by MattBrown Posted on March 30, 2010 at 12:17pm
This debate and the sensitivity of it was brought to me via one of my all time great work-found friends Duncan Popham. He works diligently and enthusiastically in the Digital marketing space and has done for years. He has strong held beliefs about right and wrong and in this instance he’s absolutely on the money.
Our present government are basically trying to force through a bill in Parliament next Tuesday (the day after Easter Holiday, April 6th) the same day that Gordon Brown is planning to go and see the Queen and ask for the dissolution of Parliament. The timing is not ironic. The Labour Government are trying to sneak this Bill through as they have in the past.
The expectation is that the second reading of the Bill will take place and will be uncontested, which will effectively mean it ends up on what’s known as the “wash-up”. That is, according to the Guardian on 22nd March: the dirty process by which bills that have run out of proper parliamentary time are hurried through to royal assent via a series of backroom deals. Underhand? Labour? Surely not.
In summary the Bill follows the Digital Britain report, the final version of which was released in June 2009. In it, there are a number of recommendations with regard to broadband access, internet usage, and public service broadcasting.
In November 2009, Peter Mandelson added a recommendation to the Bill which was designed to protect digital content publishers from copyright infringement. The intention behind this recommendation was that individuals or organisations could have their broadband access rights removed if they were found to be breaking digital copyright laws.
It is this element which is causing so much consternation and it is easy to see why. Surely first the existing laws around digital copyright infringement must be discussed and some consensus must be reached as to the impact on civil rights, data protection, the law of tort, before new copyright laws can be brought in.
When Mr Mandelson added this new recommendation, the Guardian on 19th November reported:
“[The Digital Economy Bill] is expected to set out a “three strikes” policy under which people who are found to be illicitly downloading copyrighted material have their internet connections withdrawn after three warnings.
Internet service providers have warned that the scheme is unworkable and unlawful.
The proposed alteration to the Copyright Act would create a new offence of downloading material that infringes copyright laws, as well as giving new powers or rights to “protect” rights holders such as record companies and movie studios – and, controversially, conferring powers on “any person as may be specified” to help cut down online infringement of copyright.
The changes proposed seem small – but are enormously wideranging, given both the breadth of even minor copyright infringement online, where photographs and text are copied with little regard to ownership, and the complexity of ownership.”
This is serious folks. If my Mum emails me three times attaching a nice picture of her hometown which she found on the Internet, the government have the right to remove her right to access the Internet. Where’s the intent?
Anyway Duncan pointed me to 38 Degrees to put my name officially against the Bill, and I have, along with 20,000 others, and I believe that the more people sign up, the better you can sign up here: Digital Economy Bill Petition
If you can afford a small donation, 38 Degrees are trying to raise £10,000 to buy advertising space in the national press so that MPs read the groundswell of opposition, and think twice about passing the Bill, particularly as a General Election is coming soon, and these MPs will want our vote.
We donated £10 which is a small price to pay to oppose miscalculated attacks on our simple civil rights. You can donate here: Fund 38 Degrees ad campaign opposing Digital Economy Bill. They’re already at £9,963 and I’ve been assured that more funds will pay for more advertising.
This is important, and there’s something we can collectively do about it. That’s consensus. Bring it.