back to article MPs frozen out of super-secret copyright talks

The government has refused to give MPs access to papers on international negotiations about copyright enforcement on the internet and at national borders. Junior business minister David Lammy said he could not put documents about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in the House of Commons Library, because other …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Counterfeiting != Copyright

    Lest we forget, ACTA is a counferfeiting treaty, the people negotiation it only had authority to discuss the issue of counterfeiting, NOT COPYRIGHT, NOT IP RIGHTS.

    "The European Commission, also involved in negotiations, responded that "ACTA will not go further than the current EU regime for enforcement of intellectual property rights"."

    COUNTERFEITI *not* Copyright.

    And counterfeit goods are so rare (0.06% of trade when measured at the US border with random searches) that there is no major gain to be had by further attacking citizens.

    1. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: Counterfeiting != Copyright

      The link below shows what was discussed in ACTA negotiations in November 2009:

      http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2009/november/tradoc_145271.pdf

      The introduction states that "The intended focus is on counterfeiting and piracy activities that significantly affect commercial interests, rather than on the activities of ordinary citizens".

      However, this does not necessarily mean that the measures proposed or adopted will not be useful for enforcing copyright and "the activities of ordinary citizens". Indeed, Section 4 suggests that the measures being discussed will specifically address the online sharing of copyrighted material.

      This would be much along the same lines as RIPA. If you remember ministers claims upon introduction of RIPA, it was to be all about terrorism and not at all about spying on normal citizens - in reality, we all now know the reverse to be true.

      1. david wilson

        @JohnG

        They may well consider 'activities of ordinary citizens' to include things like giving a mate some MP3s, but to exclude people making arbitrarily large amounts of material available for anyone in the world to download.

        That would probably seem like a reasonably fair distinction, at least to anyone who isn't sharing/downloading large amounts of copyright material.

        If people were trying to address piracy *without* considering file-sharing, they'd seem likely to be completely wasting their time.

    2. arkizzle
      FAIL

      nope..

      "the people negotiation it only had authority to discuss the issue of counterfeiting, NOT COPYRIGHT, NOT IP RIGHTS."

      You're wrong. You are mistaking the lie in the description for a rule in its execution. ACTA absolutely deals with copyright, IP and ISPs.

      http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/2788

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's a game

      They are trying to place copyright infringement in the same league as counterfeiting. This means it'll be harder for politicians like Lord Lucas to take a position against copyright because they could be accused of supporting counterfeiting!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Just another example...

    ... of the contempt in which this government holds parliament and the people. Not even Charles the first was this bad and we had a bloody civil war over him.

  3. Steven Walker

    "other countries wanted to maintain secrecy."

    Huh! I wonder if the UK is one of the "other countries" The Minister should name names and tell us which countries want to keep the negotiations secret.

    1. The Original Ash
      Pirate

      vfhaasdacv

      Charles didn't have X-Factor.

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    "Which" other countries?

    Or is that a secret too?

    1. seanj

      Nope, not a secret.

      The other countries are Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal.

      Oh, and the Sovereign State Of Mandelson...

    2. John Gamble

      Some of the Other Countries

      From <http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/anti-counterfeit-trade-agreement-acta-redactions/Content?oid=1265563>

      "Since late 2007 representatives of governments from the United States, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Mexico, and Canada, among others, have been negotiating a treaty known as ACTA."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Some of the other countries

        I think JS19 meant which other countries wanted to keep it a secret. As the US is involved then anybody who is interested as to what goes on will just have to ask them as they are more inclined to make things public.

  5. irish donkey
    Thumb Down

    promote and secure an outcome in the UK's interest

    Is the UK's intrests the same intrests as the people that live in the UK or just eh people that do business in the UK.

    Open Government is Great.

    Vote for a change - Vote for change

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Horse Droppings!

    "we would like to but we've told the others we wouldn't" means "We really don't care about openness in government... at least not enough to tell others we won't sign an NDA".

    So much for the sovereignty of parliament

  7. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  8. Ian McNee
    Stop

    Can't possibly be true...

    ...let's face it David Lammy's boss is Lord of Darkness...erm...I mean Mandelson, he would never cozy-up to big business and freeze-out our democratically elected representatives! And he's part of a Labour cabinet who are so big on open government, preposterous!

  9. Steen Hive
    Thumb Down

    Dog bites man.

    "The secrecy surrounding ACTA has prompted speculation the agreement will be favourable to the music and film industries, whose lobbyists are party to the discussions."

    No shit, Sherlock!

    1. markfiend
      Black Helicopters

      Vote for change?

      As far as I can see all the major parties are just offering more of the same.

      If voting could change anything they'd ban it.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Frank Bough
          Big Brother

          PR is Horseshit

          I want my MP to be accountable to me, and the the political system forcibly devolved to the local level as much as possible. Better yet, the Boundary Commission needs to be strengthened to ensure that each parliamentary constituency is properly drawn such that there's no built-in advantage for any party. There's nothing wrong with first past the post that a little commitment and rigour wouldn't solve.

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Unfortunately, PR still produces governments with 100% of the power

          Ireland has had coalition governments for decades, but the opposition is still toothless, because once a coalition forms and agrees on a "platform", they vote for everything in the platform, and against anything the opposition might propose. In fact, there have been occasions where the government has defeated an opposition bill, only to turn around and re-introduce essentially the same bill, which is passed because it's now a government proposal.

          It really doesn't matter what form of election you use, because in the long run, politicians will convince themselves that what's good for the party is good for the country, and will vote accordingly.

          1. Rattus Rattus

            Hmm, neither thumb up or down

            is really appropriate here. Rather than "I like this post" or "I dislike this post" how can we indicate "I don't like this post but I agree with it"?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Pirate

        Vote for change

        Vote for the PIRATE PARTY!

        They are the only ones left standing for privacy and fairness.

    2. david wilson

      @RegisterFail

      >>"I'm certain the majority of the UK is not interested in ANY agreement that is formed and agreed in secret primarily amongst foreign nations whatever that agreement is."

      What???

      Surely what matters is how any agreement ends up being worded, not how it was arrived at.

      If an agreement stinks, then whatever the process, whoever was involved, and whatever they said, the agreement still stinks.

      The same logic applies if an agreement makes sense.

      Even had it been mandated in advance that every single thing said at the talks would be made public, that wouldn't do anything to stop any of the participants having been lobbied behind the scenes, or having made up their minds beforehand what kinds of agreement they wanted or would be prepared to settle for, and wouldn't seem likely to much affect any outcome.

      All it would do is move some of the decision-making and opinion-forming elsewhere.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The EFF has more...

    ...here http://www.eff.org/issues/acta, including some (but not very recently) leaked docs.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do they know the difference...

    ...between the mp3 on my iPod that I might have downloaded to the one that I ripped off the CD that I bought?

  12. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Hang on, WTF?!

    Let me get this straight?! ... "lobbyists are party to the discussions" ... but "the government has refused to give MPs access"?! ... WTF?!

    Since when has lobbyists been given such power over us all?!

    Who makes the laws?! ... Lobbyists?!

    Sounds like this law change is going to be a bloody nightmare.

    So much for open government.

    So much for a government accountable to its people.

    So in effect we have a global cabal of powerful businesses working together in secret to write their own laws, so they can create a global totalitarian copyright policing system. Oh wonderful. I can't wait. :(

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Arrogance

    We all know the Government are quite happy to ignore their electors, whilst vaguely trying to please the popular press, but surely anything affecting laws in this country should be open to either House for discussion? They have Parliamentary Privilege for just this sort of thing - to allow them to discuss anything, even if it winds up some foreign agency.

  14. DrXym Silver badge

    Don't understand the concern at all

    Governments really need to grow some balls. The music & film industry is continuously trying to erode copyright protection and they really need to get lost. It's not like either industry is especially suffering despite what they might claim, and both very simple and very effective ways to ensure more people pay for their content than just pirate - make it cheaper and easier to obtain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      @Hang On

      "Who makes the laws?! ... Lobbyists?!"

      Yes.

    2. Steve Foster
      FAIL

      There's no Fair Use in the UK!

      You might be able to demonstrate that your download was legitimate? (your CD ripping *is* illegal in the UK)

      1. Steen Hive
        FAIL

        Fail and you.

        Murder is illegal in the UK. Ripping CDs is at most unlawful. Of course, if some arsehole tried to sue me for ripping a CD, I'd very likely be up for murder in short order.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          WTF?

          Cost of life

          Interesting, so you place the value of another life at less than £7.99 then?

      2. Scotty
        Stop

        It is Legal, but a licencable activity.

        A produb licence exists for the sum of £250 to allow you to legally rip 5000 tunes per annum, with higher pricing for incremental amounts

      3. Michael Shaw
        Dead Vulture

        Civil, not Criminal

        Currently in the UK, CD ripping is a civil offense. Sony can sue you for damages. Police cannot act because it is not a criminal offence.

    3. richard 7
      Grenade

      oooo

      > Who makes the laws?! ... Lobbyists?!

      How many examples of this would you like, just not too many please as I do have some work to do.

      1. MinionZero
        Big Brother

        @richard (age) 7 and the nightmare unfolding before us...

        While its easy to glibly say Lobbyists run everything, as if its nothing much, that totally fails to highlight the incredible seriousness of that implication and this news about effectively a global cabal of powerful businesses all working together in secret to write their own laws!. This means they work to force there wishes on us via the law. That means there is nothing to stop them creating a global totalitarian copyright policing system. They get whatever they want, as they work to change the law and we cannot even be allowed to know what they are doing!. When a society isn't allowed to choose what laws it has, then that is an outright Totalitarian level of rule – yet what we are seeing is even worse!, its outright Totalitarian level of rule from outside that society!

        When our government no longer makes any pretense that they do not represent the people, and instead represents the wishes of their rich friends, then we know we are all in very serious trouble.

        But its far worse, when many of the most powerful governments all show they work together in no longer even pretending to represent their own people, but instead represent the wishes of their rich and powerful friends. At that point, we are all heading into not just very serious trouble, its very serious danger.

        What we are witnessing is the gradual formation of a ruthlessly self centered global Oligarchy. A collective group so powerful that they are completely unwilling to recognizes any limits to their authority, which makes it a global Oligarchy with Totalitarian levels of rule! (don't feel so glib now, do you richard (age) 7).

        So stop and think about that for a second or two. We are witnessing a global Totalitarian Oligarchy!. A global cabal of governments and corporations ruling us all. Their wishes, not ours. All governments not representing their own people, but instead openly representing the global cabal wishes. What the cabal chooses, we all must do. Its the law.

        That is what this news is representing! - It is that shocking! ... and technology is giving them ever more power, to make it even worse!

        That also therefore means Democracy and elections are becoming ever more meaningless not just in the UK but slowly meaningless globally!. Because as soon as you vote in another government, they immediately have to totally conform to the wishes of the global cabal of powerful governments and companies and not the wishes of the people who voted in that government. (Plus no government will stand against the cabal, as this news shows, they all want to work with them, out of their own personal greed for power). It means Democracy is now becoming meaningless in every country!. Its showing whoever we vote for its meaningless!

        Think about that, no more Democracy, no more Privacy, no more Liberty, no more Freedom, no more Decency and all this slowly becoming GLOBAL!. Soon no where to run from it all.

        I know we have been slowing getting into this nightmare for the past few years, (the x-ray scanners are just one of the latest moves towards this), but now the governments and corporations are no longer even pretending or even trying to hide their utter contempt for the vast majority of people. We do not matter. As this news shows, we are not allowed to know what the global cabal is deciding for our laws, we must simply obey.

        I seriously fear where this is heading. As the people in power grab every more money and power for themselves the more public anger and so eventual civil unrest will be generated. (Soon they will be labeling protesters as domestic extremists *shakes head*). That in turn will result in ever more Draconian laws to control and curtail people, (exactly what they are doing now), ironically creating a feedback loop, leading into even greater public anger and so even more civil unrest against the people in power. Added to that whoever we all vote for, we cannot stop what is happening, so its going to keep getting worse!. I seriously fear where this is going. It looks like its got only one end result, which is an eventual global revolution against the self centered, Narcissistic, arrogant, greedy control freaks in power worldwide, to force some fairness back into the world and to force state interference back out of all our lives. Yet the more we slide towards this nightmare the more the rulers will add ever more Draconian laws to control and curtail people (as they are doing now), its literally a feedback loop. Its horrific. The world's first global revolution could cost the lives of millions of people around the world, a death tole almost as big as some of the biggest wars in history.

        The Narcissists in power are behaving like Sociopaths taking us all into an utterly horrific global nightmare. It seems George Orwell was right about the consolidation of countries into huge power blocks of control, just as he was right about the growth of such powerful Police States.

        Reading the news these days sounds ever more like some kind of Orwellian nightmare. :(

    4. david wilson

      @AC 13:10

      >>"How do they know the difference..."

      Quite.

      That's why border officials won't be likely to care about what anyone has on their MP3 player - they can't tell what someone owns, and, as the spokesperson stated fairly clearly in the article, they have much better things to do.

  15. David Hicks
    Unhappy

    Well the americans are keeping it secret

    And we couldn't possibly break rank now could we?

    Makes me sick. All the countries are keeping the whole thing very secret. What is known is that the big IP stakeholders (the large patent holders, the movie and music businesses) are party to what's going on, but the people and even most politicians are not.

    What's likely going on is a treaty that will massively strengthen these things and introduce new penalties for cross-border infringement. It will be presented by the industries and the few political leaders that are involved as a fait accomplis and a necessary framework for continuing business.

    And it will inevitably result in more happy lawyers as the scope of IP related lawsuits gets widened massively.

    To anonymous coward - If not counterfeiting then what else is unauthorised copying? What else is duplicating someone else's patented functionality? These things can be stretched to mean whatever people want them to mean.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to say the obvious once more

    Interesting tidbit is that this is a deal between governments and... lobbyists. Since when do large organisations have the same standing as governments?

    I think it's time for us "ordinary citizens" to reconsider our willingness to be governed by parties that, contrary to what they say, clearly show they do not have our best interests in mind when they do what they do. In every step they take it clearly shows. So, do we really need them?

  17. Shinobi87
    Troll

    morons

    <rant>

    you know if all this was happening along side news like " Sony BMG in administration, Warner music shutting down simon cowel sells his house to live in a trailor, JLO so poor she has to eat super noodles for every meal" I might give a F**K but they are making crap loads of money still its stupid. they need to adapt. all the law suits and paying for morons to sit in meetings and hammer out anti pirate procedures is costing even more money! also that Zillllllllionnnnnnn dollars/pounds/euros/yen or whatever they claim to lose each year to piracy is known by everyone to be complete rubbish! why why why dont people put them in there place?

    </rant>

    1. LinkOfHyrule
      Paris Hilton

      wow....

      If the entertainment industry ever did get so hard up that "JLO so poor she has to eat super noodles for every meal" then, I wonder just what would Paris have to resort to eating?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    Sovereignty of Parliament?

    Is it just me or does this sound familiar? People treated punitively, and probably harmed economically, by foreign-imposed laws, without the cognisance or agreement of locally elected representatives, kept secret until decree and, judging from conduct to date, to be applied harshly when in effect. Does this sound anything like "Taxation without Representation"? Even though it does not involve a colony, I think there are parallels. I'm not sure what the digital equivalent of a Boston Tea Party would be, but we may end up with one sooner than the Government thinks if it keeps going in this direction.

    I would have thought it so utterly obvious that no-one, I mean no-one, could fail to see that the first priority of Government is to look after the interests of its people and not foreign trading partners and industry lobbyists, and to do so in a transparent manner with engagement invited from all members of Parliament. I do not believe it's putting too fine a point on it to say that the sovereignty of Parliament is jeopardised by these negotiations.

    1. david wilson

      @AC 13:39

      >>"Is it just me or does this sound familiar? People treated punitively, and probably harmed economically, by foreign-imposed laws,"

      *Who's* going to be harmed economically?

      Apart from people who like getting something for nothing?

      >>"I'm not sure what the digital equivalent of a Boston Tea Party would be"

      People deleting all the things they hadn't paid for, and then flouncing off to their bedrooms?

      I'm not sure how well that would work, and I don't see any possible actions generating much sympathy from non-freeloaders.

  19. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    Re: Who writes the laws

    Of course bloody lobbiests write the laws. Writing laws is expensive and time consuming. If someone volunteers to write the laws for them of course the MPs/Government/Officials will let them, particularly when they are prepared to wine and dine at the same time.

    It's like government tendering exercises. Writing those is pain too, if you can get the prefered supplier to write the tender document it's cheaper and makes it easier for them to win, that is why they are the preferred supplier.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    secrecy

    Eventually, in order to pass legislation in the UK, the precise proposals will have to become public knowledge, or would they somehow try to create legislation without MPs, parliament and the public knowing? I can't see how.

    But the worrying thing here, is that the various parties are deliberately trying to keep secret discussions on what will become new legislation, legislation that will affect us all.

    This is fundamentally wrong.

    For some reason, they don't want the public knowing what they're up to, presumably, because they don't want a big stink being kicked up and them receiving so much criticism that they're forced to change their unpopular proposals.

    So I presume what's going to happen, is the new legislation when proposed, will have to be debated in Parliament, but I suspect the Labour government (if they're still in power), will try to rush it through right at the end of a parliamentary session, using all sorts of tricks to ensure there isn't a proper debate on it, and probably invoke the Parliament act to get it through the House of Lords.

    Mark my words, there's going to be dirty tricks to get this legislation, whatever it will be, through Parliament.

    And who knows what back-handers will be given out....

    This is gonna get very, very dirty, dirtier than the airport expansion at Heathrow.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    If this were a democratic country...

    ...I'd protest.

    But we all know it's not.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: secrecy

      "and probably invoke the Parliament act to get it through the House of Lords"

      It wasn't in their manifesto so they can't use the Parliament Act. Since they're current position is that they can't publish it, it probably won't be in their next manifesto either.

      But yeah, they'll find a way if they have the time. The best we can hope for is that the treaty is published *before* they ratify it.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lobbyists

    Lobbiests have always influenced our legislation, I'm no expert but I recall one classic example which took place in 1976 where the Jewish board of deputies lobbied and sought to influence the creation of new Race Relations legislation. They were successful.

    Did money play a part? I learned the other day through a friend of mine who dated a Jewish lawyer for many years, that bribery does go on in the court rooms...he said to her "watch this", and then she actually witnessed her partner go up to a judge and hand over an envelope.

    I don't know what the nature of the case was, whether it related to an individual or corporate law.

    People can be bought. People are bought. And money plays a big part. Always has and always will

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to fear, nothing to Hide

    By the secrecy I can only assume that the UK members of this potential clusterfcuk have already signed something saying they are committed to implementing whatever the other governments agree on and they are now undertaking damage limitation (butt covering) prcoedures.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    <title>

    If they show that much contempt for the duly elected representatives of this sceptic isle, how much more do they have for the great unwashed?

    1. gerryg

      Am I missing something..

      ...it's not even particularly subtle.

    2. Ted Treen
      Big Brother

      'Sobvious...

      We're just vote-fodder every five years, financial milch cows permanently, and are being threatened with the bogeyman of Alky Ada to frighten us into submission, and a host of petty rules and jobsworths to condition us into unthinking obedience.

      I think the Hoons have forgotten that they are OUR servants - 't'aint t'other way round...

      **Never forget,

      Rebellion is the right, sometimes the duty. of every free man

  25. Richard Jukes
    Megaphone

    I DONT NEED A TITLE!

    "So in effect we have a global cabal of powerful businesses working together in secret to write their own laws, so they can create a global totalitarian copyright policing system."

    And that comes as a shock to you? Do you think thats all that they are working on?

    Its time for the Internet Revolution gentlemen, it is time to teach those penny pinching bastards that the keyboard is mightier than the nuclear bomb!

    1. david wilson

      Revolution?

      >>"Its time for the Internet Revolution gentlemen, it is time to teach those penny pinching bastards that the keyboard is mightier than the nuclear bomb!"

      By doing what?

      What liberties are you hoping to defend, and what fraction of the population (who are old enough and motivated enough to vote) do you think really do or might support you?

  26. Maurice Shakeshaft
    Happy

    Sounds like we're in a bit of bother.

    Allegedly, they wont/can't tell us (the General Public, consumers and taxpayers!) what our negotiating partners don't want us to know what they're negotiating about - but the lobbyists do get an inside track. And they claim open Government! We must trust them to come to the right decission and they'll work on our behalf to secure the best deal. They will love you in the morning and the cheque is in the post!

    I'm tempted to the view of "sack the blighters" but I know the next lot will be no better. Until we have a change in attitude a change of Government will make almost no difference.

    Time to get active.

  27. Dan 10
    Stop

    bubble bubble

    The title is the sound of my blood boiling.

    When the corporates get access to new laws that the elected MPs do not, that's it. We've lost. We live in a combination police state/sony BMG state.

    1. Nebulo

      Open Government?

      But this IS Open Government! It's wide open to any corporation who can afford to organise a lobby to influence it.

      Just not to the people they like to claim it "represents". Us.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Reading Bills

    Bills don't have to be debated, they just have to be "read", which can be to an empty chamber (other than the reader). Then there's a division (vote). If a member isn't present at the division, their vote is forfeit. Calling a division at midnight on the last sitting day of a Parliamentary session, with only a handful of members present, is a tactic sometimes used.

    People often hold up the USA as a beacon of democracy, and the movies show you packed chambers with vigorous arguments taking place, but that seldom reflects reality. I've personally seen the US Senate with one (1) senator present, there only for the purposes of reading a bill ... reading to no-one except some scribe in the corner, just to get it on record. They avoid issues with such things by avoiding the "quorum call" if the other side doesn't care, which seems to be most of the time.

    I hope Blighty doesn't descend to such depths.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Hansard?

      Surely the proceeding of Hansard record what goes on in the Chamber.

      If a bill is read then what was read has to be recorded in Hansard.

      If NuLab want to keep this quiet then they will 'read' the bill, the day PArliament is dissolved for the election.

      Then the Prince of Darkness with join Gordo as he goes to see Liz to disolve the house. But before she does sign the order, he'll say

      "Excuse me Ma'am. Would you like to sign this bill into law"

      That is done & dusted with not public debate.

      If our Gov decises not to sign up then the US will just stop trading with us full stop. The WTO can go to hell.

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        That's not how it works

        I'm not sure this is going to form a new Copyright Act or whether it will simply be incorporated into a new copyright treaty (which is the prerogative of the government and does not need any debate).

        There have to be three readings of the Bill in both the Commons and the Lords to enact an Act of Parliament. If Parliament is prorogued before the Royal Assent the bill automatically falls and has to start from scratch. There's almost no chance any new copyright bill could pass through these stages, even if both sides were in agreement, before the end of this Parliament.

        The first reading is a formality. The government minister (or occasionally a back bencher) announces that a bill on such-and-such is going to be introduced. There's rarely a vote at this point. The real chance to change things is at Second Reading. Here's where all the debate occurs. MPs can post amendments (which must be voted on) or the whole bill can be thrown out.

        The bill then goes off to committee for scrutiny (make your own jokes here). The government decides whether to accept the amendments from committee and the bill is then introduced for Third Reading. Usually this is a formality, but the amendments from committee can be voted on. However it's very restrictive and usually guillotined.

        If the bill gets to this point it then goes to the Lords for three further readings and a committee stage. The Lords can also suggest amendments or reject the bill. After which it's back to the Commons. Assuming the Lords have no objections the bill goes for Royal Assent. If the Lords have suggested amendments, the government can either choose to accept them or to reject the amendments - at which point, back to the Lords again.

        But I suspect, Mandelson's Law, which is fully supported by the Tories will be worded in such a way that any changes to copyright will become law without any public debate.

    2. OffBeatMammal

      forget politics, just follow the money

      the two party system is broken - in both the UK and US (and yes, I know the Lib Dems are a party in the UK but they're more of the ugly ginger kid who gets invited because your Mum feels bad)

      Politicians are, if not ourtight corrupt, malleable in their loyalties - there are always financial / power considerations which they find more compelling that doing their job for the genuine long term good of the country and the electorate

      Natural Resource companies want to dig somewhere - lets repeal some annoying land or animal protection legislation (never mind the next generation) or go to war. An "entertainment" conglomorate sees it's gravy train coming to an end (god forbid they'd have to innovate or be original) so secret treaties are concocted to prop them up.

      The games that our elected officials play, once elected, are shameful (and the Civil Service are, at best, complicit and, at worst, implicated) but luckily for them the public and the Fourth Estate have very limited memories (and the press are largely driven by the agendas of one of two large, politically aligned, masters) ... so come election time unless a candidate is stupid enough to be caught with an ugly hooker while his cherub like twins starve in his car on the street.... no-one remembers the harm they have done in the previous 3 and a half years.

      Is there a better way? Without a doubt. Do I have the answer? Not really... but technology surely gives us an opportunity to deliver real democratic government...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Cost him my vote...

    I think the recent turnaround in the MA electorate is a sign of the times. Things like the healthcare debate and ACTA have all been carried out behind closed doors. This flies in the face of all the open government promises we heard from Obama. I voted for him hoping for something better but in addition to prolonging the Afghan war, he has lost my vote for re-election. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  30. dave 81
    FAIL

    autocracy?

    For ffffive's Sake! This utterly corrupted labour government have to go... then if it were up to me, hang the lot of em! expect of course bLiar did away with that to save his own neck.

    1. Ocular Sinister

      And the Torries would do differently?

      I hate Labour as much as the next guy (well, maybe not as much as the people who screech LIEBOUR!!!11!! at every opportunity), but I honestly think that the Conservatives would have done the same. Same policies, but a smarter suit. A bit like Tony Blair 10 years ago, really.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        And the conclusion is...

        Don't vote Tory or Labour! To do so is the Britard mentality, either swinging back and forth in middle class suburbia (where the swinging is supposedly to be found in more than one sense of the word), or ignorantly believing that voting Labour or Tory represents the values of your "social class" and that everyone down in London is working hard to look after your best interests, even when they've actually sold you out but you were too busy watching series 50 of "Celebritards Dancing in the Jungle".

    2. John Dougald McCallum
      FAIL

      @ Dave81

      you are talking utter bollocks Blair was still at school when the death penalty was abollished he may have been in politics when it was finaly gotten rid of for even high treason (unless you are tring to say that he was ploting to invade Iraq in the early '80s) any way the death penalty is an absolute abomination.

      1. Ted Treen
        Big Brother

        @John Dougald McCallum

        "...any way the death penalty is an absolute abomination..."

        That, Old Son, depends upon on whom it is being inflicted...

  31. Luther Blissett

    On the menu

    Organized corporatist deep packet inspection - standards and data sharing - backed by fascist corrupt politicians.

    I would already be on a VPN but for the principle that hiding things is best done in plain view. This treaty will make VPN commonplace, and I for one welcome our nu VPN overlords.

  32. heystoopid
    Big Brother

    Scratches head

    You have a closed session of parliament , you are not allowed to read the document you are voting on , you are not allowed to amend it and/or change any wording , you are not even allowed to make a copy of it and you are required to make an informed decision for yourself ,and all your constituents ,

    This is not law this is total insanity worthy of 1984 and by doing so if you vote yes , you are in the end voting for the end of real Parliamentary Democracy , the return of warlords and dictators and the literal end of freedom and rights of self determination that was fought for in a trans global conflict over half a century ago ..

    Welkome to the new Corporate Era as was outlined in "Robocop" , wher the only rights you had was what the corporation permitted , no more , no less .

    Absolute Insanity in 5, 4, 3, ...........

  33. Badg3r
    Megaphone

    Well don't just talk about it

    I have sent a letter to my MP, do the same, they don't read the Register. Maybe if enough people write maybe then they'll see how angry we are and maybe they might actually do something sensible for once. But they won't know if you don't tell them

    http://www.writetothem.com/

    Use the above you don't even have to print it, they'll do it for you and send it and track it.

  34. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    Both US and UK have parliment TV channels

    Do they have an on screen count of how *many* elected representatives are *present* at any given time?

    The ability to just tune in and how many are still at it would be quite handy.

    1. James R Grinter
      FAIL

      Unfortunately...

      Whilst I would love to write to my MP, and ask him to do something about it, my MP *is* Lammy.

      (and, in the past, even when not directly responsible for the issue at hand, he's always ducked doing anything about it because of being a junior minister, minister, or because he was wanting to become one.)

  35. Kibble
    Big Brother

    We've seen this before

    It also rejected claims that ACTA will mean border guards will search digital devices for pirated material.

    "EU customs, frequently confronted with traffics of drugs, weapons or people, do neither have the time nor the legal basis to look for a couple of pirated songs on an iPod music player or laptop computer, and there is no intention to change this," the Commission said, claiming talks on border measures concerned controls on conterfeiting.

    The U.S. border patrol simply increased the number of officers at crossings, and routinely have time and the resources to clone HDs. Who do they think they are foolin'? I can see the day when the big music companies provide backup volunteer inspectors to the border control agencies as a tax saving solution to any manning shortages.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Clöar evidence that MPs have become pointless

    So, what use is an MP, no matter how elected? Anyway, by the spelling used by some of the apparently UK writers in this forum, you have adopted American spelling, context and ideas, so no doubt you want the American way.

    Re PR: I agree with the point about direct accountability: I live in a country with PR. There is no MP to whom you can write who would care. He or she represents their party anyway, no direct link to you, not even theoretically. Of course, if one does not believe one is voting for the person, just for the party, then PR is right. If you want to vote for an individual answerable to his constituents, PR is clearly the wrong way.

  37. raving angry loony

    ACTA on wikileaks

    It's a pity wikileaks is down right now, because they had the whole shebang available (well, an older version of it). ACTA is one scary bit of legislation that basically reverts us to the state of affairs that existed before 1710 and the Statute of Anne, with "Big Media" as the "London Company of Stationers". ACTA was written by big media solely for the benefit of big media, and it's getting crammed down our throats through secret negotiations that will affect us for decades at least.

    Unfortunately, I'm betting that very few people will even wince, they've been so brainwashed into believing the big media hype about "pirates" and crap like that. Doesn't help that the mainstream press is part of the problem.

    What I saw was:

    Perpetual copyright through the criminalization of DRM-circumvention.

    Makes "works for hire" rules easier, so authors no longer own copyright, the publisher does.

    The end of a growing public domain. If it was published after 1923, it'll never get there.

    The ability of companies to pull things OUT of the public domain and slap DRM (and thus "copyright") on older works.

    Elimination of "fair use" through various means.

    Elimination of many rights we currently have thanks to copyRIGHT law.

    The list goes on.

    I vote the new rules be called "copytheft".

    1. david wilson

      @raving angry loony

      That's more like it - a post about the *possible* content of an agreement, rather than the method of decision making.

      Though what was it you actually read - a recent draft of an agreement, a summary of what a particular lobbyist might want, or something else?

  38. Mike Richards Silver badge

    'Junior business minister David Lammy'

    He's just as clueless when professing to be the universities minister.

    In a heap of really shit government officials, Lammy stands out as especially bad - forget 'Blears bad' - he makes her look competent; travel far past 'Hoon bad', take the second exit at 'Blunkett bad' and you'll still need to fill up the tank to reach the particularly pointless realm inhabited by David Lammy.

  39. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    @raving angry loony

    > I vote the new rules be called "copytheft"

    Copyleft was the precursor to the Open Software GPL.

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