Wednesday, 2 December 2009

More Worms and Worse Ones

Tina the Tapeworm says 'Remember, kids! Just say NO to the download deadbeats!' - Image from US Government via Wikipedia Commons - public domain Big bag of 'em. Once more Charlie Stross lays the smackdown on Minister of Truth Peter Mandelson's urgent project to protect the Free World from terrorist pirates and vainglorious noisemakers. Unlike him, I am not convinced that we have mere venal dopiness to contend with.

The nutshell version, if we are to believe the copyright bods at law firm Beachcroft LLP: the Digital Economy Bill introduces into British law the principle that publishers and agents should in future require a licence from the government - and pay cold cash every year for the privilege. With licence withdrawal or open-ended criminal sanctions for anybody deemed to have broken whatever 'codes of conduct' the Secretary of State or his lackeys deign to dream up.

The nutcase version: publication, or representation to publishers, by anybody without a Government licence to become a serious crime in the United Kingdom.

Do I think the mandarins missed this detail? Do I, Bacchus's big brass beer bong! I think that the Minister smiled angelically when this was pointed out to him, and said, "Yes, Sir Humphrey." Or, elsewise, "You might very well think that - but I could not possibly comment..."

The DEB does not yet do the whole nut. As I understand it, not all publication - in particular, no self-publication - or representation, will be covered. So individual bloggers, at least, will not need the proverbial blogging licence this go-around. Well, whoop-di-doodle do!

As I note in a previous post, bloggers who annoy anybody important will in fact be removable by a simple and automatic process for which the politicians will not be responsible at all. Only an irresponsible malcontent could even consider making a fuss about that. So liberal democracy will not be endangered thereby.

Which no doubt explains why an unpopular and scandal-ridden Government thinks that State control of publishing and extra-legal corporate gagging powers over individual households are the absolute top priority things to ram through before the next election.

An election whose conduct, I grow daily more confident, will involve no irregularities to speak of at all...

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