01 August 2011

It's Good to Share

The passing of the Digital Economy Act remains one of the worst blots on the British political system in recent years. As anyone who had the misfortune to witness the final hours of the previous government, the way in which the act was pushed through Parliament by a handful of (mostly) indifferent politicians (with a few honourable exceptions - step forward, Tom Watson...) was a real slap in the face of the British public - and democracy.

We've always known that Peter Mandelson was the driving force behind the legislation, but we now have some of the appalling details of how and why it happened thanks to excellent work by Phil Bradley using the WhatDotheyKnow.com website to submit Freedom of Information requests on the subject. Basically, the whole public consultation being conducted at the time was a cynical sham, since Mandelson had already made up his mind, and wanted to move on to disconnection of alleged filesharers immediately.

Since there are now two excellent analyses of the documents released, one on TorrentFreak, and one on Mark's Musings", I won't repeat the exercise here - I'll just urge you to visit those sites and experience the full arrogant high-handedness of the Dark Lord.

However, I'd like to mention two positive aspects of this sorry tale.

First, the importance of sharing information gleaned through FoI requests. The ability to find out what really happened is great, but not much use unless people can see it and build on it. The WhatDotheyKnow site allows just that.

Secondly, it's great to see yet another fine post from Mark Goodge, who writes the blog "Mark's Musings. I've only just come across this, and I'm impressed by the depth of analysis he offers on a range of subjects that are dear to my heart - for example, this fine discussion of the Meltwater judgment.

Not that I can always fully agree with his viewpoint. For example, as a follow-up to the Mandelson post mentioned above, he has written one called "A balanced approach to copyright", with a list of "things that have to be accepted". Mostly good stuff, but inevitably the following sticks in my craw:

Intellectual property rights do have a solid justification for their existence. It’s their implementation which is the issue.

Well, no - more details to follow later this week.

Still, it's great to have Mark as another voice exploring these key issues for the digital world with such intelligence. It's good to share...*roughly* the same general viewpoint.

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4 comments:

Mark Goodge said...

Firstly, thanks for the compliments and the links!

However, while I obviously don't expect everyone to agree with me on everything, I'm a little puzzled by your disagreement with my comment that "Intellectual property rights do have a solid justification for their existence."

Unless you're arguing for the complete abolition of Intellectual Property (in which case, fair play, but I disagree with that particular viewpoint), I would have thought that that comment is pretty close to a statement of the bleedin' obvious! It is, surely, the implementation which is the problem, not the underlying concept, no?

(It's my third bullet point under that heading which everyone else disagrees with. I can understand why, but I think that's mainly because I've worded it badly and so they've missed my point. I'm planning a follow-up to expand on that one, when the tuit situation is replenished.)

glyn moody said...

@Mark - sorry, I was being slightly lazy there...

yes, I'm arguing in an article that will be a follow-up to this one:

http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/open-enterprise/2011/07/why-we-should---and-can---abolish-all-patents/index.htm

that we should abolish copyright completely.

keep up the great work - I look forward to reading future posts.

Paul Lockett said...

Mark Goodge: However, while I obviously don't expect everyone to agree with me on everything, I'm a little puzzled by your disagreement with my comment that "Intellectual property rights do have a solid justification for their existence."

I'd be interested to know what you believe the solid justification to be, as it isn't explicitly stated in your article.

glyn moody said...

@Paul - might be worth crossposting that to the original post...