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Activists, artists review state of digital rights

ZDNet UK attended the first ORGCon, an Open Rights Group conference featuring panelists who discussed topics ranging from copyright to content distribution
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1 of 5 David Meyer/ZDNet

On Saturday, ZDNet UK attended the first ORGCon, a conference of the Open Rights Group that is expected to become an annual event.

About 450 people attended the event, which took place on the campus of City University in London. Panelists at the event discussed topics ranging from copyright to content distribution models and online rights activism.

This gallery contains some of the quotes of the day from activists, artists and politicians.

From left to right:

Cory Doctorow (author, blogger and digital activist), on some ISPs' desire to avoid having to police their networks but also avoid net neutrality:
"If you want to be treated as someone who's hands-off their traffic, then you'd better keep your hands off your traffic."

Dave Rowntree (Blur drummer and politician), defending British Music Rights chief and ex-Undertone Feargal Sharkey:
"He's a lot more moderate than some of the hotheads in the BPI are."

Jeff Lynn (chairman of the Coalition for a Digital Economy [Coadec]), on the Digital Economy Act's protection of the music industry against unlawful file-sharing:
"That model of distribution has been disrupted — it's going to fade. We need to encourage innovation rather than trying to protect dying models."

Obhi Chatterjee (filmmaker), on his dance musical Shyama:
"It was only made because the line of distribution could be bypassed. Allowing people to make copies is part of the business model for the film. A free version of the film is available on the website of the production company, so people can get an idea of what it is before they take the option of a paid version of the film."

John Buckman (founder of the Magnatune record label and Electronic Freedom Foundation director), on US resistance to new music distribution models:
"Spotify cannot go to America — it's simply being blocked by the rights societies and labels."

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2 of 5 David Meyer/ZDNet

Jeremie Zimmerman (left; head of the French digital rights group La Quadrature Du Net), on concessions made by governments in the negotiation of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta), a global treaty that could firm up copyright enforcement around the world:
"It's a trap. If we acknowledge any legitimacy of the final Acta text, it means some legislation will be [made] concrete. We have to be very careful of not demanding to change Acta, to make a better Acta, but to reject Acta as a whole. At all costs we need to stop Acta, not improve it."

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3 of 5 David Meyer/ZDNet

James Boyle (legal academic and founding board member of the Creative Commons), on copyright and the "incredible shrinking public domain":
"For the first time in human history you can look around the audience and say: 'All of the works produced by my contemporaries, the default setting of the law is that they are inaccessible to me'. We have made our collective culture legally unavailable to us just at the moment where we have this incredible means of dissemination. Copyright is supposed to encourage the production and dissemination of culture.

"What is to be done? One option is to ignore the law [but] I am a stodgy sort in that I don't like ideas for the continuation of our culture that rely on lawlessness. I think the basic ideas of copyright are good ones. When you give up the idea that breaking the law is wrong — which I think a generation has done — then you lose a very powerful battle. Digital lawlessness or technological work-around is not going to be a way of solving this problem.

"Very little digital lawbreaking is done in the civil disobedience tradition. People may think the law has a moral basis or none [but] I do think they in no way are civil resisters."

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4 of 5 David Meyer/ZDNet

Tom Watson MP (second from left; the most visible opponent to the Digital Economy Bill in the Commons), on the campaign against the Digital Economy Act:
"We were the pioneers of a new movement, and we will have to build this movement. The lobbyists are already back and they want more — I've seen [BPI lobbyist] Richard Mollett having cups of coffee with new MPs for the last three weeks. They want harder measures, not less measures. We need to really focus on recruiting more people to the movement.

"Some good came out of [the fight against the bill]. MPs now know that copyright is not just a producer issue, it's a consumer issue. [The government's specialists on Acta] are based in Cardiff — if it was important to ministers, they would be in the corridor next door.

"I think Jeremy Hunt is under intense pressure to enact some of the measures in the Digital Economy Bill, but because of the work you did he also knows it's a political issue, electoral issue and citizen issue."

John Grogan (right; former MP who was against the digital act), whose Selby seat was abolished for the last general election, speaking later to ZDNet UK about the numbers of those whose vote was influenced by their MP's stance on the bill:
"Fewer than 50 in any given constituency."

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5 of 5 David Meyer/ZDNet

Heather Brooke (second from right; journalist and freedom-of-information activist), on the coalition government's approach to open data:
"The rhetoric is right — the point now is that the will is certainly there to open up data. There is a real window of opportunity for people like us to get in there and open up data in next 6-12 months. If you ever thought about making a request for data, now is the time to ask for it.

"The only downside is if it costs money. If you can somehow structure your [open data] request to open up data and it doesn't cost anything — for example, if someone came along and said: 'We'll digitise this for you' — then the chance is higher."

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