Digital Economy Bill is given Royal Assent

The controversial Digital Economy Bill passed through the House of Lords last night and has finally been given Royal Assent.

 

This followed a third reading in the Commons on Wednesday, which saw some considerable horse trading between the parties resulting in parts of Clause 18 – which enabled stricter new powers to block pirates – dropped, with weaker powers tacked onto Clause 8.

 

Labour MP Tom Watson, a vocal opponent of the Bill, said at the time: “We have had to submit amendments and consider our thoughts on the amendments to this Bill at lightning speed.”

 

“I feel certain that the House, straight after the election, could consider all these clauses again and give it the scrutiny it deserves.”

 

Watson’s calls for closer scrutiny were echoed by several pressure groups including Whatdebill.org, which has organised a Twitter campaign against the bill in which 4,200 people tweeted their displeasure in 12 hours. However, these calls were ignored.

 

In the same vein, a meeting at the commons last week, organised by MPs Tom Watson and John Grogan in collaboration with consumer watchdog Consumer Focus, saw several industry CEOs voice concerns. BT’s director of industrial policy Simon Milner said: “The [Digital Economy] bill was originally a balanced bill, but subsequent amendments have meant that the interests of the music industry have been too heavily considered, and other interests are not properly represented.”

 

This followed a letter-writing campaign targeting MPs that has generated 18,000 letters, and a protest outside Parliament against the passage of the bill.

 

Some commentators argue that the Digital Economy Bill’s attempts to clamp down on file sharing miss the point entirely. Mark Henshaw, head of media and entertainment for business and financial advisor Grant Thornton, said: “The fact remains that current business models for rights holders are outdated and a more profitable model is yet to be proven to work.

 

“For example, Spotify is a highly popular free music site but is reportedly yet to show a profit. Technology changes rapidly and until an innovative way of generating revenue is established, income will continue to slip through the net. It remains to be seen if the [Digital Economy] Bill will have any success in addressing this core problem.

 

“The issue is really about the commercial drivers rather than old fashioned piracy,” he added.

 

Several ISPs have opposed the bill on the grounds that it forces them to police their networks. Likely costs to the industry are estimated to be around £15m a year according to a consultation document published by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

 

In particular, Talk Talk has said it will not co-operate with the measures that will force it to police illegal file sharers, this could see it clash with industry regulator Ofcom.

 

 

Article Courtesy of Computing.co.uk

Stuart Matthews, Web Dev, fatBuzz