Campaigners call for ongoing protest against Digital Economy Act
Future for whistleblowing site Wikileaks among critics' fears
Ahead of Wednesday's final reading of the Digital Economy Bill in the House of Commons, known as the "wash up", protesters worried about its effects built up a forceful opposition movement, with thousands using the Twitter tag '#debill' to raise concerns.
Many technology journalists are alarmed by the new clauses, replacing an earlier clause 18, which would see accused filesharers' internet connections suspended.
The bill proposes that a court could grant a "blocking injunction in respect of a location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright."
It could affect the whistleblowing site Wikileaks, for example, as Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming speculated in Parliament, an issue previously flagged up in the Guardian. "It publishes leaked Government information, on which Governments always have the copyright," said Hemming.
Stephen Timms, minister of Digital Britain, claimed the government does not want the clause "to be used to restrict freedom of speech" but did not address the Wikleaks issue specifically.
Online campaign site 38 Degrees worked in partnership with the Open Rights Group to mobilise opposition to the bill. As a result over 20,000 people emailed their MPs through the site and donors helped support a newspaper advertising campaign.
But 38 Degrees said that the campaigning it is far from over. The group is asking supporters to sign up to the campaign, to urge candidates to protest over "damaging lobbying" in Parliament.
"The DEB was a really a lobbyists' law, made because the music industry paid for vast amounts of pressure to be applied at all stages in the process of making the new law," campaigns director Hannah Lownsbrough told Journalism.co.uk.
"This isn't the way we should be making laws, so we want new rules to clean up corporate lobbying in Westminster.
"Open Rights Group will continue to campaign on the consequences of the Digital Economy Bill into the next Parliament. 38 Degrees is also continuing to work with ORG to ensure that we get laws that protect our internet freedoms and we'll continue to fight for those freedoms to be properly protected under the new government.
Writing on the Open Rights Group blog, ORG executive director Jim Killock writes: "Is this a defeat? It seems to us, and a lot of bloggers today, that it isn't. Why? Firstly, this is a huge victory for transparency. Thousands of people watched and commented on what would have, a few years ago, been a quiet, barely public event."
Some journalists were celebrating at least part of the bill's final version, notably photographers, because clause 43 of the bill (formerly clause 42), the proposal on orphan works, was dropped. It would have allowed third parties to use photographs commercially, without first seeking permission, opponents of the clause claimed.
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