Rules Consultation June 2013

The numbered entries below contain descriptions of the changes proposed in this consultation and links to the pages that contain proposed revisions to the rules.

You are invited to comment here regarding the approach taken and any areas you would like to see changed and on each linked page regarding the specific changes. On each linked page both the existing text and proposed changes in yellow are shown so that the difference can be seen without flicking between pages

  1. Broadcasting page revised to draw on work from the Recording and Broadcasting group Broadcasting will also be moved in the index so that it is next to the related subject of publishing.
  2. Recording attendance at meetings and handling joint events between Member Groups added to the Member Group Events page
  3. Expense allocation for joint events, also at
  4. Expansion of what should be included on a Member Group website (to bring in line with information needed when setting up a new group) at
  5. Friendly URLs have also been added to
  6. Late addition, a change in the chair of the New Member Group Panel has been made at

The consultation will run from Tuesday 4th June until Friday 19th July.


Attendance & Member Group website

There should be a way for members to RSVP online to the events; this lets us keep a head count and even add on guests. An online guest list that everyone can see and comment on. Emails are old school. If we can have pictures of members on the respective Member Groups, with short concise description of their role along with an email address, that would help external people looking at the site.

Rules Consultation June 2013

I was very much in agreement with the spirit of the section on broadcasting until I re-read it. Broadly I still am, but the following occured to me:

(i) Copyright: for many speakers finding the copyright owner can be extremely difficult. Consider the case of an eminent speaker describing changes in their field over a long period of time. He (or obviously she) may wish to allude to a diagram, or quote from a manual etc from a company that was taken over by another which in turn was taken over...and so on. Tracing the current owner of the copyright may be nigh on impossible for most speakers. Instead we should perhaps require that third party copyright is acknowledged by speakers wherever they are able and if it is not possible so to do then the owner of the original should be acknowledged where known, but in no case should TP copyright material be used where permission has been refused.

(ii) Defamation etc:
The Rules as currently drafted say: "Ensure that the recording does not contain any confidential, proprietary, personal, or defamatory material".

Firstly, whatever you mean - and it is not clear what you do mean - "personal" is almost certainly incorrect here. Do you mean "insulting or offensive"?

Secondly the far more thorny problem of defamation. Since (almost?) none of the MG/SG Officers are experts in defamation it should not be up to them to ensure that material to be "broadcast" is non-defamatory. Furthermore we have to remember that internet enables us to reach members across the world, or conversely to allow contributions from around the world. Some jurisdictions place far fewer restrictions on what may be said on the internet than in other broadcast or published media than others, some place far more. What constitutes defamation in various jurisdictions is beyond the reasonable competence of MG/SG officers to judge.

It is certainly not the job of an MG/SG or its officers to determine what might or might not be deemed defamatory in any jurisdiction, other than in the broadest sense. Instead any "broadcast" should carry a standard disclaimer to the effect that the views presented are the personal views and opinions of the speaker and not those held corporately by the BCS, or the individual views or opinions of its staff or other Officers (including Volunteer Officers).

Member Groups joint events: We need to avoid double-counting attendance in some way.


Thanks Peter,

You are quite right, Copyright is tricky. Unfortunately if we publish copyright material we (and the speaker) can be sued so we have to warn them. I would hope that an experianced speaker would fully understand the situation.

The reference to personal is to avoid publishing information about a person without their agreement e.g. my phone number. It runs the risk of challenge under data protection legislation in Europe.

I appreciate the problem regarding different legal jurisdictions. This section is not only intended to protect us from legal consequences but to safegard our reputation as a professional body. I can't envisage a situation where it is appropriate for a speaker to use a BCS Member Group event to attack someone.

I hope this helps

Peter Buchanan

as Chair of the Membership Board Policy Committee

Remote Working

As an SG CHairman with members from Hong Kong to the US West Coast, I feel that remote working is essential to promote accessibility for overseas members. This would help to widen BCS non-UK appeal. Even within the UK most members do not want to travel from Manchester, Bristol or Edinburgh to attend a meeting or participate in a discussion. Let alone an AGM!

Rules consultation - Broadcasting

The Committee considered
1. There is no way of people finding out what has been recorded;
2. Final clearance is necessary before publishing;
3. BCS should sign the agreement with the speaker so that BCS is also bound by the agreement.

Need for BCS to sign

If have asked Matthew Flynn (BCS staff) and he feels that "as this is an assignment of copyright form and there is no need for the recipient of the assignment to sign. As such there are no obligations on BCS to sign up to. "

Peter Buchanan (as Chair of the Membership Board Policy Committee

Rules consultation - Recording attendance at meetings

The Committee considered that the proposals were satisfactory but that the BCS booking system if it is to be used in this way should be made more "self-help" orientated and should provide better but appropriately limited access for 3rd parties working with Membership Groups to enable such 3rd parties to monitor the response. Elite frequently works with 3rd parties in setting up events so this is a matter of some concern.

Comments removed from Rules page


Non-members "joining" the BCS

This is in response to emails from Peter Buchanan, Chair, Membership Board Policy Committee. I have also replied as an email.


I continue to be confused and find no consistency in any of this.

I am not sure that "widely discussed and the weight of opinion" are empirical, or formal, methods of determining, or applying, BCS policy.

I have not had a clear definition of what constitutes "joining" an SG for a non-BCS member? If they don't pay anything how is this determined? How are they expected to abide by the Code of Conduct; the very core of our institution?

If non-Members are apparently able to "join" almost willy nilly why is it that most SGs require BCS Membership? You will find that a cursory glance at the SG websites would confirm this. Our SG, for example, the Internet SG, does not allow non-members to join either via the website or by direct contact with HQ and our committee would not want this to change. We have some 3,000 BCS Members assigned to our SG alone.

Branches, but their very nature, do not allow any mechanism or constitutional way of allowing non-members. Every BCS Member is assigned to a local branch, how are non-members dealt with?

Allowing non-members is a very slippery slope for the BCS and undermines the very integrity of our Institution and insults those that do pay and go via the proper channels to achieve membership.

The BCS website states under "Our role and purpose":

"Our Charter enables us to admit qualified members. Without our members, we would be unable to undertake many of our charitable activities to promote IT at all levels."

Allowing non-paying people to "join" would contradict this. It may even be against our Charter.


Howard Gerlis, FBCS, CITP
Chairman British Computer Society Internet Specialist Group