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back to article Gov must act on 'innocent' web-browsing copyright timebomb

The government should legislate rather than wait for the UK or the European courts to rule on whether internet users have to pay to browse websites, a UK media monitoring business has said. James Mackenzie, commercial director of Cutbot, told Out-Law.com that businesses and internet users could both suffer if the government …

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Nope...

...read this 3 times and still can't make any sense of it.

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Big Brother

Re: Nope...

I too, came here to post "WTF?!"

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Facepalm

Re: Nope...

Indeed - has the world finally gone mad? Or did I miss the boat when it already happened.....

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Re: Nope...

quote: "...read this 3 times and still can't make any sense of it."

I'm not sure I've done any better than you, but the gist appears to be the under existing UK copyright legislation, the internet has been acting illegally. Say you have a website, and you ask a copyright holder (e.g. yourself) for the right to show their material, and they (you) agree. So you host the material on your start page (e.g. upload a pretty photo you took on holiday).

Anyone who visits your page downloads a copy of your photo for the browser to render, and therefore makes a "temporary copy" on their device. The article appears to say that such "temporary copies" require the browsee to obtain specific permission from the rights holder before making said copy. This is not feasable, and I would go so far as to say nonsensical, in the context of webpages on the internet; clicking the link initiates the copyright violation prior to the user being aware that any copyright may be breached (it could be a page containing only orphan works, and you don't know until you have already visited it). Apparently though, unless the government actually makes changes to the law to specifically allow "internet publishing" an exemption, it will still be actionable in court if someone decides to start charging license fees on content they previously allowed access to for free.

To game this system, post your albums on flikr or facebook and then write a letter to them asking them to ensure that all visitors are correctly licensed to view the material (licensing cost £10 per annum, per user). The ensuing fight between the site lawyers ("but you signed away all rights to the photo when you uploaded it, it is ours now!") and the copyright lawyers ("my client, as the rights holder to those images, is within their rights to charge a licensing fee for any subsequent publishing of those images. Failure to comply with this is a violation of copyright") could be quite amusing, at least up until the court rules that facebook/flickr are actually the new rights holder (thanks to successful lobbying, no doubt) and that they can now charge you for the right to view your own photographs.

Note: hosting the images on your own webspace and then linking them instead should (hopefully) circumvent enough of the one-sided upload contract to give the other side pause for thought, although it'll probably end up with you getting into trouble for linking your own images, as you are facilitating an act of copyright breach (against yourself) if the viewers are not licensed under your own terms :(

tl;dr - UK copyright law is (unless I have read it wrong) unworkable in the "digital age" thanks to the ruling that viewing a website on a PC is an act of publishing, and publishing temporary copies of a work (browser cache) still requires explicit consent, and can have a requirement for fee-based licensing. If I were feeling cynical I'd be tempted to claim that Legislation =/= Common Sense :(

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Re: Nope...

If I post a comment somewhere saying, "Hey, check out this amazing article - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/07/23/gov_should_act_on_web_browsing_copyright_issue/" El Reg could possibly sue me for copyright infringement in their article, or maybe not. The issue is being argued in court at the moment.

Some people want the government to change the law to make it clear that such an act is legal. The government wants to wait to see what the outcome of the court case is.

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From what I can make out.

From what I can make out, making a temporary copy of something copyright in order to render it for the person viewing is deemed illegal under current copyright law unless the copyright owner is asked and gives explicit permission beforehand.

If this is the case, it's complete gibberish. Would the same apply to the front cover of a magazine? When you view said cover, you effectively create a copy (albeit maybe slightly fuzzy) in your memory. Does that make you in violation?

Sounds like a great case of law over sense to me.

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FAIL

Re: Nope...

Why is there even a court case. Should have been thrown out as 'stupid'.

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Re: Nope...

Thank you Numpty.

As I thought - it's all bollocks.

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Facepalm

Re: Nope...

When reading [a book or the web] becomes copyright infringement, revolution is near.

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Re: Nope...

Me neither. LOL when I saw the top comment. I thought I was just missing something. Apparently not.

As you were lads. Nothing to see here.

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WTF?

Copyright?

Can you even claim copyright of a tweet? I thought there were certain barriers that had to be overcome for something to be considered copyrightable?

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Re: Copyright?

"I thought there were certain barriers that had to be overcome for something to be considered copyrightable?"

Yes there are: you have to find a stupid enough judge to agree with you.

*Not* a high barrier to entry.

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Re: Copyright?

"BERNE CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF LITERARY AND ARTISTIC WORKS

Article 2

(1) The expression "literary and artistic works" shall include every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever may be the mode or form of its expression, such as books, pamphlets and other writings; lectures, addresses, sermons and other works of the same nature; dramatic or dramatico-musical works; choreographic works and entertainments in dumb show; musical compositions with or without words; cinematographic works to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to cinematography; works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving and lithography; photographic works to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to photography; works of applied art; illustrations, maps, plans, sketches and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture or science.

(2) It shall, however, be a matter for legislation in the countries of the Union to prescribe that works in general or any specified categories of works shall not be protected unless they have been fixed in some material form."

That sounds pretty broad to me. As long as it is "fixed in some material form," even that depends on the national laws... even so, I would consider a hard drive platter to be quite physical.

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TRT
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Well I just...

hope that nobody sites any case-law in the decision, because that citation may just breach the law.

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g e
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Holmes

UK gov should just grow a damned spine

And draw a line in the sand beyond which Big Media has to fend for itself. That line should preferably be located in 1983 or earlier.

UK.gov continually forgets who its biggest paymaster is - the Taxpayer (a word foreign to many megacorps like Vodafone, et al)

At least one of our elected assclowns is giving the intertubes some consideration, even if it's largely unintelligible.

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Re: UK gov should just grow a damned spine

It used to be, in this country, that nothing was illegal unless it was specifically legislated against, or found by a court to be a breach of the common law. Now, it seems, successive governments have implemented incredibly broad legislation that outlaws huge swathes of "innocent" activity, and then adds caveats to "allow" what was only rendered illegal by their actions in the first place. It's fundamentally unjust and it leads to corruption, as lobbyists angle for their own particular exemption from the law and politicians create special classes of Thing that are now exempt, and expect to be treated as heroes for suppressing the rights of the people and then granting them a little bit back.

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Sounds rather like a new kind of FUD.

Big Advertising trying to erode creators rights even more. Asking for legislation where there isn't a problem in the hope of being able to landgrab on the back of the legislation.

Aided of course by the general lawyers desire to make complicated legislation about everything in the hopes lawyers can make more money out of it...

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If you don't want me to see it - protect it

It is not hard to stop visitors seeing all, or part, of your web site until they have paid a fee. The Times does that (which is why after 30 years I switched newspaper - to The Guardian).

I get the feeling that someone is angling for a way of demanding retrospective fee -- you visited our web site yesterday: so cough up.

What next ? I pick up a newspaper left on a train and have to pay to read it ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If you don't want me to see it - protect it

Or is it more like:

"if you look at a poster in a public place, you ought to pay the copyright owner something"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If you don't want me to see it - protect it

> "if you look at a poster in a public place, you ought to pay the copyright owner something"?

Yes. Current DVD licenses prohibit showing the DVD in a public places, schools, clubs etc. So if this digital content can be legally restricted like this why cannot the content on a web page be similarly restricted by absurd licensing?

Any web page if protected or not can dictate pretty much whatever licensing terms they want under current coyright laws. See "Terms and Conditions" on most web sites.

Or, say for example if you have paid for a Times subscription, but you access it at a Cybercafe, and all your mates shoulder surf you, then they are a bunch of freetards and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for copyright violations.

The whole concept of copyright and content licensing in 2012 is flawed and needs to be completely re-rewritten/re-thought.

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Ye glods and little blue fishes

If you don't want people to look at stuff, don't put it on the interenet.

If you don't want people to link to it, there are plenty of dynamic ways of writing a web page.

If you want to criminalise your customers, you won't have any.

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FAIL

Re: Ye glods and little blue fishes

Sounds like someone's putting laws in place so their buddies can make money from litigation.

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Unhappy

Just rationalizing existing laws

This is the same legal point why the online PVR companies get screwed (because they have to make copies).

Given some of the rulings around the required amount of text you can copy before its breaching copyright (like the newspaper headlines web sites were slapped for republishing), I'm surprised that the ISP and internet backbone escapes the same judgement (packets held in buffers being copyright material that requires a license).

Its not in the interests of the legal profession or Government to change the legal status of these "transient" copies.

Such nitpicking is a huge source of legal fees for many years to come.

Also allows big business much more control over their media than they would otherwise have.

The little guy is still screwed once they declare his work an "Orphan" ofc. Only big business need apply.

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Windows

Funny the article mentions Meltwater...

Bit of bedtime reading....

http://antimeltwater.blogspot.fi/

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There's lies, damn lies, and Lawyers

The way it looks to me there's couple of ..entities.. creating a lot of Lawyeresque broohah over the word "technically" in the verdict in a case between a commercial entity (Meltwater) and your general Copyright Shark (NLA), extrapolating it into ridiculousness so it applies to general web-browsing in the time-honoured tradition of the ambulance-chaser.

Besides a staggering level of willfull ignorance of the technological aspect of the internet, and how content is presented, there's so many levels of "where's the money" in this issue that the only thing one can hope for is that the supreme court throws this one out on it's arse like the good judge did in the Apple-Samsung spat.

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Re: There's lies, damn lies, and Lawyers

People seem to forget that the guys defending US from THEM are also lawyers...

This 'first, kill the lawyers' stance is a bit like screaming about how terrible *all soldiers* are when your nation is attacked and your army defends you.

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I'm confused. If I host someone's copyrighted data, I need the copyright holder's permission.

If I link to the data owner's website, I'm just telling people where the information is to be found.

If I deeplink to the copyright holder's website or link to information they do not want made public then they have only to set up the server to not allow direct access to the data or to password protect sensitive data.

If it is unlawful to direct people to copyrighted data or or look at at without the copyright holder's permission then librarians are criminals. Excuse me, I'm off to post some sensitive copyrighted information on a billboard so that I can sue the lot of you.

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You are confused becuase ...

... meltwater isn't simply linking to pages, they are copying multiple chunks from articles along with the links, and emailing them to clients. The chunks copied may individually or collectively amount to a copyright violation., and require a permissions license to distribute the copyright material. Their clients are then storing a copy of the meltwater emails for an indeterminate length of time.

Think of it in terms of spotify which needs to obtain a license to give it permission to stream songs, its customers would also need a license if they were to rip the stream, and save the songs as mp3s on their computer.

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What has web browsing got to do with it?

From my recollection meltwater are/were providing email results to queries by searching their database of crawled articles. Each snippet was some 256 chars long, but many snippets of any one particular article could be included in the email, thus representing a large part of the original article. The point of the meltwater emails was to enable their clients to avoid doing any web browsing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What has web browsing got to do with it?

Seems like the guy from OutLaw hasn't fully understood what the Meltwater case is about. It'd certainly explain why the article is so difficult to follow.

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Anonymous Coward

What about where copyright is deliberatley flouted?

Like where a behavioural advertising company scrapes copyrighted data out of a user's browsing stream, to check for content and feed them ads, for commercial gain? Will that be even more ifllegal that it is(nt) now?

What about where an conveyor! of! emails! or a Big Telephony company reads and alters users emails?

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Sorry, I can't obey this law

Because I haven't been given specific permission to read it to find out what it says.

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This reminds me of a Ricky Gervais joke

Teacher: "All the laws are in the bible"

RG: "What all of them?"

Teacher: "yes, every single one!"

RG: "What about internet piracy"

because lets me honest. Copywrite laws are as old and outdated as the bible itself

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FAIL

Re: This reminds me of a Ricky Gervais joke

Thou shall not steal.

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Re: This reminds me of a Ricky Gervais joke

Infringement isn't theft, though.

Also, good luck finding any rules against underage sex in the bible...

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Re: This reminds me of a Ricky Gervais joke

It's "right" not "write", it's nothing to do with writing, it's to do with rights, the collary of duties.

Anyway, I thought all this was sorted out in the 1988 Copyright Act which says something like: it is not an infringement to transfer data and/or code into a computer's memory in order for that data and/or code to be used.

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huh?

If copyright owners don't want people downloading their precious stuff they wish to consider not putting it on the internet.

Looks like a lawyer with overheads to cover...

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Re: huh?

Like if authors don't want people xeroxing their stuff then they shouldn't put it in books and magazines. News for fuckheads everywhere downloading is not ultra-legal special activity that is somehow NOT copying.

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Re: news for fuckheads everywhere

I can read a book without Xeroxing it. I cannot read a web-page without downloading it. Fuckheads everywhere might care to think for a few minutes about the difference there.

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Re: news for fuckheads everywhere

@Ken Hagan

But by reading a book, you do make a copy. or don't you remember what it was about 5 mins after you finished it? On the upside, I guess you'd only need one book on your shelf to keep you entertained for years.

Remember, this is about extending "technically" to include stuff not intended to be included.

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Re: news for fuckheads everywhere

Um, the article *I* read was discussing whether an explicit legal right was required to read web pages. You seem to be discussing downloading files for future (and possibly repeated) use.

And no, I don't suppose that the "mental copy" created in the mind of the reader has *ever* been regarded as a copy by a court. Otherwise reading, or even conversation, would be illegal. Specifically, remembering the law on copyright would be a breach of Crown copyright and the judges would have to lock themselves up.

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News from Earth

Leave the FUD on Alpha Centuri or wherever the hell from. No one cares about browser caches during normal web surfing STOOPID. What they care about is the SAVE AS (the permanent Xeroxed copy), especially when such copy is used for commercial purposes. That was/is the point of the MELTWATER case. Permanent copies of copyright material not transient copies used to render web pages.

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Megaphone

Re: news for fuckheads everywhere

The article is about MELTWATER. The judgement is about permanent copies of copyright material being transmitted by email which also includes links to the full articles, but the snippets are extensive and are copyright infringing. All happening within a commercial setup. It has nothing to do with web browsing at all. That is the FUD being promulgated by MELTWATER.

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Pirate

Makes us all Pirates!

Hey, you just pirated my post.

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Coat

As I understand it, just viewing your words and making a temporary copy of them on the back on my eyeball is tantamount to a copyright violation.

This particular post is posted under a Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike License.

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WTF?

WTF?

"The act of downloading data required to view that copyright material "and any subsequent processing of that data, including processing for display, provided that it does not result in any publication elsewhere of the work or an adaptation of the work" should also be explicitly permissible"

While this article read as mostly gibberish, my interpretation is that the act of browsing a web site requires content to be copied (to your machine, processed, then dangled in front of your eyeballs). This act, apparently, is not entirely lawful without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

Firstly, WTF? Surely the act of a copyright holder putting the information on a website in order to have it visited is an implicit permission to view (view meaning copy for display, plus a few hundred cache copies). In this respect, the law needs to catch up and understand how technology works and realise that it is pretty broken without this, just as loading a program into a computer requires copies to be made (in memory).

Secondly - I can forsee an interesting backfire with regards to orphaned works, should this come about. Random newspaper uses a photo they themselves declared as an orphan work and then later gave permission for copies to be made for viewing purposes - and then along comes the genuine copyright holder who did not give permission for any of this use of their copyrighted material; yet the law would appear to be picking sides (commercial outfits would be given the ability to effectively steal content, yet a legitimate web user is potentially breaking the law by doing what web pages are there for? good god...). Car crash territory?

Thirdly - I get it, "Out-Law.com is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons" and this is probably how solicitors think. It isn't how normal people think (see various above comments), so could you please write something more easily understood? Thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't they have anything better to do? oh yeah, I forgot that political parties are merely mouthpieces for big businesses.

Arrest the real crooks, the ones who steal money, credit card details and identies!

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FAIL

My interpretation of it...

It appears that what is being said that browsing a site is in itself a breach of copyright. Even passing the URL of that site to others is.

A right minded person would undoubtedly respond that, in the same spirit, picking up a paperback in a bookshop and reading the cover notes would also amount to a similar breach of copyright, as could telling someone else that such a bookshop had the book on its shelves, and would probably suggest that's ridiculous, bollocks, etc.

The court judgement seems to be that, you'd think so, but that's not actually the case; it does amount to a breach of copyright under the applicable legislation.

If that is so then the law seems to be an ass and needs to be fixed pronto. The ridiculous thing is that the government seems disinclined to do that.

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FAIL

Stuff and nonsense

You can’t copyright a URL. You cannot copyright anything that cannot be expressed any other way - if there’s only one (or a small number) of URLs that will fetch particular content, then that URL (not the content, the URL) CANNOT be copyrighted. That’s already law with plenty of precedent (eg SEGA). Since the URL cannot be copyrighted, copying the URL (linking) is not an infringement.

As to trying to enforce copyright on something that cannot be seen (or express its copyright status) until it has been transiently copied... good luck.

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WTF?

One more reason to stop paying attention

Yeah everyone on the internet is a criminal. We know this already. Which is why most people have given up caring less about any of the stupid details within our crazy copyright laws.

I browse web pages and my browser illegally copies the content onto my PC. Sometimes I use social media to spread this content without the web master written consent. For years I have been "remembering" bits of music and clips from films without paying a penny.

Come get me.

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