Archive for Movies, media, music & culture

Young cartoonist of the year competition 2010

An email arrives from the Cartoon Museum:

“It’s time for the Young Cartoonist of the Year competition. There is an under-18 and under-30 category so do please enter or tell any other budding cartoonists you know.”

Sadly I am neither young nor a cartoonist, but if you are, then take a look at their website, clicking on the Learning and Events page.

Closing date is 15 November.

Anyway, it all gives me a great excuse to link to this.


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Useful insights…

An email arrives from Olly Kendall at Insight Public Affairs:

“As David Cameron and Ed Miliband prepare for their first clash tomorrow at midday, our briefing ‘30 facts for 30 minutes’ is a light-hearted look at that great British institution – Prime Ministers Questions – detailing 30 facts about the weekly political joust that you might not have known.”

My favourite of which is that Tony Blair wore the same pair of shoes to every PMQs, seeing more changes of opponent than footwear.

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Digital Economy Bill and web-blocking: the debate continues

The emergency motion to LibDem conference on ‘Freedom, creativity and the internet’ has passed its first hurdle, having been approved by our Federal Conference Committee for debate.

Although slightly shortened to meet the criteria for emergency motions, it’s added a request for a proper policy working group on the issues, which if passed means we can get a decent IT policy going forward.

Still two stages to go. Just as potential candidates have to go on the approved list, then get selected for a seat, before fighting an election, so our motion now has to get selected before conference has a chance to debate it.

That selection takes place later today, in a conference vote just before 11am. I will be pounding the streets of Islington, awaiting the verdict from Birmingham, while my colleague Julian Huppert speaks up for our motion at conference.

Last night I was up in Brum myself, promoting our motion in particular, and the idea that LibDems should stand up against authoritarianism in general, at the LibDem Voice fringe meeting. It was great to have LibDem Chief Whip Paul Burstow acknowledge the good work behind our motion, and to hear him urge conference reps to turn up and vote for it.

The centrepiece of the meeting was the launch of the new ‘Rank your MP’ site – or, as Alex Wilcock mischeviously renamed it, ‘How rank is your MP?’. It looks at how liberal or authoritarian your MP’s voting record is. In an age where traditional party political loyalties break down and people are passionate on individual issues, this is great way to help floating voters pin down where their MPs are coming from.

If our motion wins today’s vote, I’ll be coming back to Birmingham to debate it on Sunday morning. That high-speed rail link can’t come soon enough….

Earlier in the week I was debating the web-blocking bill, plus issues as diverse as hung parliaments and the future of Royal Mail, without having to leave the constituency. Not a local hustings, but the House of Comments podcast, convened by Mark Thompson of MarkReckons.

It’s yet another example of the liberating power of the internet that our panel could meet and debate from many locations on equal terms, in my case from the comfort of the Islington LibDem office. This led to an unintentional comedy moment as some of our returning canvassers were greeted by me waving a handwritten “I’m on air!” sign, and had to resort to impromptu mime.

Mark Thompson was webcasting again this week, debating the role of the internet in elections as part of the panel for a Savvy Citizens debate, which makes for interesting listening. The ‘Savvy Citizens’ initiative helps people become savvier in how they use information in today’s information society. Peers take note.

Actually our peers have been taking note and there is already some movement.

We should not underestimate the power of online campaigning to change thinking on single issues, and to mobilise groups of people on particular causes. Our emergency motion is proof of that, with LibDem campaigners all over the UK and beyond working to make it happen.

For me, campaigning on the doorstep is still as important as campaigning on the laptop, which is why I’ll be back out on the streets of N1 today. And hoping for the call to summon me back to Brum tomorrow.

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FT letter on the DE Bill

Interesting contribution to the debate from some of the major ISPs and other experts.

“The Lords have been thoughtful in their consideration of the bill to date. It is therefore bitterly disappointing that the House has allowed an amendment with obvious shortcomings to proceed without challenging its proponents to consider and address the full consequences. Put simply, blocking access as envisaged by this clause would both widely disrupt the internet in the UK and elsewhere and threaten freedom of speech and the open internet, without reducing copyright infringement as intended. To rush through such a controversial proposal at the tail end of a parliament, without any kind of consultation with consumers or industry, is very poor lawmaking.”

Read the full letter here.

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That emergency motion in full…

I’m proud to be proposing this emergency motion to Liberal Democrat Spring conference, seconded by Julian Huppert, and supported by many more!

Text of emergency motion:

Emergency motion on Freedom, creativity & the internet

Conference welcomes the stand of Liberal Democrat MEPs against web-blocking; specifically that, on 4 March 2010, Liberal Democrat MEPs helped the European Parliament to demand access to the negotiation texts of the secret, international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations, which were condemned on 22 February 2010 by the European Data Protection Supervisor for endangering internet users’ fundamental rights.

Conference however notes with concern amendment 120a to the Digital Economy Bill which allows web-blocking for alleged copyright infringement and which was passed on 3 March 2010 with the support of Liberal Democrat and Conservative peers;

Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat constitution commitment: “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 aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity.”

Conference believes that this amendment to the Digital Economy Bill

a) would alter UK copyright law in a way which would permit courts to order the blocking of websites following legal action by rights-holders

b) would be open to widespread anti-competitive and civil liberties abuses, as the experience with similar web-blocking provisions in the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act illustrates

c) could lead to the closure of internet hotspots and open wifi operated by small businesses, local councils, universities, libraries and others

d) could have a chilling effect on the internet, freedom of expression, competition and innovation as Internet Service Providers take down and/or block websites to avoid facing the costs of legal action

e) may be illegal under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and other EU law

Conference condemns

a) web-blocking and disconnecting internet connections

b) the threat to the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals and businesses from the monitoring of their internet activity, the potential blocking of their websites and the potential termination of their internet connections.

c) the Digital Economy Bill for focusing on illegal filesharing rather than on nurturing creativity and innovative business models.

Conference supports

a) the principle of net neutrality, through which the freedom of connection with any application to any party is guaranteed, except to address security threats or due to unexpected network congestion.

b) the rights of creators and performers to be rewarded for their work in a way that is fair, proportionate and appropriate to the medium.

Conference therefore opposes excessive regulatory attempts to monitor, control and limit internet access or internet publication, whether at local, national, European or global level.

Conference calls for:

1. All publicly-funded publications to be freely accessible under a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike licence.

2. Copyright legislation to allow fair use and to release from copyright protection works which are no longer available legally or whose authors cannot be identified.

3. A level playing field between the traditional, copyright-based business model and alternative business models which may rely on personal copying and legal filesharing.

If you are a LibDem Conference representative, we now need you to stir up support for the motion, firstly to get it prioritised for debate, and then to actually attend and support it in the debate.

We’ll be putting a new posting about this all on LD Voice too.

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Digital Economy Bill campaign – latest

It’s been a classic example of a week being a long time in politics.

Those who have been following this on twitter and the LibDem Voice postings and members’ forum will know where we are, but just to summarise:

– LibDem peers rightly wanted to amend the atrocious clause 17 in the Digital Economy Bill going through the Lords (Labour’s fault)
– to form a large enough block of votes do so, they had to work with the Conservatives, and got through amendment 120a (Tories’ fault)
– a number of leading LibDem campaigners are still very unhappy that this is too restrictive and at odds with our other values and policies (not our fault!)

So we
– sent an open letter to LibDem Voice and a private one to Nick
– are tabling an emergency motion to conference
– will continue to lobby our DCMS team on this important issue

To their credit the DCMS team are talking and our input has been encouraged. As I said on LDVoice, when the letter I’d co-ordinated arrived in the Leader’s office, I got a phone call thanking me: in another party I might have had a phone thrown at me!

As a key seat candidate, and a proud & loyal LibDem, I want our party conference to be a positive and upbeat event, showing our excellent manifesto policies to the electorate. An emergency motion that restates our liberal principles, and demonstrates our awareness of reality of the digital environment, will enhance this, not undermine it.

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Gentleman’s Magazine brings back memories

Delighted to see coverage of the Gentleman’s Magazine as part of a One Show piece on obituaries.

Back in 1987 I was working on the ESTC project at the British Library. At that stage ESTC stood for EighteenthCentury Short Title Catalogue, but it later expanded to be the English Short Title Catalogue (top tip, if you pick an acronym, give yourself room to grow).

My role was to research the authors, in particular to try and find dates of death. And the Gentleman’s Magazine obituaries were a key source, requiring patient study of its printed indexes. Now it’s all online.

Some of the titles we catalogued for the ESTC were very quaint (Trisolbion, anyone?). But this was the age of reason and revolution, and the works on cleaning up politics, the relationship between religion and politics and calls for free speech, strike a timeless note.

The ESTC has made the titles available to everyone online. It’s wonderful to think the books themselves are just down the road in the British Library at St Pancras. And free to access for anyone with a genuine interest.

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