Digital Economy Bill

Lord Norton

Each session, some of the Bills promised in the Government’s programme begin their passage in the Lords.  Among those being introduced in the House this session is the Digital Economy Bill.  It had its Second Reading today.  The Bill itself is not massive in size – 49 clauses and three schedules – but it nonetheless covers a lot of ground: its long title encompasses eight separate purposes.   It has attracted a great deal of interest, not least because of the provisions covering online infringements of copyright.  I have been struck by the number of briefings I have received (mostly, and appropriately, by e-mail), well in excess of the number one normally receives.  It is clearly a Bill that is going to require a great deal of attention in committee.  I am just starting to examine it detail, so any comments from readers are welcome.

One aspect of the Bill that interests me is to do with its form.  Other than the final clauses that form the General clauses (45-49), every clause amends an earlier piece of legislation (mostly the Communications Act 2003), making it difficult to grasp fully the change made without going back to the earlier legislation.  It is another case where a Keeling-like schedule (showing the original legislation and how this Bill changes it) would doubtless be valuable.

79 comments for “Digital Economy Bill

  1. Jana
    31/12/2009 at 5:28 am

    Happy New Year to all!

    I am now officially sick of this Bill, and this is my last post on it. It contains suggestions for amendment (& extermination) of the copyright provisions only. It is a shame that no one has posted much on the domain name stuff, which could probably do with some scrutiny.

    The “initial obligations” phase

    There seems to be some benefit to the initial phase, in which once a possible infringement is identified by a copyright owner, it may be able to dispatch a report to the ISP [clause 4(2)] who in turn may have to notify its customer by email that it may be infringing someone else’s copyright, depending on the provisions of the code [clause 4(4)].

    However, the chief benefit must be that the account holder might just stop infringing an owner’s copyright. So, if an ISP receives a report, it should be mandatory for it to notify its customer. Further, even if the code says the ISP does not have to tell the customer in a particular instance, is the ISP assuming responsibility for its own involvement in that customer’s subsequent infringements, if it does not tell the customer?

    In cases where the code says the ISP must notify its customer, the requirements of that notice to that customer are contained in clause 4(5), and some of these seem a bit odd.

    Subsections (a), (b), & (c) look good, and are surely necessary, but information provided under subs (b) and (c) must be detailed enough to be meaningful.

    Subsection (d) the requirement to provide “information about copyright and its purpose” has the potential to annoy, especially if sent multiple times, but it might be a good idea. However, this should probably take the form of some kind of short standard form advice, maybe that OFCOM comes up with. It does not seem fair to put the ISPs to the expense of drafting notices to properly inform their customers of something outside their field of expertise.

    Given s97 CDPA88, it might be more helpful to a copyright owner’s possible subsequent action for damages to clearly inform the customer that the particular work that the complaint relates to is copyright protected, and by whom the rights are held, though this information is likely to be included in proper advice of the apparent infringement under subs (b).

    Subsection (e) states that the notification must include “advice about how to obtain lawful access to copyright works”. What can this possibly mean? Does this mean that they tell a customer who is suspected of infringing copyright in a game that they can lawfully obtaining books by going to a bookshop? Does this mean the ISP must advise its customer how to lawfully obtain all possible types of copyright material (e.g. films, music, photographs, etc), from all likely generic sources? If so that maybe okay, again very annoying, and again, it should be a standard form produced by OFCOM for the ISPs. However, if the intention is that the requirement will be satisfied by telling the customer where he can buy the offended copyright owner’s material, then the real name for this is ‘advertising’, and I have a real problem with the idea of legislating to force one private entity to advertise the goods of another free of charge.

    Also, to be meaningful, wouldn’t such advice have to contain some information about how to tell genuine online vendors from bogus ones? And how do you do that exactly? Advice under this section, that steers clear of directly advertising the products of the aggrieved copyright owner, is likely to be long and complicated, and because of that to detract from the more important message elsewhere. I don’t like this one at all, I think it should be scratched.

    Subsection (f) states that the notification must include “advice about the protection of electronic communications networks that use wireless telegraphy”. What possible point can there be providing this advice to customers who get their service down the twisted copper pair? Perhaps one could insert something to the effect that this only applies to customers using wireless connections. But does this provision really belong here at all?

    It is a fantastic idea for ISPs to advise wireless customers about protecting their networks, but why should the customer only get this advice after the horse has bolted? Maybe OFCOM again could earn its bread by providing some basic outline advice for distribution to all ISPs for their customers, maybe on a voluntary basis? The ISPs could also grab the chance to sell some kind of solution here. Finally, it is not only wireless networks that need protection, maybe all customers should be given some kind of advice relevant to their kind of connection, and operating system. Advising customers about security sounds like a great idea that does not belong here. Scratch this one too.

    Subsection (g) makes notification of “anything else that the initial obligations code requires it to include” mandatory. Clause 4(6) contains a list of the things that may go into subs (g). Some of these seem much more important to a customer being accused of copyright infringement than advice about where to buy copyright material and how to secure a computer system.

    Subsection (a) provides that the code may require the ISP to inform the customer that “information about the apparent infringement may be kept by the internet service provider”. Surely, if such information is going to be kept in any given case, the customer should be informed of it, not maybe.

    Subsection (b) provides that the code may require the ISP to inform the customer that “the copyright owner may require the provider to disclose which copyright infringement reports made by the owner to the provider relate to the subscriber”. Again, surely the customer must be told this. He should also be told what the requirements are before the copyright owner can do this.

    Subsection (c) provides that the code may require the ISP to inform the customer that “following such a disclosure, the copyright owner may apply to a court to learn the subscriber’s identity and may bring proceedings against the subscriber for copyright infringement”. Really, the customer must be told this. This is what it is supposed to be all about. Besides, this is the scary stuff that might get him to stop.

    Subsection (d) provides that the code may require the ISP to inform the customer that “the number and nature of copyright infringement relating to the subscriber may be taken into account for the purposes of any technical measures”. I am dead against these so-called technical measures, but if this stupidity is going to be made law, how can there be any question of not telling the customer this?

    Also, in appropriate cases, i.e. suspected s20 type infringements, which will likely be the majority of accusations, the customer should also be told that he may face criminal prosecution under s107(2A).

    Finally on this topic, if the aim really is to reduce online infringements, and not just to sneak up on unsuspecting suspected infringers and have their connections cut off because it is cheaper than going to court and makes a public example of one for others, the customer should surely be asked along with this initial advise and information to simply STOP infringing the owner’s copyright.

    The ISP might like to add its own stuff here based on its contract with the customer, maybe something like you have 48 hours to explain to our satisfaction how this is not an infringement, or to remove the material, etc, or you are toast. The problem of course that ISPs face in discussing the matter with the customer, is becoming a witness, or even incurring liability.

    Discussing the matter with the ISP could be a big problem for the customer too. The natural inclination of many customers faced with all this information emailed to them by the ISP, with which they have entered into a voluntary contractual relationship, will be to contact their ISP to discuss it, but the ISP is NOT their friend in this.

    It seems only just that discussions of this nature should be considered confidential. ISPs should not be able to give evidence against their customers of such conversations. Nothing I know of at Common Law covers this kind this situation, I think it would have to be done by statute, probably best as an amendment to the Communications Act 2003 (CA03), which should be included in this Bill. [Information in the ISP’s logs and so forth that might be evidence of the customer’s wrongful activity is quite different and discovery of it can be sought by either party.]

    “Technical Measures”
    I have nothing good to say about these intended provisions.

    Clause 10:
    Under clause 10 the Secretary of State (SoS) would be able to direct OFCOM to consider whether an ISP should be technical measures should be taken to limit or suspend a particular customer’s access to the internet. There are innumerable problems with this.

    Under subs (4)(b) one of the things OFCOM might be asked to assess is “the likely efficacy of a technical measure in relation to a particular type of internet access service”. This cannot be anything other than an acknowledgement that these “technical measures” will be utterly ineffective in certain circumstances. The law must be both certain and fair. To restrict the access of one subscriber because his type of connection (perhaps under a long-term contract) is amenable to it, and to do nothing about another (perhaps because he has just cancelled his month-by-month subscription) is absurd.

    Clause 11:
    Under clause 11 the SoS would be able to make an order imposing a technical obligation on ISPs either on the basis of OFCOMs assessment carried out as described in clause 10, or in view of “any other consideration”. This sounds like he can bypass the boring bits in clause 10 and any parliamentary scrutiny and do as he pleases. There is nothing here about making reference to any code, or indeed any requirement for proven wrongdoing on the part of the subscriber.

    This stuff beggars belief.

    Wasn’t it Henry VIII who once said something to the effect of: “The King stands never so high as when he stands in Parliament”? Now, there was a man with a well developed sense of irony.

    For all sorts of reasons, which have already been mentioned multiple times on this blog and elsewhere, such “technical measures” are in a technical sense largely pointless, and in a legal sense they risk imposing punishments that are arbitrary and disproportionate.

    Online infringements of copyright are still infringements of copyright. They fit in to an existing framework which provides for the punishment of serious infringements as criminal offences, and also for the recovery of damages for harm suffered following a civil action. The fact that these cases are hard for copyright owners to win is not a reason to sidestep the process in a way that could result in more serious penalties than the courts would impose in objectively more serious cases.

    There should be no requirement for an ISP to disconnect a customer except pursuant to a court order. And even putting it upon the courts to make such orders does not seem ideal.

    It might be better to let them make orders to seize the computer equipment used. This too is fraught with problems, i.e. what equipment was actually used? Or, just such equipment as they have that could do this. This is still troublesome because, unlike for cars, there is no system of registration for computer hardware, so there is not even any readily identifiable prima facie owner. This difficulty may have been the reason why someone came up with the idea of getting at the connection used, which, at least in theory, can be identified.

    A major problem here is anonymity. It is easy to set up accounts online. No identification is needed. The name attached to an account could be fictitious. This difficulty is in part recognized by the reduced requirements of notice for the initial obligations phase set out in clause 4(7). The fact that “notification” can just be emailed to the subscriber is an acknowledgement that the ISP may have no real idea who or where their customer is.

    This means that a “disconnected” customer can just set up another account, maybe in his wife’s name, or his dog’s, or he can just go pre-paid.

    The anonymity issue might be part of the reason for providing that the SoS can just order that certain accounts be shut down, perhaps this is intended to deal with people who cannot or will not be identified? Maybe some ability to shut such accounts under some circumstances might be a good thing.

    For example, where civil action by a copyright owner is genuinely frustrated by an inability to fully identify the customer – because of course proper notice requirements must obtain at this stage – despite having gone through the initial stages and received all information the ISP can provide (following a properly sought court order) concerning the customer’s identity. But this must be done transparently under clear statutory guidelines, and it must be done by the courts.

    The Bill does not address these obvious problems with enforcement, and realistically it cannot. What is the penalty for regaining internet access following disconnection at the order of the SoS?

    If this sort of thing is to be done, it should be done by the courts. Everyone is already subject to the jurisdiction of the courts to deal with contempt. Moreover, judges are traditionally reluctant to make orders that they see as unenforceable or pointless in practice, which probably makes them the ideal candidates for deciding whether any “technical measures” should be imposed. The guidelines under which they may do so should be flexible, discretionary and set out in statute. And in particular, any action taken against a customer ex-parte, should only be taken with the full scrutiny and rigor appropriate.

    No Tribunal
    The idea here is that customers against whom “technical measures” have been taken can appeal to a tribunal set up under a code (clauses 13(2)(f), 13(3)).

    Notwithstanding any ‘contributions’, a tribunal would be an inevitable cost to the taxpayer. Also, an impression of partiality might be given if a tribunal is to be funded wholly or in part by the copyright owners. The courts do not suffer from this problem.

    A tribunal must not risk being seen as sham justice, and a way for copyright owners to get around the real law of copyright, and get a result for nothing, i.e. a “win” that would be unobtainable in court.

    Another reason to let the courts deal with this part of the law of copyright as they deal with all the others parts of it is the question of interpretation. The possibility of divergence in interpretation and uneven results arising from it is alarming.

    Parts of this Bill will require interpretation too, when they become law. For example, and notwithstanding the definition in clause 16, the question of what exactly is meant by “subscriber” in various practical contexts could occupy some time. Also, any future internet related amendments necessary to the law of copyright will also require interpretation. This is best done by the courts, where the meaning can be assessed and refined over time, with the full benefit of the rule of precedent leading to certainty of results.

    Customers should be able to appeal any measures taken against them through the courts, especially any taken ex-parte. And they must have the right to have the question of whether or not they have in fact infringed copyright properly determined.

    There should be no tribunal set up separate from the courts, unless and until it has been shown that the level of civil actions being brought require the establishment of one, and this should just be to take the load off. If a tribunal is eventually set up, full and proper rights of appeal to the courts must also be allowed for in the legislation setting it up.

    Arbitration is an alternative that could be made available to the parties, but only of course by the consent of both.

    Clause 15 – Sharing of Costs
    It is not clear to me why the ISPs should bear any of the costs. Certainly they are providing the service through which the suspected infringement has been made, but they are doing so without knowledge, at least until the first infringement notice comes through. It does not seem fair to burden them with sharing costs just because they cooperate with the regime and don’t terminate their customer’s contracts, and in doing so possibly subject themselves to liability for future infringements by the same customer (see Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 (ECR02)). This is particularly so when it is anticipated that in many cases it will be the activity of the copyright owner in accessing the infringing material that generates these notices.

    The administrative costs to the ISPs will be significant, especially in the “initial obligations” phase. The ISP must deal with notices potentially from multiple owners of different copyright material that might have been infringed using their systems, and then they have to send out notices to each account holder involved, and afterwards deal with the questions and complaints from those customers. There is also the question of whether the ISP will be asked to keep information on the infringement on the basis that it is required for civil disclosure. Small ISPs may not be able to cope with the burden of “sharing” these costs, and the burden of extra work will fall disproportionately upon them notwithstanding that they will have a correspondingly lower amount of notices to deal with, because they are likely to be running a lot leaner than their larger counterparts, especially in these challenging times.

    Even if the ISP does not dump them, some customers may jump ship on receipt of their first infringement notice.

    It would not be fair to stop ISPs from amending their contracts of service to let them terminate if a customer is accused of infringing copyright.

    Clause 17 – Power of Secretary of State to amend CDPA88

    This is an amendment to the CDPA88, which would allow the Secretary of State to create new forms of civil infringement of copyright by statutory instrument to meet technological developments that have occurred or are likely to occur.

    The potentially unpredictable effects of any “technological developments” which may occur make it all the more important that amendments are well thought out and properly debated. If it is absolutely necessary that an amendment be made quickly, mechanisms already exist that can get the job done.

    The CDPA88 is already a minefield, and as such it may not be the best place for the Secretary of State to go digging in.

    This one should be scratched.

    Protecting ISPs from liability to copyright owners

    An ISP is likely to have deeper pockets than a customer accused of infringing copyright, and is much more readily identifiable. As such an ISP may be an attractive target to copyright owners frustrated in their efforts to recover against a repeat infringer.

    An amendment may be necessary to protect ISPs from civil liability in respect of infringing material they have knowledge of as a result of copyright infringement notices, and which as a result of keeping the customer on, that they are continuing to carry through their systems, or cache. A copyright owner should not be able to drag the ISP into court as a party to the infringement.

    This should probably properly be an amendment to the ECR02.

    That’s it.

    I am now going to have a beer, followed by another one…

  2. lordnorton
    07/01/2010 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks for all the detailed and informed comments. These are extremely helpful. I think this constitutes the record for the number of comments on a post on Lords of the Blog. It has taken 77 pages of A4 to print out all the comments.

    The Committee stage of the Bill has only just begun. I am now turning my attention to it. In the light of the comments, which draw out well the limitations of the Bill, I am forwarding copies to various colleagues who take a particular interest in the Bill. I am sure they will find them extremely valuable.

    You can follow the progress of the Bill at:

    http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2009-10/digitaleconomy.html

  3. 08/01/2010 at 5:03 pm

    As predicted back on 1st December 2009, this Bill is controversial enough so that it looks as if there will be little or no time and energy left for proper scrutiny of more than the first two or three, of the worst aspects of the Bill:

    Digital Economy Bill 2009 seeks to crush UK Internet Domain Registry industry with bureaucratic red tape and unfair legal costs

    http://spyblog.org.uk/2009/12/01/digital-economy-bill-seeks-to-crush-uk-internet-domain-registry-industry-with-bu.html

    The Digital Economy Bill 2009 Clauses 18 to 20 try will damage or destroy the UK domain name registration system, and perhaps that of some other countries as well:

    […]

    If this Bill passes, then there is no technical reason why the UK Domain Name Registration industry will not simply pack up and move abroad, out of the clutches of Mandelson and his cronies, or else be destroyed by competition from foreign domain name registries – precisely the opposite of what the Digital Economy Bill should be trying to achieve.

  4. Carl.H
    22/01/2010 at 6:18 pm

    I am watching at present recorded on the BBC. 3 hours 38 minutes of which I am an hour or so into.

    The Government speaks of getting subscribers to implement protection both on the PC and in the Router. Most people will put anti-virus on their PC`s but generally cheap ones, these are not alway`s adequate and any form of protection is not 100% safe. Setting the router to block certain sites requires a technical ability beyond that of the general public and of course the sites needed to be blocked would need to be updated constantly. The setup of such protections would be costly, involving in most cases a professional and yearly subscriptions. ISP`s could of course be forced to supply such but the cost to them would be enormous.

    On the subject of the Notification of infringement the Government will not state if it should be sent electronically or by post. It infers that in cost terms electronic is the preferred method, a lot of people would not receive such notifications as they tend to use online mail services such as MSN`s Hotmail or Live service and DO NOT use the ISP`s account which is not obligatory. Any notification has to be sent to the subscriber by post, the noble Lord for the Government mentioned mobile users who they may not have an address for, pay as you go users. These users when signing up for the first time have to go through the ISP and there is generally a requirement for address.

    Electronic mail can go astray, mail servers fail, spam filters filter wrongly at times or the consumer makes mistake in setup. Royal Mail, although not once what it was is far more reliable albeit slightly more costly.

    As I have stated previously most copyright infringement does not occur using peer 2 peer any longer and it seems to be this the noble Lord, Lord De Mauley refers to time and again.

    The Government benches seem extremeley confused on a lot of issues and the Bill appears a mess to interpret.

    The Government put forward at the start of the debate that routers and perhaps PC`s should block certain software or sites, as I stated this would be beyond normal capabilities of the consumer. Later when Lord De Mauley put forward to block certain sites, known as filtration as I believe Australia has introduced, the Government stated this could not and would not be done, referring in most part only to peer 2 peer filesharing. They certainly seem confused on this issue and it needs clarity.

    Peer 2 Peer sharing is not only for illegal purposes, Spotify praised just yesterday is legal and got the accolade it deserves from the Music industry.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/rorycellanjones/2010/01/music_spies_a_spotify_sunrise.html

    On the subject of Infringers lists the Government state these would NOT follow an infringer and would not contain names or addresses, simply the ISP account and details of infringement. This leaves open a door to escape any technical action by leaving your ISP before the third and final letter stating technical measures are to be implemented. The slate is then wiped clean.

    The Lords for the Government are confused and are very unsure of facts some of which seem hypocritical. I would be very unsure about any accusation they at present could make regards infringement and that is without hearing what technical measures to catch possible infringers would be foisted on ISP`s at a cost of 25% to the ISP. The noble Lords for the Government having stated that ISP`s would legally still only be seen as a conduit requiring the ISP by law to make judgement of a criminal offence based possibly on equipment they have not tested seem`s absurd. This appears to be stating the ISP is neutral yet also expecting it to legally police.

    If the ISP has knowledge of a criminal act it, of course, has a duty to act. The ISP cannot be neutral if this bill is implemented, if it has the equipment to detect crime, to not do so puts it in peril of legal action

    My noble Lord Young states that the measures used to find copyright material downloaded cannot discern legal, illegal or the type of files. He states quite clearly “Deep Packet Inspection ” will not be used so not infringe data protection. If this is so then most illegal downloads will not and cannot be found, being in compressed “Zip” or “Rar” files.

    The noble Lord Young and Davies state that Libraries and schools will not be exempt in anyway, they may however get help to block such illegal use. Education & Library institutions are exempt from copyright as in the copyright law covering education purposes.

    There appears no real technical measure from the Government to discern what maybe quite legal downloads from illegal. As I have previously stated it is not illegal to upload for backup purposes onto a server and then download at a later time. Presumably these will be picked up as illegal downloads.

    Relating to the Appeal process, the Government do not state what level of evidence will be acceptable to clear your name nor if there will be any help in technically being able to get the evidence. Having put a music CD on your computer, legally one may not keep the receipt for “x” years. Backing that up to a server which sometime later you download after your CD is ruined may result in an accusation of illegal download, however proof of your legal ownership will be difficult if not impossible.

    There may also be, as in the case of child pornography, the defence of a virus or trojan downloaded it onto your machine. This has been a successful defence in child porn cases before. NO anti-virus to my knowledge is 100% successful nor is any person immune to accidently pressing the wrong key at times, indeed as we grow older we all tend tp do it. Once on your machine these things can completely take over, your machine can become a “bot”.

    After 3 hours and 38 minutes I am convinced there is not enough technical knowledge or clear design in the Government Bill. Ultimately if it moves forward we face hikes by ISP`s in cost, hikes in professional help required for security and the professional pirates will still thwart all measures.

  5. Carl.H
    27/01/2010 at 11:08 am

    “More than 150 people have approached consumer publication Which? Computing claiming to have been wrongly targeted in crackdowns on illegal file-sharing.

    ACS:Law has sent thousands of letters to people claiming they have illegally downloaded material and offers them a chance to settle by paying around £500.

    Which? says it has been approached by some – including a 78 year-old accused of downloading pornography – who have no knowledge of the alleged offence.

    ACS:Law said its methods were accurate.”

    Full Story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8481790.stm

  6. Carl.H
    30/01/2010 at 3:23 pm

    26th January debate HoL

    Lord Treisman in his backing for Clause 17 stated Government need to keep up with tech advances in infringement. He stated giving power to the Secretary of State would advance this.

    Government proposals under the bill are dealing with peer 2 peer in the main because at present they do not have a way of dealing with what they call cyber lockers (hosting of files by commercial ventures), streaming etc.

    Technically to deal with the above would require some kind of Deep Packet Inspection which would infringe current privacy law, UK and EU.

    Giving the Secretary of State the powers the Government would like could possibly put everyones privacy at risk should he implement measures that could possibly also be in contravention of EU & UK legislation. Both BT and Virgin are, I believe, having legal action taken against them for such measures though they state the software being used in no way risks privacy as it currently doesn`t establish the IP or identity of users.

    Without doubt technology moves at a fast rate but legislation requires the scrutiny that may indeed slow it. To criminalise a proportion of society, if you are cut off from the net you will feel so, possibly in error is not the British way.

    In this debate and it`s scrutiny many fine minds have come together and no one person can state catagorically they have the answer. Please answer why the Government think the Secretary of State will have all the answers after the passing of clause 17 ?

    The internet now is a necessary part of the curriculum in education, it is also fast becoming the way the Government do business in regards the public, it is a necessary part of communication. The Government benches stating clearly they would like the letters sent electronically to infringers. It is increasingly necessary to all commercial enterprises and they rely on consumers having it.

    One lazy uncaring teenager, and that sounds like an awful lot of their species to me, could compromise the education of his/her siblings, the commercial interests of the family, the abilty to communicate with Government and industry and a whole lot more.

    One lazy uncaring teenager and one Secretary of State could cause a whole lot more damage if they alone are the truth and the power. The Law has never moved fast, nor should it, facts and witness testimony are paramount. No one man, even in the Supreme Court, should hold such powers.

    To give arbitrary measues to the Secretary of State when, and evidence is available, errors can and are made is not right.

    Technically the Secretary of State at present, and in future, may not fully understand the measures he/she may agree to. Not only in terms of this Bill but Copyright and RIPA.

    Far, far superior to the draconian measure of completely cutting off peoples internet, should repeated infringement, occur would be filtering. Australia has implemented Nation wide filtering and although it is unpopular and not a total success it will impact in the right places. I do not feel we should follow suit but it could be implemented in cases of infringement or alleged infringement until appeal.

    The industries that hold copyright and that are concerned with this bill, I believe, hold lists of sites that are infringing. The onus is then on them and the ISP`s to block these sites to any KNOWN infringer. This takes the emphasis away from Government and legislation, it could be written into ISP contracts. It also puts the emphasis firmly back in the Copyright Holders hands that they should provide proof of infringement, which can be verified by the ISP.

    This takes away the technical aspects from Government who will alway`s struggle to keep up. It removes some costs, not least in legislation. Innocents will not be compromised by having their internet cut off. It puts the onus back on the copyright holder and gives them the ability to cover ALL aspects of piracy, cyber lockers etc.

    It removes the necessity of an Internet Tzar, Secretary of State, who may use powers in conjuction with Copyright Holders to ransom the internet to the public.

    The implementation of filtering only to known infringers would I believe satisfy Lord Puttnam in that it would cut off KNOWN avenues of piracy. It could be easily written into ISP contracts. Copyright Holders would have control over their works not Government. ISP`s and holders would ensure evidence is compelling and the impact of any errors would be negligable having little effect on any innocent.

  7. Carl.H
    31/01/2010 at 4:14 pm

    ISP`s

    With regard to ISP`s who want to remain as mere conduits in law. This makes little sense, it is tantamount to the railways leasing a line to someone who wants to move illegal loads, nuclear waste etc., along it`s tracks. The railway would require the knowledge of what is to be transported.ISP`s mostly lease lines from BT unless they are cable.

    I am a site owner if I put a picture up on my site it is automatically covered by copyright law and you should ask permission to use it elsewhere. If I find my picture has been used elsewhere I can ask for the site owner to remove it, if they do not I can go to there hosting company and ask for removal. It is after all theft as covered by existing law. Hosting companies do not scream neutrality, that they are merely a conduit nor should they when they are informed of criminal activity.

    ISP`s have to accept some form of responsibility especially if an offence has been reported to them after all it is their equipment being used as part of it. ISP`s frequently put in equipment that limits bandwidth if they feel the account holder is using in excess of normal amounts. This shows that individual accounts can be routed either through software or hardware to limit them.

    If indivual accounts can be limited in terms of bandwidth it is not a huge step to also filter these accounts if necessary, if infringement is evidenced. The filtration of sites, lists from Copyright Holders, would severely limit the ability of the infringer whilst allowing normal business.

    If this is written into ISP contracts and the ISP`s financially helped by the large Copyright Holder industries to financially implement I cannot see a problem. The freedom lobby would still be able to access anysite they wish because they would not be downloading copyright material, whilst real infringers would be filtered because of evidence.

    An independent appeal panel,I think a copyright one exists, could be bought in for anyone stating innocence who had the measure taken against them. In most circumstances this would be unnecessary as innocents would not be visiting listed (infringement) sites.

    I visited 6 sites today,all forums hosting links to cyber lockers as my Lords like to call them. In 6 sites there were over 1.5 million members, albeit worldwide. There are many,many more sites like these and our youth and others will stop downloading because of a law, they will find a way around it.

    If we leave the onus with the Copyright holders,who are big business they have the ability to find these. Our ISP`s have the ability to block them to infringers.

    The ISP`s must accept responsibility or they will have it legislated upon them. If they work WITH the industries involved and the industries who state they are losing millions put up the money to make it viable I cannot see a problem or any great need for sledghammer leglislation.

    • Carl.H
      31/01/2010 at 4:17 pm

      Missed word apologies.

      “There are many,many more sites like these and our youth and others will NOT stop downloading because of a law, they will find a way around it.”

  8. Carl.H
    02/02/2010 at 3:22 pm

    Children’s Secretary Ed Balls said that being without the internet at home leaves pupils “at a disadvantage to their peers”.

    “Computers are no longer a luxury for the few, but are as essential a part of education as books, pens and paper.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8483615.stm

  9. 08/02/2010 at 1:55 pm

    Yet another Orwellian ‘Big Brother’ style Bill from this increasingly paranoid and controlling New Labour Government.

    It also smacks of coercion of Government by large media corporations. These digital content providers make billions, so it begs the question; why haven’t they developed the technology to stop copyright infringement of their goods? Their own fault I’m afraid and I for one will not be losing any sleep over it.

    I also believe this Bill is a breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence.

    Interesting times ahead.

    Peace and blessings

  10. David Stark
    16/02/2010 at 12:47 pm

    I see the JCHR has given the bill a bit of a kicking:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/16/digital_economy_human_rights/

    There’s hope yet…

  11. james
    10/04/2010 at 5:59 am

    Digital Economy Pill – http://depill.me/

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