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FACTSHEET: FREEDOM, CREATIVITY & THE INTERNET

The Lib Dems oppose the war against the younger generation using aggressive copyright enforcement. On 14 March, the Lib Dem Spring Conference unanimously adopted an emergency motion on Freedom, creativity and the internet which applies the basic objectives of the party’s constitution to a relatively new world which is now an essential part of the daily lives of millions of people: the internet. At a time when many, particularly the younger generation, are fed up with conventional politics, this grassroots motion has demonstrated why the Lib Dems are the only mainstream party which is democratic enough to withstand corporate lobbying. also be included in the international AntiCounterfeiting Trade Agreement, currently being negotiated in secret. The emergency motion Lib Dems condemn: i) Website-blocking and disconnecting internet c o n n e c t i o n s a s a re s p o n s e t o c o p y r i g h t infringement. ii) The threat to the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals and businesses from the monitoring of their internet activity, the potential blocking of their websites and the potential termination of their internet connections, which could lead to the closure of internet hotspots iii) The Digital Economy Bill for focusing on illegal file-sharing rather than on nurturing creativity Lib Dems support: a) The principle of net neutrality, through which all content, sites and platforms are treated equally by user access networks participating in the Internet. b) The rights of creators and performers to be rewarded for their work in a way that is fair, proportionate and appropriate to the medium. Lib Dems therefore oppose excessive regulatory attempts to monitor, control and limit internet access or internet publication, whether at local, national, European or global level. A new Lib Dem policy working group will draw up a full policy paper on Information Technology and related aspects of intellectual property which should, in particular, consider: 1. Reform of copyright legislation to allow fair use and to release from copyright protection works

75% of UK adults think access to the internet should be a fundamental right of all people. BBC survey
Context The emergency motion was proposed by grassroots Lib Dems in reaction to provisions in Labour’s Digital Economy Bill which facilitate websiteblocking and internet-disconnection at the request of rights holders. Such provisions would be open to widespread anti-competitive and civil liberties abuses, as the experience with the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act illustrates. They could also lead to the closure of wifi hotspots at internet cafés, universities and libraries. Leading technology companies such as Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo! and British Telecom warned that such provisions could have a chilling effect on the internet, freedom of expression, competition and innovation. Similar provisions may

"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. ... We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely." Extract from the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution.

The emergency motion (contd) which are no longer available legally or whose authors cannot be identified (orphan works). 2. The ‘common carrier’ concept, under which internet service providers would not be liable for material that they may carry unknowingly on their networks.

Photo: Mike Cooper

3. The creation of a level playing field between the traditional, copyright-based business model and alternative business models which may rely on personal copying and legal file-sharing.
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Bridget Fox, PPC Islington South & Finsbury, proposing the emergency motion at Lib Dem Spring Conference

EVIDENCE BACKING THE LIB DEMS’ PRO-NET-FREEDOM APPROACH The Adelphi Charter on creativity, innovation and intellectual property “... Creativity and investment should be recognised and rewarded. The purpose of intellectual property law (such as copyright and patents) should be, now as it was in the past, to ensure both the sharing of knowledge and the rewarding of innovation. The expansion in the law’s breadth, scope and term over the last 30 years has resulted in an intellectual property regime which is radically out of line with modern technological, economic and social trends. This disconnect threatens the chain of creativity and innovation on which we and future generations depend.” The Charter sets out 9 principles to be followed by governments and the international community to address this concern. - Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, October 2005 The creative economy requires intellectual property rights that balance revenue generation for creators and investors with the freedom to take inspiration from earlier creativity. - British Screen Advisory Council working group report on The fall and rise of rights in a web world, May 2009 Weaker copyright has benefitted society by encouraging creativity. - Harvard Business School working paper File Sharing and Copyright, June 2009 Illegal file-sharers spend almost double on legitimate downloads compared to law-abiding people. - Demos Digital music survey, November 2009 French ‘three strikes’ law increases overall level of copyright infringement - University of Rennes, March 2010 If new legislation made it dangerous to use P2P services,  80% of 18-34-year-olds in the UK would switch to using methods which are undetectable. - TalkTalk, March 2010 A closer look at the economics behind claims that the music industry is losing billions and millions of jobs are at risk because of ‘piracy’. - Techdirt, March 2010 AUDIOVISUAL RESOURCES Actor, writer & filmmaker Stephen Fry talks about aggressive copyright enforcement and consumers (8 minutes). Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig says Internet is Freedom and warns of ‘war against our kids’ (37 minutes). In a similar, shorter talk on Laws that choke creativity, he calls for a common sense approach (18 minutes). Dan Bull’s Dear Mandy, an open musical letter to Lord Mandelson (4 minutes). Science fiction novelist and blogger Cory Doctorow argues that the Internet is too central to our lives to be taken away for accusations of copyright infringement (7 minutes). Follow/post the latest developments on the Wall of the UK Lib Dems: Save the Net! Facebook fan page B Published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence (UK: England and Wales/v2.0) by UK Lib Dems: Save the Net!, March 2010