This looks very interesting indeed. I could publish it as it is and send
it out to other sites. However, let me propose another strategy. We had
a campaign recently, in conjunction with the PCG and other organisations
against Tier-1 Work Permits and the IT Skills Shortage List. The
Government had been provided with data from interested parties, e.g. the
big IT consultancies which showed that there was a major skills shortage
in IT and there will be an increasing shortage in the future,
handicapping British business.
We were the first to point out that there was a dog that didn't bark in
the night here. If there really was a skills shortage, then according to
the economic laws of Supply and Demand, which the Chancellor and
Treasury must understand, the price of IT labour should have been going
up. However, it was not. It was falling - even those skills on the
Skills Shortage list.
We kept hammering away on this point, as it was unanswerable. At the
last meeting of the Skills Panel, the PCG were stunned when one-by-one
members of the skills panel said that there was currently no Skills
Shortage in IT, and that the tier-1 system should be suspended for 3
months and the IT Skills Shortage List totally cleared out.
I know for a fact that members of the IT employers' federation the CSSA
read our articles. We were thanked afterwards for our part in the
campaign by senior members of the PCG, who said that the argument we
introduced was crucial.
What I'm suggesting here is that instead of just having this one longer
article on the subject, that we should have a campaign with more
headline-grabbing shorter articles, which ram home on a consistent basis
what this EU Directive is going to cost us. You can't do very much with
just one article, except to inform people about it, as the article
quickly disappears into the archive. I am sure that people are now more
informed about patents after your article, but I would doubt if there
were too many people doing anything about it.
Here's what I would suggest. I would suggest that we should have an
initial introductory article which explains the situation. Then we
should have a series of short articles which show up each ridiculous
situation where we would be handicapped. The only way to get things done
is to keep hammering away at it (in bite-sized chunks) with headline
We send out our material to other online sites and I know what each one
likes. I can see which parts of your article that each would be
interested in publishing, but they probably wouldn't do the work to
abstract it themselves. We have to do that for them. I would suggest
articles along the lines of:-
1 Introduction to the Topic
2 EU Directive encourages Bad Coding Practices
3 US Keeps Russian in Jail Over Encryption
4 EU Directive Removes Journalist Right to Quote
5 Beatles Material Encrypted Forever
6 Music Teachers would be Banned from Playing Encrypted Music
7 EU Directive to Handicap Blind People
8 EU Directive to Make Reverse Engineering Illegal
9 US Decimating Indigineous UK Software Industry
We could also have a follow up article on your patents article called
"Britain not Joining Europeans in Patents Fight"
Single articles seldom change anything, but campaigns do. What do you
From: Niall Douglas [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, September 20, 2002 7:47 PM
To: Gerry mclaughlin
Subject: RE: NamesFacesPlaces article
On 19 Sep 2002 at 13:38, Gerry mclaughlin wrote:
> My apologies once again Niall. I hadn't realised that any links were
> I hadn't heard of the EU draft of the EU Copywright act. It sounds
> very interesting though. I'd be very happy to publish more about it,
> and help bring more attention to it. I'm also happy publishing the
> pertinent points that you pick out rather than official documents. It
> makes for a better, and nore understandable read. References to things
> like the Beatles, as in your other mail bring it home to people a bit
> I suppose what I'm asking is if you would do it again for us on this
Ok. This time, please repeat this article verbatim:
UK Implementation of the EU Copyright Directive seeks to further
restrict UK IT industry
by Niall Douglas (http://www.nedprod.com/) in association with
Following on from my last article about proposed EU Software Patents
(http://www.contractoruk.co.uk/article664.shtml), there is already a
law currently in draft form which by EU rules must be ratified by
December 2002 - it is the UK's implementation of The Copyright
Directive (2001/29/EC) which you can find at
You can submit comments until October 2002 to the UK Patent Office
which will probably be extended given the UK will probably fail to
ratify the law until Spring 2003 - unfortunately based on past
performance, the Patent Office usually ignores any comments not to
its liking. Hopefully after you have read this article, not only will
you want yourself and your MP to submit a comment, but also to be
prepared to lobby MP's to reject the bill if it goes to the Commons
in its current state.
The EU Copyright Directive (at
has been likened by many to the US's notorious Digital Millenium
Copyright Act (DMCA) which has happily locked up individual
programmers for publicly displaying big software houses'
incompetence. However, I think that goes too far - while there are
many problems with the EU directive, on the whole I believe it gives
less big sticks to companies than the US or Japanese version.
Unfortunately as you'll notice in the directive wording, a lot of the
clauses are marked optional and while the UK draft implements
everything multinationals want, almost none of the optional
protection is provided for individuals or smaller companies (like
contractors). Here's a summary of what I think are the main problems:
1. The UK draft encourages bad practice and bad engineering
The whole point of encryption is to make it hard for someone to gain
access to the encrypted data. Making it illegal to attack an
encrypted product is stupid because most programmers unfamiliar with
the difficult mathematics unintentionally implement very poor
encryption which anyone can break, but making it illegal to attack an
encrypted product simply means no one ever reports the failing for
fear of getting sued.
To encourage better engineering of encrypted products, rights should
be guaranteed to ANYONE attacking the encryption to be immune from
prosecution if they report the failing to the manufacturer at least
three months before they make it public. If the manufacturer hasn't
taken remedial action with three month's warning, they DESERVE to
have a product without any effective encryption.
We should not give incompetent & lazy companies this big stick with
which to hide their stupidity and lack of quality control. We have
enough shoddy computer software out there already.
A good example of this is the infamous Dmitri Skylarov case whereby
Adobe had him arrested when he visited the US to give a conference
because he worked for a Russian company which made a product which
easily broke Adobe's eBook encryption. Rather than improve the
encryption over the laughable attempt they put in previously, they
had him locked up where I believe he still remains. Note he was only
an employee of the company.
If the UK draft goes through as it currently is, expect the same to
start happening here.
2. The ability to quote has been removed
An essential part of existing copyright law is the ability to quote
small samples without invoking copyright libel. This is used by
authors, teachers, librarians, academics, journalists and many many
No provision for this has been supplied at all. I can see a music
teacher being unable to legally play quotes from encrypted digital
music to their class. I see no point making this illegal as there is
no technical problem in enabling say, a 30 second free quote from any
A related point is disabled people cannot make copies of digitally
encrypted content to help with their disability eg; convert an
encrypted book to Braille.
3. There is no provision to force encrypted copyrighted data to
automatically lose its encryption when it enters the public domain.
Again, there is no technical reason why encryption can't unlock
itself on a specific date or after a certain period of time (when say
it enters the public domain) using a specialised secure server on the
internet. It is highly important we encourage copyrighted items to
enter the public domain as the cream of the crop over the years tends
to become part of the national consciousness (eg; the Beatles).
Failing to do this simply means the owner of the content doesn't
bother releasing an unencrypted version on the appropriate date - or
indeed, it's possible the original copies could be lost completely.
The effects of losing creative works like this could be monumental to
our culture and society.
4. It will make reverse-engineering illegal once again, contrary to
the existing Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1998.
With this draft, no one will be permitted to reverse-engineer any
product containing or using an encryption algorithm. I seriously hope
everyone understands the ramifications of this: because now anyone
could just put an encryption algorithm into their code just to
prevent the reverse-engineering law from being effectual.
The UK software industry NEEDS the reverse engineering law to remain
competitive against the US multinationals. The US multinationals have
already decimated our indigenous computer industry and we need every
playing field tiliting device working in our favour.
We NEED a clause explicitly stating the 1998 act remains superior to
Like the upcoming software patent battle which is being mostly
instituted by US companies to smother and kill our software industry,
this is merely another plank along the same bridge. To protect our
software industry, the above points need to be addressed in the draft
before becoming law.
Other EU countries will almost certainly have the above points
addressed in so far as the EU Directive allows - hence other EU
countries with less draconian implementations will be at an even more
competitive advantage over the UK and Silicon Fen will continue to
shrink in importance.
Links on the Copyright draft (in order):
Regarding the EU Software Patents battle, you'll all no doubt be glad
to hear that the Dutch, French, German, Belgium & Swedish IT
industries are vigourously lobbying the EU to keep software patents
banned. However the UK, despite holding over 50% of the European IT
industry, has done virtually nothing.
I don't know if it's the British cultural "problem" with considering
themselves part of Europe, but what we all MUST understand is a law
which passes in Europe automatically passes here. To fail to campaign
means our industry will be further torn asunder as our American
rivals further take control of us!
Capitalism has nothing to do with fairness - it is about profit and
control. The Americans have been tilting the playing field further
and further to their advantage since the 80's. Government will not
stop them because US multinationals are rich and powerful - only OUR
direct action will change anything at all.
So, visit this page and consider doing what it says:
Links on Software patents (in order):
20th September 2002