Liberal? Democrats?

The Digital Economy Bill stinks. It stinks of corruption. It stinks because it is an authoritarian top down approach to the internet. It stinks because it fails to understand the modern economy. It is rotten to its very core.

A Government at the end of its term can be easily bought. The sleaze, panic, arrogance and corruption just oozes through. You can see it, feel it even.

Minister for Labour's Big Business Donors

Minister for Labour Party Big Donors

This is why of all the so called show piece legislation that was announced during the Queens’s speech, I knew that the nasty pernicious “Digital Economy Bill” would be guaranteed a safe path by those lick spittle Labour MPs.

All the other bills, may pass, may not but they were just good intentions. A balanced budget bill – yep Neo-Con Labour signed up for that and they passed it, a Constitutional Reform bill that re-introduces the right to protest outside of Parliament just as they are leaving office, the rest was just for show. Promises of how much better the World would be if you would just please, finally gave shiny happy Gordon Brown some form of electoral mandate.

Shiny happy Gordon

Shiny happy Gordon

Mandleson never again needs to worry about elections. When Labour MP’s lose their seats, Mandleson will still be in Parliament and he will still be trying to stay in Government. Lord Mandleson works for Peter Mandleson. Peter Mandleson works for Lord Mandleson.

Lord Peter Mandleson

Lord Peter Mandleson

Those of us here in the UK browsing the net, minding our own business, will still however be facing the consequences of the little bill, the movie and music industry managed to foist on an unsuspecting public. The Digital Economy Bill 2010.

Those at the front end of the digital economy, you know the ISPs, the search engine people, the social networking people, the people who make the damned digital economy thing kind of work hate the bill. Well it does not matter what they want or how much it costs them. They do not count. The people who have made the internet work the likes of google, yahoo, facebook and ebay do not count either. The only digital economy being protected will be the music and film industry distributors.

Labour will not bail out manufacturing jobs, they helped give Rover away to a bunch of spivs who then killed the only British car manufacturing company around. They will however help their billionaire banker friends and they will however protect with the full force of the law a dieing media distribution industry that has done nothing but suck and destroy real talent from the music industry.

It is not hyperbole to say that this bill will mean the end of open wireless, disconnections from service based flimsy evidence, with no proper recourse to appeal. You can be disconnected from the internet based on the content industry saying you were illegally file sharing.

Under this bill a coffee shop, or a University will be counted as an ISP. No exemptions.

The Digital Economy bill was so bought and paid for that it was first released on a music industry site and then on the Government site.

If there was ever a bill where this applied

Kill the bill

it is this bill. This bill must die, otherwise internet freedom in the UK literally dies.

So I am utterly disgusted with the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives who have made a bad bill worse. If this is a tactic to ensure that the bill is batted between the Commons and Lords, fine. It would be one way of killing it, but Labour is not playing that game. The Digital Economy bill will be passed.

Lord Clement Jones and Howard pushed through an amendment allowing the courts to order the blocking of sites “substantially infringing” copyright.

Lord Clement Jones explains his position here.

The Digital Economy Bill, as currently drafted, only deals with a certain type of copyright infringement, namely peer-to-peer file sharing. Around 35% of all online copyright infringement takes place on non peer-to-peer sites and services. Particular threats concern “cyberlockers” which are hosted abroad.

There are websites which consistently infringe copyright, many of them based outside the UK in countries such as Russia and beyond the jurisdiction of the UK courts. Many of these websites refuse to stop supplying access to illegal content….

…Amendment 120A makes an explicit reference to human rights implications being taken into consideration by the Courts whilst they consider the imposition of an injunction. Such a safeguard is paramount to our concerns.

The intention is also for the injunction to only be possible for sites where there is a substantial proportion of infringing material that is either hosted by that particular site or is accessed through the particular site in question.

The injunction will only be granted where copyright owners had first requested ISP’s to block access to the site and where they had also requested the site operator to stop providing access to the infringing material (either by removing the material itself or removing the ability to access the material)….

….Site blocking is not a new phenomenon, the most well-known being the recommended list of sites to block provided by the Internet Watch Foundation

When it is written in to law what is “substantial”? Youtube? Facebook?

The IWF is far from perfect. It blocked wikipedia for instance. It was easy to get round.

Liberal Democrats have reacted strongly against this. Including 25 Lid-Dem MP’s.

This will not simply be used against those who offer music or films. This amemdment does nothing to stop bloggers getting caught up in this. Image sharing is common with small bloggers.

With ever growing internet speeds and PC speeds the internet has in many homes replaced the television. This bill serves to act as a Luddite piece of legislation in the face of that change.

Media Center PCs can do film searches for period of a month in advance recording tv streamed content to be played back on demand at the time of the PC users choosing. To many there is little difference between grabbing a torrent of an old film and downloading it, or downloading it through their PVR.

Sales of consumer devices such as the XBOX 360 and PS3 were boosted in the US by deals with Netflix, a low price all you can eat model of film subscription, with access to thousands of films, including recent blockbusters. This is not available here due to licence restrictions – so a better bill would have been to look at the licence restrictions.

The Government accepts that they had no proper figures about the numbers of people who download content illegally and then buy it if they like it. With music, services like spotify have had an impact on that, however the content distributors are now wanting to kill that as well. They are tearing up their agreement and it is not difficult to imagine that this is because of this bill.

When this gets to the Commons MP’s will have the choice of Labour’s clause 17, which would allow Mandleson (and his successor) to appoint anyone to decide what is or isn’t illegal, at will or a Lib/Con pact pushing an approach likely to produce straightforward threats, bans and withdrawals of sites with user generated content.

Great, really. We know either power would not be abused. After all the terrorism bills haven’t been abused have they? [/endsnark]

The strategy in the Lords and Commons needs to be simple. Delay and delay this bill. If this amendment does that all well and good. In that way, it dies when the election is called. If it has completed Committee stage, this bill passes as part of the Commons close down process. “Controversial” amendments removed.

Digital delivery is here. Mandleson needs to tell the content distributors – deal with it. Look at why piracy is happening. The UK is unable to have a service equivalent to Netflix because of licencing. Change the law so that a company like Netflix can set up here. No one wants discs that can get scratched anymore. If a decent watch all you want service was available at the price Netflix charges, UK buyers would lap it up.

Labour’s parting gift to the content industry must not be allowed to pass. This is not a bill for the digital age, it is  a bill for the dustbin.

[Update] There is a motion going to the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference on this.

The Liberal Democrats have played their cards very badly on this awful Content Industry bill because they have managed to get their names muddied with this bill – a bill that would shame the US Congress for its lobbyist stench. This motion helps to remove them from that stench.

The Tories could not make the poll tax better. Labour can not make compulsory ID cards better – even if they came with a free fluffy pink teddy bear. This awful lobbyist sponsored, digital economy destroying bill can not be made better either.

There is a clear way that the Liberal Democrats can gain from this. Fight to either kill the bill before and make it clear that is what they are doing. If it does pass – make it clear that they want it repealed. In fact repeal of this bill and every other civil liberty robbing bill passed by Neo Con Labour over the last 13 years should be a condition of any post election alliance.

The Liberal Democrats should once again take the high ground on civil liberties, Liberal is after all in the Party name.

  1. Jack Jones
    April 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Can we have a list of MP’s that pledge to immediately repeal this law in favour of a sensible debate instead of the rush job? Be great to start some kind of campaign about this – rage against the machine style?

  1. March 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm

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