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Ed Vaizey responds to reports of ‘conspiracy’ on industry web-blocking discussions

Apparently Ed Vaizey has met the members of the Open Rights Group and wasn’t impressed by the campaigning group, describing them as being stuck in permanent shouty student mode. He is more convinced by the economic arguments posed by industry copyright holders. Vaizey himself has declared that he is a strong supporter of copyright, and said he was unimpressed by the argument that it’s “an outmoded conspiracy designed to put money into corporate interests”

He feels that most people don’t go out of their way not to pay for music but are just looking for good music and not always finding it where they want it. He would like to see the music industry working operating in “enlightened self-interest”. He also took a swing at the complaints the BT were placing against the Digital Economy Act and suggested that if they put as much effort into providing a good music offering as they did complaining, we would have an fantastic service.

He expressed frustration that ISPs were spending millions on fighting the copyright wars, rather than innovating.

There is no conspiracy
“One thing government is good at is bringing people together. I’ve found that in discussions in a neutral venue, people are more polite in front of ministers. Government also has a responsibility for setting the legislative framework and making sure it’s fit,” said the minister.

“P2P file sharing is not the only threat. We set up the Working Group on site-blocking and it has done some promising work. What kicks off this huge conspiracy theory is that ‘voluntary’ is misleading. It’s about working within the existing law to block sites that are serial infringers. It’s about trying to speed up the process to agree on the most notorious sites and have it fast-tracked.”

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Call from Google to UK Government – open website-blocking debate to the public

A couple of weeks back I wrote a blogpost titled UK Copyright lobby in talks with British Government on national web censorship Now Google is trying to get the UK government to open up these closed-door discussions on website censorship to the public and parliament.

Up until now, the discussions have been private and have been with communications providers and other copyrights holders to explore the idea of website blocking for those that may infringe copyright. Sarah Hunter, Google’s UK regulatory chief is calling for a public debate on the UK-wide site censorship issue. This backs up requests from Open Rights Groups who are making the same request.

“There are conversations that the government has instigated,” Sarah Hunter said at a Westminster Media Forum on Wednesday. “We’ve said from the outside that this isn’t something companies should make decisions on. People feel very strongly about how the internet is delivered to them.”

“If the government wants to make laws about blocking websites, then they need to discuss it with the public and parliament,” Hunter continued. “I hope that… everyone who has a stake in the internet can have their voice heard.”

It seems that the Google representative was something of a lone voice at the conference, which was dedicated to discussion of the forthcoming Communications Act revamp. Various commercial broadcasters being behind the idea which protects their investment in their current offerings. They went on to state that much copyright infringment occurs beyond current national juristiction. Hunter replied back that it was still questionable whether or not blocking those websites on a national level was “the right way” to fight infringement.

Currently the public is not getting to hear about what is being proposed other than what is coming out of socieal media sites such as the following posted to Twitter by Open Rights Group (ORG) chief Jim Killock on Wednesday:

“Interesting meeting with @edvaizey this morning about web censorship. Wanted to know who ORG is and what we would do about infringement.”

UK Copyright lobby in talks with British Government on national web censorship

This story was originally reported by Cory Doctorow in a Boing Boing Posting. Currently I have not found any verification of this but the story is certainly being reposted,shared and retweeted. If it is happening as reported, it may well be something to be concerned about.

Update: The BBC news today (24/06/11) reported on this story in their technology news section. Read more about it here
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