Friday, January 27, 2012

Beer, Sandwiches & Hypocrisy

Earlier this week a group of MPs, plus assorted followers on the right of the Conservative Party, celebrated the launch of the Trade Union Reform Campaign (TURC) with a ‘Beer and Sandwiches’ reception at the House of Commons. Top of the bill was Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (pictured below); also in attendance was former Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

It’s hard to know how seriously to take the campaign, despite its distinguished proponents – or even how seriously it takes itself. Both the ironic beer (bottled Spitfire) and sandwiches were plentiful. The speeches were brief and addressed to a room full of the already converted. The only journalist was from the Morning Star.

The TURC wants to bring an end to what it calls “taxpayer funded trade union activity”, with one of its key demands that unions should pay commercial rents for the use of public buildings. This, surprisingly, it does not apply to its own anti-union activity, making free use of the Commons’ oak-panelled (publicly owned) Jubilee Room, with not a raised eyebrow in sight.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This is All Copyrighted

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has issued a Call for Evidence as part of its follow-up to the Hargreaves Review on copyright. The submission deadline is 10 February.

It’s worth reading Stop43’s assessment of the proposals (mostly positive, but with some strong reservations) before responding. A more scabrous account can be found in The Register.

The big idea, a ‘Digital Copyright Exchange’ could be a good one, but not if it legalises the commercial use of Orphan Works or enforces an Extended Collective Licensing arrangement with no opt-out. The first is a thieves’ charter; the second, a state-sponsored seizure of creators’ intellectual property.

If you are a photographer and you want control over who uses your work, and how much they pay to do so, you should seriously consider making a submission.

If you’re wondering about the status of the wall art in the photo above – I’ve got no idea either, although I do know that the hoarding on which it is painted is not the property of the person or persons who painted it.