Monday, January 25, 2010

Digital Economy Bill

In the midst of all the current excitements (bankers, politicans, Blair being found out, sharks in Cape Town etc) it is quite a challenge to focus on a fairly dry piece of legislation that reaches the Committee Stage in the House of Lords on the 26th January - the Digital Economy Bill.

However, this piece of legislation, however it is finally framed, will shape the creative industries in the UK for many years to come. A key area is the extent to which the ISP's will be held accountable for "turning a blind eye" to persistent illegal use of their networks as well as the requirement to disconnect persistent offenders. The outcome of this Bill will impact on the profit and loss accounts of the ISP's so much lobbying over lunch no doubt.

Fundamentally if profit cannot be made from originating and distributing content then as an industry it will scale back - and once the Pirates have bled the archive dry - the content industry will have been decimated. It is not a reasonable argument to suggest that this is simple the evolution of an industry - ripping off copyright is simply illegal but being facilitated by new technologies. This Bill is an opportunity to help the UK creative industries prosper in the digital age.

Charles Dunstone argues against an Orwellian nightmare of ISP "snooping" - but that may be because he is providing a great platform for the illegal filesharers with generous bandwith offers and he has no financial exposure to the content producers.

Google must also be brought into this discussion as YouTube, AdWords and Adsense are all weapons commonly used by the Pirates to market and monetise their streams. In the main the Pirates generate income by using the Google advertising platform - this could easily be stopped by Google and the ill gotten gains re-directed to the content producers and rights holders.

Hopefully the legislators and politicans are not all too old and corrupt to create a fair framework for the content producers, ISP's and consumers to co-exist in the new digital world - but time will tell.