Act Now: The Digital Economy Bill Petition

Written by Joe Martin

March 17, 2010 // 3:57 p.m.

Tags: #38degrees #digital-bill-of-rights #digital-britain #digital-economy-bill #petition #politics

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.
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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.

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