Tue, 10 Apr 2007

At the end of March, I wrote, for The Register, Fighting torture with copyright - Moral musos work to rule about the idea first expressed by Clive Stafford Smith for musicians to use copyright law to possibly achieve more for the human rights of many than human right laws have so far. The story has been picked up by others with a couple interesting twists.

Roger Parloff in the Legal Pad at CNN Money investigates whether torture is fair use in the context of copyright law. He takes at heart whether songwriters and music publishers can increase their income thanks to the US army as ‘[m]usic-as-torture seems to offer rare growth potential in an industry otherwise in distress’. Issues being explored include whether use of music in torture constitutes a public performance. For this entry, Parloff consulted William Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel at Google and the author of a treatise on copyright law (and of the The Patry Copyright Blog), professor Jane Ginsburg of Columbia Law School, and Fred Koenigsberg of White & Case and ASCAP's general counsel.

Guillaume Champeau on French site Ratiatum asks what if the US army was to buy the music labels? It would solve the copyright infringement issue (and the financial difficulties of some labels). If music is a weapon for war, then maybe it should belong to the army.

So far I haven't heard of any concerned musician starting a legal action against the US Government, but I did discover that the Society for Ethnomusicology issued a Position Statement on Torture in which it ‘calls for full disclosure of U.S. government-sanctioned and funded programs that design the means of delivering music as torture; condemns the use of music as an instrument of torture; and demands that the United States government and its agencies cease using music as an instrument of physical and psychological torture.’

In the same article, I also wrote about Mark Thomas' mass lone demonstrations (MLD) to undermine Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) that outlaws protests without police permission in a designated area within a 1 km straight line from the central part of Parliament Square. The day it was published happened to be the third Wednesday of March and that evening I was in Parliament Square. ‘We understand from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police that during the period 1 August 2005 to December 2006 1,379 demonstrations have taken place [in the SOCPA zone] with an authorisation’ according to the Home Office. On 2007-04-05, Mark Thomas and a group of regulars at the MLD brought 1,184 requests for demonstrations to Charing Cross police station; the demos will take place on Saturday 2007-04-21. The aim is for people to carry out 20 demos each in the SOCPA zone in one day and to get as many people as possible to do so. To participate, you have until 2007-04-15 10.30am to get your forms in. The regular MLD scheduled for the third Wednesday of the month, is on 2007-04-18 this month.

As if Section 132 was not enough of a threat to anyone who wants to be heard by his or her Member of Parliament and Lords, on 2007-05-012007-06-01 the Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House Site will be added among the new sites designated under Section 128 (offence of trespassing on designated site) of the same SOCPA. Come MayJune, attending an event in a Committee Room or meeting your MP in Portcullis House can land in you in jail for up to 51 weeks.

Morning Star

2007-04-28 EDITED TO ADD: The Morning Star picks up on the story and Michal Boncza writes The new torture, published in the 2007-04-28 edition.

2007-04-10 EDITED TO CORRECT: different documents have different start dates for the additions to S.128. It seems that June is the correct commencement date.


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