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The British Labour Government has come up with “the most radical copyright proposal I’ve ever seen,” posts Boingboing. More radical than disconnecting people if they fail to toe the corporate entertainment cartel party line?Yup.Head slap, who told us about this in a Reader’s Write, wonders if it isn’t some kind of joke, quoting a cut from the post, to wit »»»Secretary of State Peter Mandelson is planning to introduce changes to the Digital Economy Bill now under debate in Parliament. These changes will give the Secretary of State (Mandelson — or his successor in the next government) the power to make “secondary legislation” (legislation that is passed without debate) to amend the provisions of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).What that means is that an unelected official would have the power to do anything without Parliamentary oversight or debate, provided it was done in the name of protecting copyright.But it’s no joke, no more than is the Three Strikes entertainment industry business plan that’ll soon become law in the UK, if Mandelson and his Big Music and Hollywood pals have their way.‘Unworkable and unlawful … ‘Beau Bo D’Or says Petey is trying to “set up biggest copyright sting in history,” linking to a Guardian article which states »»»In a letter to Harriet Harman, the leader of the house and head of the committee responsible for determining changes to such legislation, Mandelson says he is “writing to seek your urgent agreement” to changes to the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act “for the purposes of facilitating prevention or reduction of online copyright infringement”.By writing to Harman, the business secretary is seeking to get the change made through a “statutory instrument” – in effect, an update to the existing bill that the government can push through using its parliamentary majority. That can be done with the minimum of parliamentary time, which is already at a premium.The letter, which is circulating inside the government, comes as ministers prepare to publish the digital economy bill. That is expected to set out a “three strikes” policy under which people who are found to be illicitly downloading copyrighted material have their internet connections withdrawn after three warnings.Internet service providers have warned that the scheme is unworkable and unlawful.The proposed alteration to the Copyright Act would create a new offence of downloading material that infringes copyright laws, as well as giving new powers or rights to “protect” rights holders such as record companies and movie studios – and, controversially, conferring powers on “any person as may be specified” to help cut down online infringement of copyright.The changes proposed seem small – but are enormously wideranging, given both the breadth of even minor copyright infringement online, where photographs and text are copied with little regard to ownership, and the complexity of ownership.Mandelson says in his letter that he is concerned about “cyberlockers” – websites that offer users private storage spaces whose contents can be shared by passing a web link via email.“These can be used entirely legitimately, but recently rights holders have pointed to them as being used for illegal use,” Mandelson writes in the letter.But the proposal to alter the Copyright Act in this way has caused alarm within government, where some fear that an incoming Tory administration could use it to curry favour with Murdoch, head of the News International publishing group.“They’ve seen that file-sharing is essentially unpoliceable, but the net effect is that a future secretary of state could change copyright law as they see fit,” said one Labour insider.In his letter, Mandelson sets out the expected reaction from the three groups who would be affected by the changes: rights holders such as record companies, internet service providers (ISPs), and consumers.“I expect rights holders to welcome this and to support it. ISPs are likely to be neutral until it is clear what effect it will have on them in terms of costs.” Consumer groups “are likely to oppose [the move] but will see it may lead to further unquantifiable measures against infringing consumers.”“He also expects “a great deal of scrutiny” of the idea in parliament, says the story.But not worry, eh Pete? Your mates — Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music and Disney, News Corp, Time Warner, Viacom, NBC Universal and Sony Pictures — will be busily greasing wheels behind closed doors.