Saturday, March 20, 2010

The UK Digital Economy Bill = A Dog’s Dinner

The Digital Economy Bill, looks more like a dog’s dinner every day.

We have written about the fact that IP addresses are not a safe identification of copyright infringement and that the IP owner may not be the guilty party. The issue can effect and criminalise large families, people sharing communal hubs, businesses, people providing WIFi hot spots etc. You are not innocent until proven guilty, but rather guilty until proven innocent. We have written only this week about the alarming rise of copyright legal letters being sent out in the UK and the manner of these demands. The bill proposes not only Draconian measures but could set back user confidence in their usage for a few pieces of silver.

Then there is the issue of clause 43 which enables collection agencies and parties to effectively land grab and authorises a grant of copyright in respect of works in which copyright is not owned by the body or a person on whose behalf the body acts". If this sounds very much like a an open invitation for Google to come to the UK it not surprising given the same people supporting the Google Book Settlement were consulted in this rushed law. We now potentially give the Secretary of State power to approve clause 43 applications.

We forget that publishing is a rights business without universal or common rights registry and management. This bill fails to even start to address this flaw.

Many artists, agents and ISPs have opposed the bill but have been brushed aside in the need to beat the election deadline and create a Mandleson legacy. This is a bad law being pushed through on the basis of saving the creative industry. It makes changes that potentially impose a Google Books-style scheme in the UK, re writes contracts and imposes Draconian laws on all. It is a pity that the industry bodies that should represent have once again failed to promote dialogue within the community.

We would suggest that anyone who shares our concerns visit and considers following the led of many and writing to their MPs about the act before its too late.

No comments: