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FACTSHEET:

FREEDOM, CREATIVITY
& THE INTERNET
The Lib Dems oppose the war against the also be included in the international Anti-
younger generation using aggressive copyright Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, currently being
enforcement. On 14 March, the Lib Dem Spring negotiated in secret.
Conference unanimously adopted an emergency
The emergency motion
motion on Freedom, creativity and the internet
which applies the basic objectives of the party’s Lib Dems condemn:
constitution to a relatively new world which is
i) Website-blocking and disconnecting internet
now an essential part of the daily lives of 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
millions of people: the internet. infringement.
At a time when many, particularly the younger ii) The threat to the freedom, dignity and well-being
generation, are fed up with conventional politics, of individuals and businesses from the monitoring
this grassroots motion has demonstrated why the of their internet activity, the potential blocking of
Lib Dems are the only mainstream party which is their websites and the potential termination of their
democratic enough to withstand corporate internet connections, which could lead to the
lobbying. closure of internet hotspots

iii) The Digital Economy Bill for focusing on illegal


75% of UK adults think access to the
file-sharing rather than on nurturing creativity
internet should be a fundamental right
Lib Dems support:
of all people. BBC survey
a) The principle of net neutrality, through which all
Context content, sites and platforms are treated equally by
user access networks participating in the Internet.
The emergency motion was proposed by grassroots
Lib Dems in reaction to provisions in Labour’s b) The rights of creators and performers to be
Digital Economy Bill which facilitate website- rewarded for their work in a way that is fair,
blocking and internet-disconnection at the request proportionate and appropriate to the medium.
of rights holders. Such provisions would be open to
widespread anti-competitive and civil liberties Lib Dems therefore oppose excessive regulatory
attempts to monitor, control and limit internet
abuses, as the experience with the US Digital
Millennium Copyright Act illustrates. They could access or internet publication, whether at local,
also lead to the closure of wifi hotspots at internet national, European or global level.
cafés, universities and libraries. A new Lib Dem policy working group will draw up a
Leading technology companies such as Google, full policy paper on Information Technology and
related aspects of intellectual property which
Facebook, eBay, Yahoo! and British Telecom
warned that such provisions could have a chilling should, in particular, consider:
effect on the internet, freedom of expression, 1. Reform of copyright legislation to allow fair use
competition and innovation. Similar provisions may and to release from copyright protection works
"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) 3. The creation of a level playing
field between the traditional,
which are no longer available copyright-based business model
legally or whose authors cannot and alternative business models

Photo: Mike Cooper


be identified (orphan works). which may rely on personal
2. The ‘common carrier’ concept, copying and legal file-sharing.
under which internet service
Join UK Lib Dems: Save
providers would not be liable for
the Net! on Facebook
Bridget Fox, PPC Islington South & material that they may carry
Follow @ldsavenet and
Finsbury, proposing the emergency unknowingly on their networks.
motion at Lib Dem Spring Conference #debill on Twitter

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