Lib Dems split over copyright clampdown
A group of 25 Liberal Democrat candidates has penned an open letter urging the party to rethink its bid to cut off sites accused of copyright infringement.
The Lib Dems’ Lord Clement Jones successfully tabled an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill which would give courts the power to force ISPs to block sites accused of copyright infringement. The policy has been attacked as “dangerous” by civil liberties campaigners, who fear it swings the balance of power in favour of copyright holders and could harm free speech.
Now 25 prospective Liberal Democrat candidates have banded together to oppose the amendment.
Giving the power to block whole sites, in the world of user-generated content, is both draconian and unworkable
“Giving the power to block whole sites, in the world of user-generated content, is both draconian and unworkable,” the letter states.
“Using the courts runs the same risk as the libel laws, of empowering the rich and well-connected to close down comment from those who may have right on their side, but cannot afford to contest cases.
“By encouraging self-censorship to avoid possible penalty, this legislation could act perniciously against free speech in a free society.
“We fear that these amendments take a public position that is at odds with our party’s values, our other policies, and the reality of the digital environment.”
The letter concludes by urging the Lib Dem Lords and MPs to rethink the policy.
Although the amendment has been successfully passed in the Lords, it still has to be voted through the Commons, before making it into the final bill.