The Guardian has an interesting article on Peter Mandelson in that he seeks to amend copyright law in new crackdown on file sharing. Mandelson is hoping to amend the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The amended bill is expected to set out a "three strikes" policy under which people who are found to be illicitly downloading copyrighted material have their Internet connections withdrawn after three warnings.
The Guardian interestingly points out that if this became law the Tory Government (if/when it wins the election 2010) would assist Rupert Murdoch point out:-
But the proposal to alter the Copyright Act in this way has caused alarm within government, where some fear that an incoming Tory administration could use it to curry favour with Murdoch, head of the News International publishing group.......
Murdoch has recently said that he believes that copyright is being abused, particularly by organisations such as Google, which uses short extracts from online newspapers to create its Google News page, and the BBC, which he has accused of "stealing from newspapers".
Cory Doctorow has described Mandelson as Pirate Finder General. Doctorow points out the following:-
Secretary of State Peter Mandelson is planning to introduce changes to the Digital Economy Bill now under debate in Parliament. These changes will give the Secretary of State (Mandelson -- or his successor in the next government) the power to make "secondary legislation" (legislation that is passed without debate) to amend the provisions of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).
What that means is that an unelected official would have the power to do anything without Parliamentary oversight or debate, provided it was done in the name of protecting copyright. Mandelson elaborates on this, giving three reasons for his proposal:
1. The Secretary of State would get the power to create new remedies for online infringements (for example, he could create jail terms for file-sharing, or create a "three-strikes" plan that costs entire families their Internet access if any member stands accused of infringement)
2. The Secretary of State would get the power to create procedures to "confer rights" for the purposes of protecting rights holders from online infringement. (for example, record labels and movie studios can be given investigative and enforcement powers that allow them to compel ISPs, libraries, companies and schools to turn over personal information about Internet users, and to order those companies to disconnect users, remove websites, block URLs, etc)
3. The Secretary of State would get the power to "impose such duties, powers or functions on any person as may be specified in connection with facilitating online infringement" (for example, ISPs could be forced to spy on their users, or to have copyright lawyers examine every piece of user-generated content before it goes live; also, copyright "militias" can be formed with the power to police copyright on the web)
Its interesting if this highly unpopular and unworkable legislation comes out. But hell, its not if its not happened before.