Archive for March, 2010

Digital Economy Bill - NML Comment.

The Digital Economy Bill is going to be a complete mistake.

 It is destined to fail abysmally on a number of levels – notably in that encryption software and IP address proxy systems will in any event make infringers (and their downloading) invisible and unidentifiable in any way.

 NML has examined the House of Lords Hansard debates from 15th and 16th March 2010.  It is clear that the government’s decision to force the legislation through prior to the election is misconceived and a mistake:

 We note that The Earl of Erroll says of the Bill (and we quote):

 “We should not pass legislation in this way ……no amendments will be permitted to it. The form in which the Bill leaves this place is that in which it will pass into law. It is a very dangerous way in which to pass legislation; in fact, it is unethical. As I have said before, if we were directors of a company we would probably be locked up for failing to undertake proper governance. Parliament should not behave in this way.”

 Lord Whitty said:

 “We have imposed police powers on ISPs which are reluctant to accept them. We have threatened several millions of our citizens with exclusion from the internet by administrative decree, with dubious means of identifying who was actually the perpetrator of the alleged infringement.”

 “It has landed us with a pretty much unenforceable law that will not get a penny back to the rights owners whom the legislation was intended to support.” “…this is still a bad Bill. It is bad for the digital rights holders to press their interests in this way, when there are alternatives, and it is bad for the Government to risk alienation of a very significant part of the population by enforcing these measures.”

 “Instead we have a Bill that does virtually nothing to encourage ways of bringing together the rights holders-the ISPs and lawful file-sharing operators-so that new business models could be developed. It could provide to the punters, and certainly to the casual users who are not making any money out of their copyright infringement, the ability to access cheaply, freely and flexibly through the new business models provided by those systems.

Surely that is the road that we should go down, to move from the impossibility of pursuing millions of people under these arrangements to a situation where there are lawful means of gaining access and the only people who will continue to be accused of infringement of copyright are those who are making money out of it or who are such mega-multiple-serial offenders that some punitive measures are necessary.”

 Lord Puttnam said:

 “How was it that the ISPs managed to convince the Government that they were not part of a legitimate value chain with all the responsibilities that come with it? This is what puzzles me most. I sincerely believe that it lies at the core of the problems with the Bill…”

 Baroness Miller said:

 “I have felt all the way through the Bill that there are not sufficient checks and balances to protect the consumer. In particular, when a person, an institution, an internet café or a university is accused of transgressing these rules, it will hit the individual very hard. How will they disprove the accusations? They will have to employ a computer expert to counter the argument but there will not be legal aid for this; the money will not come forth. We should have debated these issues in this House. I believe that we would have come to the conclusion that we should protect the consumer better.”

New Media Law latest news

Back to top

Copyright © 2007 New Media Law LLP
Disclaimer & Copyright notices

Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).