bit-gamer.net

Act Now: The Digital Economy Bill Petition

Posted on 17th Mar 2010 at 15:57 by Joe Martin with 53 comments

Joe Martin
This is a really quick blog post and it's one which is only really going to be relevant to our readers in the UK, but it's still something everyone should be aware of.

Basically, the UK government is in the process of passing a bill which would regulate how UK residents might be able to use the internet. It's called the Digital Economy Bill and you don't need to take a very close look at it to see that it's full of problems - not least of which is the hazy language and poorly defined punishments suggested for alleged illegal downloaders within the UK.

Here's an example. The bill proposes that if you download illegal, copyright infringing files then your internet will be cut off. How do the government know you are downloading illegal files? Because your ISP will be obligated to monitor everything you access and download, then share it with copyright holders. Clever people could probably find a way to avoid detection, but that only complicates things.

As RockPaperShotgun (who finally provoked me into writing about it) also point out, the bill is being pushed through parliament too quickly because of the impending general election. It's hazy definitions would then allow the government to decide what constitutes filesharing exactly and to define what the responsibilities of ISPs and copyright holders would be after the bill has passed.

Act Now: The Digital Economy Bill Petition Digital Economy Bill Petition

That's not just silly, it's completely wrong.

Don't misunderstand me (and bit-tech/CustomPC). Everyone in the office is totally against copyright infringement. I work daily alongside people who are affected by game piracy and we've had our own content pilfered by others in the past too. I know that eventually steps must be taken to try and change the situation - but it's important not to rush into things just because the country is in a tight spot financially and the entertainment industry is getting all huffy.

If you feel the same then there are things you can do. You can educate yourself - RPS point to this nice little summary from GameLaw and I'll add in the official parliament website, which monitors the progress of the bill through government.

You can also petition against the bill via your local MP. There's a quick online petition at 38Degrees that automatically finds the right person for you to nag and lets you send them a letter. That's what I've done and it's what I'd suggest you all do too - that, and let me know your thoughts in the forums, naturally.

53 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
bodkin 17th March 2010, 17:15 Quote
Just send a email to my local MP
CardJoe 17th March 2010, 17:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bodkin
Just send a email to my local MP

No, do it yourself :p

I'm guessing you meant 'sent', not 'send', but I couldn't resist
bodkin 17th March 2010, 17:28 Quote
Lol, ment sent, here is the reply (fast!)

Just a note to let you know I really do not believe there will be enough time to do so before the election.

Kind regards

Geraldine Smith

To put this into context, my email asked for it not to rushed in before the next election
Psytek 17th March 2010, 17:40 Quote
You posted this article after the bill got passed...
bodkin 17th March 2010, 17:51 Quote
Its not been passed by both houses and signed into law, has it?
tripwired 17th March 2010, 17:58 Quote
Are all the major political parties in favour of this law?!
CardJoe 17th March 2010, 18:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Psytek
You posted this article after the bill got passed...

No, we didn't. If you check the official Parliament website (which is linked in the article) then you'll see it's only just had it's first reading.
steveo_mcg 17th March 2010, 18:54 Quote
Sent. To The Chancellor of the Exchequer no less, doubt it'll make abit of difference.
smc8788 17th March 2010, 19:15 Quote
I started typing out a personal letter instead of using the template on the site, but gave up after about 2 paragraphs when I realised Mr. Huhne probably wouldn't read it anyway, and even if he did it would make little difference. He's probably got his work experience employee sifting through his inbox now to find the e-mails that are actually worth reading.
mjm25 17th March 2010, 19:41 Quote
sent email, Damien Green is usually not too much of a dick so it should be all good (living in Ashford in Kent btw) that 38 degrees site is super useful, saves a lot of hassle.
Ryu_ookami 17th March 2010, 19:44 Quote
Email sent
Flibblebot 17th March 2010, 20:32 Quote
Sent, but my MP is a Plaid Cymru member, so he has even less power than a LibDem MP :(
It'll be interesting if I get a response.
Sleepstreamer 17th March 2010, 20:55 Quote
Sony BMGs bribery department's been busy I see. Well, best of luck to all you brits...
WildThing 17th March 2010, 21:03 Quote
Thanks for the heads-up Joe. Email sent.
zimbloggy 17th March 2010, 22:00 Quote
I don't live in the U.K., but that's pretty bad. I really don't think that politicians really understand the internet...

"the internet is a series of tubes"
flibblesan 17th March 2010, 22:12 Quote
Email sent to John Heppell MP
Psytek 17th March 2010, 22:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Quote:
Originally Posted by Psytek
You posted this article after the bill got passed...

No, we didn't. If you check the official Parliament website (which is linked in the article) then you'll see it's only just had it's first reading.


It's been read three times.
flibblesan 17th March 2010, 22:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Psytek
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Quote:
Originally Posted by Psytek
You posted this article after the bill got passed...

No, we didn't. If you check the official Parliament website (which is linked in the article) then you'll see it's only just had it's first reading.


It's been read three times.

In the House of Lords, yes. But it has been read only once in the House of Commons.
brave758 17th March 2010, 22:46 Quote
Sent. Every vote counts
Rapp 17th March 2010, 22:53 Quote
sent to my MP and made the girlfriend do it to
cool_dude 17th March 2010, 23:19 Quote
done. bit-tech should make it front page, with adverts too. lol :D
Skiddywinks 17th March 2010, 23:52 Quote
David Hanson emailed me back pretty quick to be fair.

Still, the reply was, in it's entirety, "Thanks- I will look at and get back to you soon "

Not much faith if I'm honest.
g3n3tiX 17th March 2010, 23:54 Quote
Well, reminds me a wee bit of Hadopi, doesn't it ?
Krikkit 18th March 2010, 00:26 Quote
Sent. Fingers crossed they'll listen.

One thing to note is that if you leave it as a stock email you are highly likely to have it deleted as a simple chain letter. If you re-write it, whilst maintaining the sentiment, they are near-guaranteed to read it. ;)
ffjason 18th March 2010, 00:36 Quote
Done and done,

I love this video (on the subject):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_P4lJD_OPI

Very funny!
digitaldave 18th March 2010, 01:00 Quote
sent, mandy is the dodgiest politician the UK has ever known, twice forced to resign over fraudulent claims for his morgtage or insurance fraud, now sticking his nose in things he doesnt understand.

labour are unfit for purpose.
Akkatha 18th March 2010, 03:17 Quote
Sent.

I full believe that piracy can hurt the media industries, however, the hardcore pirates will easily find a way around things and this bill seems far too roughly thrown together for my liking.

My worry is that the politicians putting this bill through wont properly understand what it means. They'll just be told by the media execs that 'piracy is bad, millions of lost sales' etc etc and pass it through without actually questioning it.

Fingers crossed some more companies speak out about it. Policy is supposed to be for the people, not for the corporations.
Elton 18th March 2010, 03:26 Quote
I really feel sorry for you brits..
1ad7 18th March 2010, 04:03 Quote
Damn, dont worry us Yankees are right behind you!
Cyberpower-UK 18th March 2010, 10:11 Quote
http://www.openrightsgroup.org/blog/2010/well-done-lib-dems

Apparently the Lib-Dems are opposing it so if you have an MP from Team Yellow it's definitely worth giving them a nudge and letting them know they'd have your support at the General Election if they are willing to stand up for us.
Abhorsen 18th March 2010, 10:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tripwired
Are all the major political parties in favour of this law?!

No, the Lib Dems are against the most of it.

http://www.libdems.org.uk/policy_motions_detail.aspx?title=Emergency_Motion:_Freedom,_Creativity_and_the_Internet_-_carried&pPK=e22de4e4-eebf-41b6-b671-11669fe9c81d
whisperwolf 18th March 2010, 10:36 Quote
hmmm email sent, however considering my MP is some twonk called Gordon Brown, I'm not hopeful.
Abhorsen 18th March 2010, 11:09 Quote
Dear Scott Parkin

Thank you for your recent email concerning the Digital economy bill.

Angela would like to take up your case however, due to strict parliamentary protocol she needs a copy of your address before she can take up any action on your behalf. Could I therefore please ask for your address?

Yours Sincerely

James Chadwick
Office of Angela Smith MP for Sheffield Hillsborough

Is this bullsh1t and she wants to come round and say hello?
steveo_mcg 18th March 2010, 11:44 Quote
Nope, MP's can only act on behalf of there constituents so they need your address to confirm that.

Course Mandys constituents seem to include Sony et al by that logic....
whisperwolf 18th March 2010, 13:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Nope, MP's can only act on behalf of there constituents so they need your address to confirm that.

Course Mandys constituents seem to include Sony et al by that logic....

See this actually annoys me he's not even an elected MP so how come he's making policy decisions. The git should either stand for election and drop the lordship of just sod off.
Farfalho 19th March 2010, 00:16 Quote
I would gladly help but I'm no UK resident, still I'm rooting for the bill to fail
PegasusM 19th March 2010, 01:59 Quote
email sent. Looks like the internet will be voting Lib Dem. At least I hope so.
Cyberpower-UK 19th March 2010, 11:14 Quote
if they played their cards right with this then the Lib Dems could win over a large portion of non-voters and floating voters. They'll probably drop the ball as usual though, I mean playing for second place isn't really playing is it?
PegasusM 19th March 2010, 11:43 Quote
I received a reply from my MP, thought others may be interested to see the reply:

Dear Mr _,
Thank you for contacting me about the Digital Economy Bill.
For nearly twelve years, the Government has neglected this crucial area of our economy. I believe a huge amount needs to be done to give the UK a modern regulatory environment for the digital and creative industries. Whilst we welcome aspects of the bill there are, however, other areas of great concern to me.
Conservatives want to make sure that Britain has the most favourable intellectual framework in the world for innovators, digital content creators and high tech businesses. We recognise the need to tackle digital piracy and make it possible for people to buy and sell digital intellectual property online. However, it is vital that any anti-piracy measures promote new business models rather than holding innovation back. This must not be about propping up existing business models but creating an environment that allows new ones to develop. That is why we were opposed to the original clause 17 and are still opposed to clause 29 which props up ITV regional news with BBC Licence Fee payers money.
The Government’s failure to introduce the Bill until the eleventh hour of this Parliament has given rise to considerable concern from people such as yourself that we no longer have the time to scrutinise the many controversial and detailed measures outlined in their proposals and I fully appreciate these concerns. However in certain areas, including measures to allow website blocking in certain carefully proscribed circumstances, there has been substantial debate in the House of Lords. I do, however, believe they should also be debated in the House of Commons before we agree to them. Only if we are confident that they have been given the scrutiny that they deserve will Conservatives support them
It is also worth pointing out that many of the fears about the Bill’s proposals are not entirely accurate. People won’t be disconnected from the internet without due process. And it will only be a small minority of people who consistently infringe copyright who are disconnected, not the average person who happens to have done so once or twice. Even then, they may be able to reconnect using another ISP immediately and without penalty.
Please rest assured that my colleagues in the Shadow Culture, Media and Sport and Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills teams will do everything in their power to work towards legislation that strengthens our digital sector and provides the security that our businesses and consumers so desperately need.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Yours sincerely,

James Paice MP

My main concern with this is "People won’t be disconnected from the internet without due process". How exactly do you prove something like this beyond doubt?
yakyb 19th March 2010, 15:39 Quote
that is a well written reply
oasked 19th March 2010, 19:01 Quote
Email sent to Bob Neill MP.

Mandelson, the lizard, is unstoppable though. :(
Fizzban 19th March 2010, 21:16 Quote
This will be a disaster if it goes through. Can this country get any more of a nanny state than it already is?

I don't have stolen goods coming through my my mail..but I'll be buggered if I'd let Royal Mail open all my post to check first. This is no different. It's against my rights. It's an invasion of privacy. And it won't stop piracy at all. Everyone will just use more encryption ect..

For those that are interested: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldbills/044/10044.i-iii.html
PegasusM 20th March 2010, 03:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakyb
that is a well written reply

yeah I thought so too.
smc8788 22nd March 2010, 14:08 Quote
Just got a letter in the post from Chris Huhne:
Quote:
Thank you for your email regarding the Digital Economy Bill. I am looking into this issue and I will send a full reply shortly.
Flibblebot 24th March 2010, 15:48 Quote
Reply:
Quote:
Thank you very much for your email below to which I am responding on behalf of Adam Price MP.

Adam has asked me to thank you for taking the time to make him aware of this important issue and for outlining your views on the matter. Adam is fully in agreement with you that this bill, or any bill for that matter, should not be rushed through Parliament and instead should undergo a full and transparent Parliamentary debate providing Members the opportunity to put forward their constituent's views.

Adam will of course raise these concerns where appropriate and does support the calls for a parliamentary debate on this matter.

I hope that I have assured you of Adam's support in this matter and again allow me to thank you for highlighting the issue and your standpoint on it to Adam.

Yours Sincerely,



Owen Hathway
Swyddog Wasg ac Ymchwil / Press and Research Officer Adam Price AS/MP ac/and Rhodri Glyn Thomas AC/AM Dwyrain Caerfyrddin a Dinefwr / Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
smc8788 27th March 2010, 17:42 Quote
He wasn't kidding, I've just got a 3-page letter. If you're interested, you can read it here:

http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e306/simonc8788/scan.jpg
CardJoe 27th March 2010, 18:21 Quote
My girlfriend and I both just got identical, colour printed letters in the post. I was impressed that he'd reply at first, but then I noticed his letter was an obvious mail merge that included direct copy pasta from things other MPs have sent.
Lightning98 28th March 2010, 18:48 Quote
I don't really see how writing letters or petitions could change anything? There's too much money involved in this and well... its politics. When did politicians ever do what the people wanted them to do :D

But, eventually (if there isn't a zombie apocalypse in the meantime) i see most of countries in the world adopting a similar policy. Its simple mathematics, people who want the laws have money - politicians wants money.

And as for the part of the article that goes:
"Don't misunderstand me (and bit-tech/CustomPC). Everyone in the office is totally against copyright infringement. I work daily alongside people who are affected by game piracy and we've had our own content pilfered by others in the past too."

I respect that, and don't want to discuss the subject of piracy, but while the situation in the UK/US is what it is, things are a bit different in other parts of the world... i have family scattered in a bunch of countries and most of them would look at you like you're crazy when you ask them if their programs are "originals"
steveo_mcg 7th April 2010, 12:04 Quote
Any update on this? It was being read yesterday.
culley 8th April 2010, 10:29 Quote
I can't believe this bil was passed, I'm watching the debate now on the parliament website. Everyone in the debate agrees that this bill is to broad and isn't defined properly, they know it will have unindented consequence's but yet they still passed it.

Democracy in action i love it.
Zoon 8th April 2010, 10:58 Quote
I sent my MP an email, and got at least one other person at work to do it too.
CardJoe 8th April 2010, 12:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoon
I sent my MP an email, and got at least one other person at work to do it too.

Me too.

My MP, Rob Wilson of Reading, sent out two letters (identical) to interested consituents saying he would oppose the bill. He also tweeted to that effect.

And then, from what I've learned, he didn't even show up to the debate.
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