, its any work at all.

MySociety denies role in Blears sacking

Francis Davey 1
Big Brother

More shocking than we first thought

Personally I think the truth (as opposed to the Telegraph's sloppily researched story) is actually rather worse. Posting something disparaging about a government minister on a web forum means lots of people can read it and that might bring the department into disrepute (though exactly how if it was anonymous is hard to see) but sending something cross to an MP which only that MP and their assistants will ever read should really not get you sacked and shouldn't be treated this seriously.

@Charles King: they work for you is not really intended to be a site people leave comments on. Ages ago we all realised that the nature of the material meant that doing comments right on it is almost impossible, so that is left to blogs and other sites pointing to it. TWFY is there to present the underlying data as clearly as possible and aggregate useful things about MPs. Its a source not a sink.

3D TV will won't go primetime in 2011

Francis Davey 1


My experiences of playing with a 3d (autostereo) display in the early 90's was that switching from 2 to 3D made a blocky low-res picture look much better. Your brain already does a lot of smoothing. I'm not sure that you need quite the same picture quality as you do with 2D, or at least that its not completely obvious that you do.

Please don't eat your horse, EU asks owners

Francis Davey 1
Thumb Down


This sort of report is just nonsense. The regulations are pretty sensible, there's an explanation on the Defra website:


Which is rather clearer than the Sun's garbled account. All this is about is making sure that horses that are owned in a normal way (i.e. not wild) are marked as either (a) food or (b) not food. You can't inject nasty unhealthy things into horses you are going to make into food.

That's really nothing to get excited about. Stupid Sun for making a fuss and stupid Register for doing the same.