Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Digital Economy Bill
Even as I write this, there is a late night debate happening at the House of Commons on the Digital Economy Bill, which is being rushed through without proper scrutiny or debate. All you need to do is switch on BBC Parliament to see the small amount of MPs present.
There are many troubling aspects to this bill, most of which make record companies and movie studios happy but seem to punish collectively all Internet users. Now I am no expert on the technicalities, (you can find a great letter to Des Turner addressing the specifics here) but the biggest opposition to the bill regard the disconnection of Internet connections with no right to appeal if someone is suspected of copyright infringement (check details here), it turns ISP providers into spies on their own customers, and in general is a clampdown on internet freedom and a big stomp on the creative industries and their possibilities for new business models.
I am no advocate of piracy. I would never download a film for free and watch it at home, I understand that every cinema ticket sold, every rental of a DVD and every legal, copyright-protected viewing of a film makes sure that films get made. It makes sure cinemas stay open. It makes sure that my favorite filmmakers (from Michael Mann to Ken Loach) have a job. But at the same time, burying our heads in the sand and pretending that the way people consume entertainment isn’t changing radically would be a mistake.
I know for a fact that thousands of Brightonians, many of whom work in new media and the creative industries, have written to their MPs opposing the bill. I too oppose this bill not only for its sleazy stand on human rights, but also because I believe that the future for content providers is through the free flow of information on the internet, not the establishment of 20th century business models in a platform that will not and can not sustain them. If you want to find out more or get involved in protecting your digital rights, visit the Open Rights Group.