Friday, 16 October 2009

EU Parliment's credibility undermined by 3-strikes U-Turn

Quick post. This week a strange turn of events occurred within the corridors of Europe which casts doubt on the faith we should have in the EU Parliament. Essentially this comes down to the long-standing "3-strikes" which threatens to have internet users disconnected if they are accused of illegal file-sharing (even if the way in which this data is collected is fundamentally flawed). Access to information via the internet is a right - disconnection compromises our civil liberties.

Parliament has voted against this disconnection process on separate occasions with an 88% majority. Just this week the MEP's negotiating team wanted to dilute these judgements (especially Amendment 138) whilst seeking a compromise with the EU Council. Historically, the EU Parliament has been relatively weak in the face of the EU Council and u-turns like this one do not bode well for democracy.

There is a little more detail on the Open Rights Group blog. They also point to an analysis by La Quadrature du Net.

Take action: write to your MEP asking them to put pressure on their team to preserve our rights and the EU Parliament's credibility.

I have written to my MEPs regarding this matter. I urge you to do the same if you care about your digital rights and/or democracy Full text below:

Thursday 15 October 2009

Dear Martin Callanan, Stephen Hughes and Fiona Hall,

I have heard the worrying news that Catherine Trautmann and Alejo Vidal-Quadras (Wed 14th October) have succeeded in leading negotiations to overturn the Telecoms Package, incorporating Amendment 138. As I understand it, Amendment 138 guarantees Internet access and protects fundamental civil liberties and is in danger of being diluted by the aforementioned Parliamentary negotiators seeking a compromise with the EU Council.

It appears that discussions between the Council of the EU, the Commission and the negotiators led to a compromise position regarding Amendment 138 that goes against the intentions of the Parliament that voted for citizens to have guarantees regarding access and other rights. These principles have twice been adopted by an 88% majority of the European Parliament.

This turnaround seems to suggest that Parliament's powers are being undermined. The negotiating team seems to have ignored the mandate they were issued from the Parliament delegation and this sets a dangerous precedent and displays a worrying lack of transparency.

Pressure needs to be placed on the negotiating team in order to preserve our rights and the credibility of the EU Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Jewitt

It looks like pressure is mounting around this issue: ORG. More effort is required. Get writing to your MEPs if you care bout your digital rights

Saturday, 3 October 2009

A year long project tracking music related purchases

There are lots of claims made about how damaging piracy is. The music industry and the groups which represent it, like the BPI, tend to claim that filesharing damages the industry and prevents artists from getting paid or making a living. The recent rant by Lily Allen is an example of how artists are rallying under the BPI's lobbying. Many of these claims are based on dodgy 'facts' and figures - something I touched in a recent post.

There are other studies which point in the opposite direction - that filesharers tend to spend more money on average than non-filesharers. A report by PRS recently showed that spending on music in the UK had actually increased. Inspired by this claim I thought I'd do a little experiment and track my annual spend on music and music related activities.

I'm going to have set a few ground rules. It's relatively easy to keep track of traditional sales like CD purchases but I think tend to spend a lot more money on live music and that brings with it a whole series of indirect costs which contribute to the music experience. Of course, I'm talking about booze (!), without which the experience is less, ahem, enhanced. So, I'm going to include alcohol expenditure as part of the experiment where appropriate. I'm also going to include video games that are music-based, such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

I've been thinking about doing this for a while and I've started going through last month's spending. I'm going to share this data via Google Docs on a monthly basis. This is where you can find the most recent data.

Currently, September looks like a big month with a total spend of over £670 but that is mainly due to attending a music festival (Bestival) and buying a music-based video game (Guitar Hero). This type of cost is not a typical monthly spend!