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back to article Epic Fail: How the photographers won, while digital rights failed

How did the music business end up with a triumph with the new Digital Economy Act? How did photographers, whose resources were one laptop and some old fashioned persuasion, carry an unlikely and famous victory? How did the digital rights campaigners fail so badly? Back in January, a senior music business figure explained to me …

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Good summary

But could easily have been summed up as "freetards kicked and screamed like small children having a tantrum, whereas the photographers had an intelligent debate"

I do so love it when angry idiots form a mob and generally miss the point altogether or get bogged down in the protest instead of the cause.

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@Annihilator

Good summary of the summary, and an interesting Summary by Andrew. I suspect this could be applied to a range of political issues quite nicely.

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Ignorance is bliss...

... and thanks to the slippery slope debate, you guys in the UK lost your:

- Right to privacy

- Privacy to correspondence (DPI)

- Freedom of Assembly (you are being watched)

- Freedom of Expression (it may be filtered now)

- Discrimination ("you are born in the wrong country and therefore are not allowed watch this content")

Congratulations to the people of the UK for completely missing the point. Then again maybe you also gave up your right to freedom of conscience. But hey, the worst enemy to freedom is a happy slave, right?!

Welcome to Oceania, you helped build it. I hope your children can forgive you some day.

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@Anonymous Coward

Another A/C!

No...that would be the pirate's fault.

You have missed the point, and seem to want to tie all of the UK's current ills and problems to one issue: your right to steal the work of others!

Piracy has nothing to do with privacy. It has nothing to do with freedom of expression. It has nothing to do with freedom of assembly. It has nothing to do with discrimination. It has everything to do with...piracy! So you can slap each other on the back and understand that when YOU push, the government WILL push back.

Your claims are like me saying "Well, congratulations to all of you sheep who allowed that new new law outlawing potatoes...your children will thank you for the fact that there are no more apples, no more oranges and no right to eat a yoghurt in public". Completely seperate issues. Completely seperate arguments. The left really needs to sort itself out and campaign on issues, not throw every piece of dogma their hippy lecuterers throw at them at people no matter what the issue.

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thank you, you fell for it

Yes the law says it's about piracy, but to make the law effective you unknowingly gave up these basic human rights.

You can't execute this new law without trampling over fundamental rights. And that's the whole point. The reason that we are having this discussion is because the ORG did not get this message across at all.

Creators should be rewarded for what they create. But this does not mean that we should create a 1984 society in order to do so. There should be a balance between copyright and privacy issues involved when dealing with the Internet.

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@PirateSlayer

@PirateSlayer: "You have missed the point, and seem to want to tie all of the UK's current ills and problems to one issue"

Oh PirateSlayer, the depth of irony of your narrow minded thinking is amazing. It is you PirateSlayer, with your jaw dropping frankly myopic world view, who is making the exact narrow minded mistake you accuse others of doing.

For example, PirateSlayer: "Piracy has nothing to do with privacy."

The state's approach to stop piracy requires ever increasing *state spying* on everyone to *police* what they do online! ... So that spying is a direct violation of privacy. Make no mistake of the seriousness of this state action. History has shown time after time revolutions have been fought to fight back state interference into peoples lives. Yet now we are sliding into more detailed state interference into our lives than at any point in history!

Ironically the businesses pushing so hard for state spying are being very narrow minded in their thinking but its what they have aways been like. They are continuing to try to prop up their failing business plan by inflicting ever more control on people, because that is what they have always done. Their business plan is itself ultimately based on and has always been based on the concept of controlling the distribution of media. Originally these companies grew powerful from controlling the distribution of physical media.

Plus before you say it, I'm not a supporter of piracy. Far from it, because for decades my work has been pirated, like so many in my industry, yet I know whatever we try to do to limit it, ultimately its simply a case of learning to partly suffer it, as part of the job, (frankly learn to get over it), because nothing we do will stop piracy. But far worse, I actually fear the prospect of any society growing so powerful that it can even think it can try to stop piracy, because to bring down that increasing level of state control on everyone, will also cause far greater harm than any good it attempts to achieve.

Put simply no media is of such importance to society as a whole, that policing its distribution so tightly should inflict such a increasingly blatantly Fascist level (and attitude) of control over society. We simply cannot inflict that kind of control because make absolutely no mistake, once you give that much power to the people in power, they will utterly abuse their new power to remorselessly control peoples lives and they will do it with no empathy at all for the greater good of society. They are only interested in their own goals and its just like the old say, "give them an inch and they take a mile". Give them more power and they will utterly abuse that power and still be wanting more power. Why the hell do you think so many state controlled societies have ended up so distorted throughout history! and as a result, so bad for the majority of people suffering that increasing level of state control.

Try reading 1984 before you claim it has "nothing to do with privacy". Or better yet try reading political history from around the world. Or better yet PirateSlayer, wake up!, its not just about piracy!

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@MinionZero

I would repeat your name ad nausium, but I'll just refer to it in the title.

I have read 1984...I draw no parallels with the Mandybill. It's a bit like invoking Hitler but more middle class.

The world existed before the internet...it can exist like that again (and does for MILLIONS of people). If you don't like what your ilk have done to the internet, start scrawling on the walls of your padded cell, or maybe learn morse code and fart each other messages. Adapt to the police interfering with your every communication...after all...you're smarter than them aren't you?

Try understanding what living in a 'Fascist' regime is like before likening the current situation in the UK to it...I think you'll find you still have quite a few freedoms remaining.

Big Brother, because I am well aware of that piece of fiction.

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@PirateSlayer

Yet again, you refer to copyright infringement as "stealing" and "piracy".

Yet again, you display your total ignorance of the law.

Until you learn the difference between copyright law and theft law (and, indeed, maritime law), I shall continue to ignore your ill-informed rants.

No doubt you'll respond by accusing me of being a thief, but such inaccurate and untrue ad hominem attacks will not alter the fact that you don't have the first idea of what you are talking about.

This is why copyright infringers will continue doing what they are doing - they know that those who would stop them don't have the first clue about it.

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@Annonymous Coward

I'm not a lawyer...I just say what I see. I couldn't give a rats arse about legalese surrounding what software/music/film pirates get up to. Ask a sample of 100 old people on the streets of Britain and I think you'll find that they call it stealing too...mainly because that's what it is, no matter how you dress it up no matter how many moronic arguments you claim counter this fact. The courts appear to agree with me (check the sentences for people arguing points of law or waffling on about big corporations and big business running the show...judges give them short shrift [thank god]).

Your argument appears to be that BECAUSE I call you theives, YOU will continue to 'infringe copyright'. Any excuse, eh? I think you need to read up on cause and effect. What came first? People intent to rip off content creators for all their worth, or the people calling them thieves. I wonder.

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Agreed

Any self-congratulation should be short lived by anyone gaining anything in this farce, and although Mr Orlowski gets to ride his "freetard" hobby horse once again, the biggest "rights" defeat was that which allowed this legislation to be shoved through at the last possible opportunity and with the most duress applied to everyone concerned.

All we're missing now is the Canadian-style pause button where you can prorogue parliament when things aren't going your way, and maybe then we can have another tangential celebratory piece about the benefits to London publicans.

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the opposition was too strong

The photographers were not fighting anyone except an over zealous police force; it was simply a matter of rights. The ORG were facing a group of large, rich businesses, headed by rich powerful people who knew how to use the lobby system, the old boy network, and who were/are in a position to make large contributions to political parties. It was no contest.

However this is only a first skirmish in a major war. It is only going to get interesting when the first attempt is made to cut someone's internet connection. ISPs and other interested parties have enough money and influence to force some form of court case or judicial review and then all the other laws and, common laws and principles that have been steamrollered by this act will resurface.

For example I and my wife are both self-employed IT Consultants. Our business would collapse without an internet connection and should that happen through no misdeed of ours then "Distraint of Trade" legislation would apply.

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Re: the opposition was too strong

"The photographers were not fighting anyone except an over zealous police force"

I think you're confusing two separate issues there. You might want to read up on what Stop43 was all about.

(Also, given the choice I'd rather take on the whole BPI than one over-zealous policeman, never mind an entire force!)

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Re: the opposition was too strong

"The ORG were facing a group of large, rich businesses, headed by rich powerful people who knew how to use the lobby system, the old boy network, and who were/are in a position to make large contributions to political parties. It was no contest."

The conspiracy theory again. Maybe they're all Masons, too?

The photographers foes were more powerful than the music industry - and they won.

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Planet Orlowski

"The conspiracy theory again. Maybe they're all Masons, too?"

You think corporates don't meet up and discuss how to get more money? Seriously? Try lunching somewhere other than your local dustbin.

"The photographers foes were more powerful than the music industry"

You keep saying this. Don't make it so. Seeing as you're a bit blinkered, old horse, here's the realpolitik for you: the police(*) do what they're told. By the government. Which takes its cue from the moneymen. Clued in yet? You seem to think the hired guns have more power then the ranch owners. Risibly naive, even for you.

(*) Obviously this ignores the rank and file scum at the bottom. Like the rank and file of every organisation, they have no vested interest and consequently don't really care too much about the politics or indeed anything at all.

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Odd example

>> For example I and my wife are both self-employed IT Consultants. Our business would collapse without an internet connection and should that happen through no misdeed of ours then "Distraint of Trade" legislation would apply.

I guess that if it happened through no misdeed of your own that would probably be something your ISP would be in a position to compensate you for, not really to do with this legislation is it?

If it happened because you were sharing copyrighted material then I guess that in the eyes of the law that is a misdeed and much like speeding or smoking dope, a lot of people might not feel that it's so terrible, but it is (now) the law. I'm not really clear on how this issue should be- as a content creator I rather like the idea of being able to benefit from my work, but I don't know that cutting people off for it is correct- but I do think that if you chose to ignore repeated warnings from your ISP until you got yourself cut off in this situation, you would be hard pressed to blame anyone but yourselves.

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Garble

I wish I could understand what you're getting at. What do the police have to do with it? Where are the horses? Are you always this good at getting your message across?

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@breakfast

"as a content creator I rather like the idea of being able to benefit from my work,"

You may like the idea but I suspect this bill will not make the chance of you collecting a penny on you efforts *any* easier.

However should you hand over the rights to your work to a nice friendly corporation you may get something. If they choose to give it to you. Eventually.

Whenever very large corporations bleat on about how they're just trying to protect those *poor* struggling creative types I smell a large steaming mound of self serving BS.

However that does not make the ORG right. Just a little less wrong.

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@John Dee

John, if you're representative of the sort of arguments and general attitude presented by ORG activists, it's no bloody wonder they took a kicking.

I would say a well deserved kicking, but by taking the extreme line they did and getting stuffed, they've made things worse for everyone except the music business.

Yeah, job well done there.

By contrast Stop43 seems to have been a textbook example of how to engage in the political discussion in a way which can carry influence and gain results.

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Anonymous Coward

As Perseus to your Medusa ...

"What do the police have to do with it?"

I've no idea, old fruit, I don't actually read your rubbish. I just idly followed the tags given to the article. You tell me what the police have got to do with it. Having skimmed the outpourings of your gaper, it would seem I can cut the police out of my argument, and it still holds. HM Gov still dances the moneymens's jig. You still appear to be missing a few tricks, old chum, and I still believe most of your alleged connections are very, very imaginary.

"Are you always this good at getting your message across?"

Open up your climate rants to the science tards, old bean, and we'll find out.

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Denmark syndrome

It doesn't matter that the bill passed.

If it had failed the govt would just have re-introduced it a year later very slightly changed.

Until it got through. Like the Danish EU referendum, gets voted out, so try again later.

So we were going to get this regardless. Ever since Mandleson had his 'meeting' with Geffen.

"Money doesn't talk, it swears" - Dylan

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tax free lifestyle for freetards!!!!!!

If you have your internet taken from you by HM Gov, then how do you fill in a long and complex tax form online (now that HMRC insist that online forms will be the way forward)?

Can one argue that by the government removing the method of notifying them of the tax you owe, they can no longer insist that you pay it?

Sure you CAN go to an internet cafe, but A, they will be shut down too and B, what kind of security can they offer? Anyone could be noseying at your screen and paperwork,

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Answer to your first question

On paper. The paper system still exists, and will continue to do so for those exceptions (like not having an Internet feed) that will continue to exist in the future.

Just because Internet filing is the preferred route does not mean that it will be the only one.

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Anonymous Coward

Neatly done

Nicely summarized. We (the photographers) were genuinely frightened - the 700-odd photos on my website were swiftly watermarked top-to-bottom in my initial panic. It's a bittersweet victory, though. It's not as though I/we are unconcerned with the other legislation, which looks hurried and opportunistic (because it obviously is).

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A bit mixed

OK, so "Professor" in the UK maybe means more than it should. There are chairs at UK universities funded by corporate interests, and skill at fund raising seems to count for more than ability, these days, but that's a bit of a snide comment about Professor Edwards. Digging out something that sounds embarrassing is a standard political trick when you can't respond to the message.

And when you've pointed out so many of the weaknesses in one campaign, compared to the one which did succeed, the specific point you make does seem less than relevant. What did Lilian Edwards say that was, somehow, wrong in this situation? All that's easy to find about her running of Science Fiction Conventions (I checked Wikipedia) is from over 20 years ago, and includes a Worldcon (in 1987, with over 4000 people in Brighton).

It doesn't look as shabby as your comment makes your journalism look.

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Incorrect.

While academically UK "professor" tends to stand for full professor instead of associate or assistant professor, it is not a legally protected term (while PhD or Dr for example is). So anyone can call themselves professor...

[Example from Holland: the populist politician Pim Fortuyn had taught at a uni once on a blue monday (as lector I think), and has later referred to himself as professor.]

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I wrote to my MP

I wrote to Lorely Burt, my local Lib Dem MP, regarding the portions of the DEB which were effectively only for propping up the artificial scarcity model of the major record labels. She sent back a letter detailing the important points of the proposed Act which made it worthwhile, but ultimately agreed with my points and said that she would follow the party line and vote against it.

She didn't even turn up.

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Anonymous Coward

So vote against her

Now is your chance to show your disdain for the lot of them. Vote for the opposite to the incumbent or spoil your ballot paper ("none of the above" - tick). PR would be better and voting on specific laws might be even better (depends on how they are written obviously).

My local Labour MP has a huge majority and the both the cons and libdems are roughly equal, so I'm rather stuck. I'll need to check my MP's voting record on this .. I know he has voted for a majority of the various ID card bills, so big strike against him for me. I'd love to vote Monster Raving Loony for their sensible policy of compulsory serving of asparagus but they are not silly enough to stand here.

TODAY IS THE LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER TO VOTE ! (even if you spoil your ballot you should vote)

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I'm doing one better than spoiling the ballot

I'm sending both of the letters to the local press, and emailing copies to the folks at the Lib Dem website.

My MP lied to me, and she did it in writing.

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Boffin

AC@17:30. Spoiling a UK ballot

Spoiled UK ballots are not counted at *all*.

There is *no* "None of the above" option on a UK ballot paper.

If there wre it *might* give a more honest picture of the electorates view.

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re: AC@17:30. Spoiling a UK ballot

Erm, yes there are - in the final tally, the number of spoiled ballots are given.

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There is a more mundane explanation

For the BPI's triumph - they've got money, they can rent yachts and villas in the Mediterranean and can and do invite certain politicians to visit them there. This whole thing really stinks.

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Spot on about Jim Killock

Too often ORG's arguments sounded like the kind of thing you'd hear in student politics.

Shame really. The UK really needs a decent organisation to do what ORG is supposed to be doing.

They need to look and behave a little more Liberty, or other similarly principled but generally sensible campaign groups, and a little less like a campus political campaign about boycotting Nestle.

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Re: Spot on about Jim Killock

I agree.

Electronic voting, data protection are too important to be left to serial bunglers.

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Expectedly biased summation of events

I fall into both camps here - a photographer who agrees with ORG.

There are two dubious assumptions this article makes:

1 - the AC "source" quoted is speaking correctly and fully represents the views of the proponents of the bill.

2 - that Stop43 and ORG had, from the outset, an equal chance of success.

I think assumption 2 is the most flawed.

The whole sorry affair was never about getting public opinion to sway one way or the other, I doubt any people even understand what Stop43 was all about. If it was, it wouldnt have been hidden until the washup and the Prince of Darkness himself wouldnt have come up with the idea during a bit of cozying up time with his future overlords.

Yes, the BPI did wipe the floor with ORG, but what was the actuall opposition that Stop43 fought off? The BPI certainly werent going to fight the Orphan Works clause as, to an extent, it worked against them.

Overall this bill has left everyone a loser. You can rant about it being the freetards fault all you want but at the end of the day, no one else had a better idea of how to do it.

Once more the rich have shown who runs the country.

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Re: Expectedly biased summation of events

" what was the actuall opposition that Stop43 fought off?"

Have a read of the website: Murdoch, the BBC, large publishers, etc.

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Size of opposition

Is it a case that Stop43 fought them off better than ORG did the BPI or that they actually cared a lot less than is implied here?

An oddity of clause 43 was that the orphan rights seems to have undermined a lot of the rest of the bill.

It strikes me as a fail to scream that the Open Rights Group failed and imply it had an equal chance of success as the Stop43 campaign. Is there not a healthy amount of confirmation bias here - you disagreed with the goals of ORG, so by them failing to overturn the bill it has to be their fault rather than anything else.

The reality is that the shafting was delivered externally and no amount of blaming ORG is going to change that.

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Re: Size of opposition

If you want to succeed, you look at what you did critically and learn from mistakes.

If you want to fail, keep the same crew that failed, keep the the strategy, and repeat the tactics.

You'll keep failing. But some people are comfortable with that.

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Re:Re: Size of opposition

"If you want to succeed, you look at what you did critically and learn from mistakes.

If you want to fail, keep the same crew that failed, keep the the strategy, and repeat the tactics.

You'll keep failing. But some people are comfortable with that."

As a freetard try competing with a billionaire and his bloody great yacht moored somewhere in the Med offering various luxuries to those onboard. The fact is Captain "Unelected and Several Times Removed" had his grubby little paws all over this one and there was only ever going to be one outcome. You can write all you want trying to convince yourself that the outcome was ever going to be any different but the rest of us already know that the little shitbag was never going to accept defeat on this.

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Sizes

"If you want to fail, keep the same crew that failed, keep the the strategy, and repeat the tactics."

I cant argue with that and I think anyone suggesting this is valid needs to rething (*)

The difficulty is working out where the actual fail was. Broad assumptions based on ideologies, on every side of the divide wont acheive this. There was little public involvement in this bill so its hard to see how ORG turned people off the idea.

It may simply be something that is unwinnable. If thats the case, they can do anything which makes them happy....

(*) Despite this common sense we fall into this trap every day. We complain drug use is up, so we try more of the same to reduce it; we complain crime rates are going up, so we try the same tactics we used a year ago to reduce them. Etc.

The BPI is complaining illegal file sharing is on the increase so it tries more of the same to reduce it....

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Re: Sizes

ORG made legislators more sympathetic to the BPI position. I didn't hear this complaint from legislators about ISPA, Which? or other consumer groups which were allied to ORG.

So there is something about the style or substance (or both) of ORG specifically that made something bad, worse.

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Re: Re:Re: Size of opposition

Epic fail:

"As a freetard try competing with a billionaire and his bloody great yacht moored somewhere in the Med offering various luxuries to those onboard..."

It's a really pathetic line of argument. You're resorting to conspiracy theories when you should be fixing your arguments. Now mull on this:

ORG made legislators more sympathetic to the BPI position. I didn't hear this complaint from legislators about ISPA, Which? or other consumer groups which were allied to ORG.

So there is something about the style or substance (or both) of ORG specifically that made something bad, much worse.

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Re:Re: Sizes

"So there is something about the style or substance (or both) of ORG specifically that made something bad, worse."

Quite possibly but only if we can be sure that the initial premise is true.

What legislators claimed that Which?, ISPA et al., had made them sympathetic to the cause? Did any? If not then rather than being the succesful model they were equal useless but just not mentioned as a cause of failure.

What reason do we have to believe that, in the absence of ORG, they would have leaned towards Which? / ISPA rather than said "well ISPA made me more sympathetic" etc.

If ORG hadnt existed, would the legislation have passed or not? If it would have anyway, then I dont see how ORG made it worse.

Is the argument that ORG prevented a few clauses being fought over, if so well I can see that but in the big picture its not as important. Even the tories seem to think that sometimes letting a bad law go unscathed and then challenged is better than watering it down until it stays bad but is untouchable.

I dont have a major axe to grind and dont support ORG or its activites more than anyone else. I think, however, there is a risk with making knee jerk reactions as to what worked and what didnt - especially if these pander to a preconceived position.

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Re: Re:Re: Sizes

"If ORG hadnt existed, would the legislation have passed or not?"

Nobody played the Trump Card. No.2. If a group had started making that case two years ago, then no, I don't think the Tories would have backed it. The Tories would prefer a pro-business anti-regulation position on most issues. They were pushed into a Law and Order one instead.

"I dont see how ORG made it worse."

see above.

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Re: Re: Re: Sizes

"If a group had started making that case two years ago, then no, I don't think the Tories would have backed it. The Tories would prefer a pro-business anti-regulation position on most issues. They were pushed into a Law and Order one instead."

Ok, this is the crux of the disagreement and one we will never know the answer to - unless on 7 May the incoming Conservative Government repeal the act and replace it with something more "pro business and anti regulation."

My suspicion (and that is all it is) is that whatever colour was in 10 Downing St, the interested parties would have been able to provide enough political drive for the bill to pass. That it had to wait until wash up is interesting.

If, as the case seems to be, Tory MPs only supported it because ORG annoyed them even though they were against it in principle, well they dont deserve to be MPs....

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Sizes

anonymouse > unless on 7 May the incoming Conservative Government repeal the act

Why would they do that?

> "If Tory MPs only supported it because ORG annoyed them"

You seem to accept a little bit more reality with every post. What you're having trouble with is the idea that patient, rational argument can go along way to eventualy political success.

Some nerds lack empathy and are happy doing student gesture politics forever though. (And not just nerds)

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Hmm.

I think its a bit disingenuous to claim that the grotty bits of the bill survived because of ORG's failure to put up a decent opposition. As has been pointed out above, the main opposition to the photographers was an overzealous police force, whereas ORG had pitted themselves against the combined might of a trade organisation well-versed in the art of lobbying, plus Peter Mandelson himself, who wields such an influence over his party that it fell to only a few rebels to vote against the bill. Also, I don't really get any sense that the ISPs were relying on ORG to win this one on their behalf.

ORG did run a fairly lacklustre campaign that had its fair share of forehead-slapping moments, but I don't think you can accurately claim that they are responsible for the bill passing as is. Obviously Andrew's disdain for ORG and its overall agenda is well publicised, and I'm with him on a number of points, but I think he's overstating their role in this ballsup.

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Only one out...again....

And as has also been pointed out before - in response - is that the "over-zealous police force" didn't give a hoot about S43. The only orphans they're bothered about are ones allegedly being sex-trafficked in the back of lorries.

Try S44 (Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000)- that's the one they and rent-a-job security guards use(d) to bother ordinary photographers.

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43...

...was against the biggest multimedia publishers in the world and every cheapscate penny pinching newspaper in this land.

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