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UK’s “slow progress” on piracy laws attacked by the music industry

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A music industry report has attacked the “slow progress” of the UK in tackling piracy. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) the delay in implementing the Digital Economy Act has meant that levels of piracy have remained high.

The report from IFPI has identified the difference anti-piracy laws have had in countries such as France where there has been a 26% drop in illegal downloads due to the introduction of anti-piracy legislation.
Under the previous Labour Government the Digital Economy Act 2010 was rushed through Parliament but implementation of the Act has been delayed due to a number of amendments.

The main provision of the act is to introduce a system of sending letters to illegal downloaders pointing out that their activities are illegal and advising on how to avoid breaching the rules. The letters would not demand payments or threaten disconnection.

Several Internet Service Providers including TalkTalk and BT have challenged the Act in court as they see the Act as unfairly compelling them to police their users.

The delay in implementing the Act has drawn much criticism from the music industry including the international president of Sony Music, Edgar Berger, who described the delay as “definitely disappointing”, and commenting that “the first notices are now planned to be out by 2013”

A spokesperson for the Department of Media, Culture and Sport stated that the Government would “continue to work with the industry” on tackling piracy. They added: “If you create a song, a film, a book, you have the right to charge people for that content. We will help people enforce that right.”

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Written by Andrew Hodges

February 10, 2012 at 11:14 am

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

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Zappos customers warned over privacy hacks

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Millions of online shoppers have been told to keep a close eye on their personal bank accounts after major fashion retailer Zappos was been hit by a cyber attack, putting the personal details of around 24 million customers at risk.

Officials claim that credit card information was not among the data stolen, but names, email addresses and other personal information may now be in the wrong hands.

Zappos, which specialises in clothing and accessories, was sold to Amazon for more than £650m in 2009. And in an email to staff sent recently, Chief Executive Tony Hsieh revealed the site has become a “victim of a cyber-attack by a criminal who gained access to parts of our internal network and systems through one of our servers in Kentucky”.

“We are co-operating with law enforcement to undergo an exhaustive investigation,” he added.

The company has reportedly written its 24 million customers following the attack, many of whom may be in the UK, asking them to choose new passwords for Zappos.com and any other sites where they may have used similar passwords.

More worryingly, “the last four digits of your credit card number (the standard information you find on receipts), and/or your cryptographically scrambled password (but not your actual password)” may have been exposed in the attack, revealed the site.

Written by Andrew Hodges

February 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

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Woman seeks legal assistance to appeal employment tribunal decision

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Care worker Sue Angold was sacked from her job at a sheltered housing block after assisting an elderly lady who had fallen. Ms Angold responded to the alarm raised by the pensioner who was soaked in urine and unable to get up to clean herself. She was dismissed by Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) because she helped her get on to the commode and wash without waiting for assistance from trained staff with a hoist.

Ms Angold was also evicted from the home she had lived in for 20 years at the Seven Acres Housing Development as it came with her job as area manager. SHP claimed she had failed to adhere to health and safety rules during the incident which took place in May 2010.

Ms Angold took a claim to the employment tribunal but lost and is now seeking the assistance of a lawyer who can act for her with legal aid to appeal the verdict. She believes that she was sacked because she had raised concerns over the management of the Partnership. She said “The woman was crying and in an awful state. In the care profession you can’t just say it’s not part of my job. I did the right thing but as a result I’ve lost my job and my home. This wasn’t an isolated incident. The management knew that, but were out to get me because I was a whistle-blower and had raised concerns about poor leadership and how residents’ needs weren’t being met.”

Written by Andrew Hodges

February 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Reed lose appeal on tax treatment

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Twelve companies forming part of the Reed Group have lost an appeal at the First Tier Tribunal over the tax treatment of travel and subsidence payments. The payments were made to staff on temporary contracts. The payments were made as salary sacrifices. The Tribunal agreed with HMRC that these should have been subject to PAYE.

A spokesperson for the Reed Group said “We are extremely disappointed with the decision taken by the tax tribunal and we will be appealing. The case raises a number of highly complex legal issues and it has taken over nine months for this decision to be reached. We would like to clarify that this is a dispute between HMRC and Reed Group, and this case does not have an impact on temporary workers past or present. There has also been no decision taken on the size of the claim, and Reed Group disputes the figure proposed by HMRC.”

One of the concepts considered in the complex case included whether the scheme was effective as a salary sacrifice arrangement. The tribunal concluded that a salary sacrifice implies a reciprocal arrangement between employer and employee. The employee must give up their salary in return for a recognisable benefit provided by the employer. The Tribunal concluded that the scheme in the case was not an effective sacrifice because the Reed Group did not offer something in return and also retained a significant amount. Also it did not qualify because employees could opt out at any time.

Written by Andrew Hodges

February 8, 2012 at 11:10 am

Potential legal action against First London

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The administrator of failed bank First London has revealed that it may take legal action against the company for transferring assets out of the company before going out of business. It is alleged that the company sold its assets at an undervalue to third parties. Its main asset First London Asset Management (FLAM) was moved into a holding company. It was then sold on to a related company, Swiss Commodity Holding.

The Administrator’s report said “My investigations reveal that all of the subsidiary investments that the company disposed of, namely FLAM, were disposed of at an undervalue and not at arm’s length and are therefore challengeable and avoidable … I have instructed my solicitors to draft proceedings against various parties.”
Meanwhile lawyers acting for the company, McFaddens, said in a statement “The assertion that the transfer of assets is null and void is denied. Our client has not been served with any formal notice by the administrator with regard to this claim. If the administrator decides to take action as described in the report then our client will defend the same vigorously. It is denied that First London Asset Management Limited was sold at ‘an undervalue and not at arm’s length’, but even if it were, it is a moot point as the transaction for the purchase of FLAM was rescinded in September 2011.”

The company had debts of over £8million before going into administration in mid 2010.

Written by Andrew Hodges

February 7, 2012 at 11:08 am

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Pension auto-enrolment delay confirmed

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SMEs concerned about meeting the upcoming deadlines for pension auto-enrolment can breathe easy after the government confirmed that the scheme has been delay until August 1 2015 at the earliest.

The extension means firms employing between 30 and 49 staff will now have to enrol staff until August 2015, with those employing fewer than 30 staff given until 1 January 2016.

Small businesses are struggling to thrive in the current economy, and the thought of increasing red tape was beginning to panic many of those who hadn’t already made dispensations for the original 2014 deadlines. As such, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) Chief Executive, Phil Orford, has welcomed the government’s extension, claiming “this temporary delay will allow small firms to now focus fully on running their business until the economy is back in firmer territory”.

“We believe this will also allow small business the extra time to plan for and subsequently implement the scheme successfully,” he added.

The level of pension contributions will also be phased in over time to help employers and individuals adjust, the government has revealed, with full contributions not necessary until 1 October 2018.

But while business groups have embraced the government’s decision, workers’ unions have been less thrilled, with TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber labelling the delay as “deeply disappointing”.

“Everyone agrees that we face a pensions crisis, with two out of three private sector workers not in any kind of workplace pension,” said Mr Barber. “(The government’s) announcement does not just hit the staff of small employers. What’s worse is that even workers auto-enrolled this year will now have to wait until the end of the staging process before they get their full contribution.”

For more on pension auto-enrolment and how it may affect your business, contact our employment experts today.

Written by Andrew Hodges

February 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

EU to pass digital ‘right to be forgotten’ law

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The European Union is set to pass new laws which will require social network sites such as Twitter or Facebook to delete details published about users if they are requested to do so. The changes will also allow consumers to insist that companies holding data about them, such as with Tesco’s Clubcard, to have this information removed.

The new rules will apply to any company offering services in an EU country but it is thought that the changes will take more than 2 years to be implemented. It is hoped that the changes will make it easier for users of sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to not only delete their details if required but also to transfer their details from one service to another. There will also be an obligation on companies to provide clear information to individuals on how their data will be used. In addition any organisation with more than 250 employees will be required to appoint a member of staff as a data protection officer.

Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner claimed that the “proposals will help build trust in online services because people will be better informed about their rights and more in control of their information”.

She added: “Today vast amounts of personal data are transferred and exchanged, across continents and around the globe in fractions of seconds”

“The protection of personal data is a fundamental right for all Europeans, but citizens do not always feel in control of their personal data.”

Written by Andrew Hodges

February 5, 2012 at 11:04 am

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