Browsing is the digital equivalent of reading. When you consume the content of a book, you read it. When you consume content online, you browse it.
The wide ramifications of the ruling by the Court of Appeal two days ago on July 27th in the case NLA v Meltwater & PRCA is that the temporary digital copies a browser creates when opening a website will be a breach of copyright unless a license is granted by the rights holder.
The ruling does address a lot of other copyright related issues specifically to the dispute between NLA and Meltwater & PRCA as well, but for the broader audience this aspect of the ruling is the most interesting to fully understand.
This is a classic case of turning people into offenders without informing them they’re now criminal. And you’ve all seen the results of music copyright slegehammer jobs on people. The finer detail:
The significance of this ruling is that if you live in the UK, every time you click on an internet link you must have a license for every page you open. This is the case for every link you follow on the internet, any link people send to you by email, or any link you find on Twitter or Facebook.
This ruling is strikingly different from general practice that consider temporary digital copies from browsing as transient copies facilitating the transmission of a work and therefore part of the explicit exception in the Copyright law.
This stinks, it truly does. You might point out and you’d be right, that the thing is so unworkable, so ridiculous that most net users wouldn’t have to worry.
I agree – if they’re being good boys and girls. But we at Orphans are not necessarily being good boys and girls and we have sometimes bitten the beast and made ourselves unwelcome. These are the people who, now criminalized, they can reel in whenever they care to.
Of all the things currently happening in this country politically, this is one of the most insidious. This was how the USSR did it – there were so many laws, many clashing with each other, that it was impossible to be legal. As long as you behaved yourself, you were left alone.
Stir it up a little – you’d be charged under Section Whatever, Sub-Section 4 and that was you gone. We in the UK are halfway to that stage now.
I believe, given ordinary people’s usage of the net and the workings of the usual browser, that to criminalize people over what their browser does is beyond wrong. It’s yet another example of how they intend to snuff out dissenting opinion and Orphans would be one of the targets, after they’ve dealt with Guido and the like.
In many discussions over this with people, I’ve been told again and again that it’s just a scare tactic. Yes, that’s so but as you and I well know, it’s also a Sword of Damocles, a suspended sentence.
An indirect means of control.