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Industry Focus: Digital Economy Bill becomes law

Posted in Digital, News by Generator on Tuesday 13th of April 2010

As widely predicted, the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) has become law in the ‘wash up’ period leading up to the general election.

Following two hours of debate in the House of Commons, the Government pushed the Bill through with the support of the Conservative Party, attaining a third reading and ensuring that the Bill will receive the royal assent and effectively become law.

The Government had removed the proposed clause 18, which would have enabled unprecedented power in blocking websites accused of copyright infringement without due judicial process.

Digital Brotain with Peter Mandleson

This was eventually replaced with clause 8, which actually allows the Secretary of State for Business to order the blocking of what is defined as: “a location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright".

There are some concerns that the Bill has not been granted with the appropriate level of scrutiny by being pushed through during the ‘Wash up’ period, which is the brief time remaining when a Parliament of the UK continues to sit following the announcement of a date when Parliament will be dissolved so that a general election can take place. It is generally used by a Government to tie up any loose ends and pass legislation that has sufficient cross-party support. The general election date was announced last week to be May 6th this year.

The DEB is the result of the 2009 ‘Digital Britain’ report and contains many recommendations, including a ‘graduated response’ scheme to combat digital piracy, which will see copyright infringers having their Internet connections cut off following persistent evidence and warnings. This is also regularly referred to as the ‘3 Strikes’ rule.

UK Music CEO Feargal Sharkey commented: “We acknowledge that the real work begins now - both in terms of developing a code of practice with industry partners and Ofcom, cooperating with internet service providers, and by opening up even more legitimate ways for fans to enjoy the music and creativity that they love”.

As reported by The Gen, collective trade body UK Music last week launched their ‘Liberating Creativity’ initiative to make the UK the number one music making nation and economy in the world. To download the document, go here.

Speaking for the BPI, Geoff Taylor said: "The Act's measures to reduce illegal downloading will spur on investment in new music and innovation in legal business models”.

Despite widespread support from various sectors of the Music Industry, some Internet Service Providers have already expressed resistance to the 3 strikes principle, with Talk Talk issuing a statement on their blog saying: "After the election we will resume highlighting the substantial dangers inherent in the proposals and that the hoped for benefits in legitimate sales will not materialise as file-sharers will simply switch to other undetectable methods to get content for free. In the meantime we stand by our pledges to our customers. Unless we are served with a court order we will never surrender a customer's details”.

Have your say: As music enthusiasts and / or artists do you have concerns about the DEB? Should this bill have been pushed through during the ‘wash up’ period? Is it good news for the sustainability of the industry? When do you anticipate that the ‘3 strikes’ rule will come into effect?

Comments

The act is causing widespread resentment for two reasons; it was rammed through without scrutiny and its effect will be irritating for internet users without satisfying copyright holders. A secure VPN that renders the users activity completely undetectable can be obtained for a small monthly fee and more and more people will start using one if there's any enforcement of the DEAct. Only ambulance chaser law firms are going to be happy with this act - they'll be able to send settlement demands to those users who are not tech literate enough to evade scrutiny.

I don't think the bill should have been passed through the commons in the way it was. I watched it all and it was a travesty of our system and a major blow to democracy.

The bill is badly written and badly thought out, it is unenforceable and will set the digitalbritain agenda back for many years, to protect an obsolete music industry who hasn't moved with the times. There will always be ways for creative people to make money fairly, and the internet is proving that, with filesharers being the fans who buy the songs and merchandise. This act cannot stop piracy, they will just use VPNs. All the act will do is cost taxpayers money to try to implement it. It is a total farce.