Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Digital Economy Bill - thin pickings

Extreme Web Laws

Many online businesses have expressed concern about the Digital Economy Bill, and its clumsy attempt to control copyright infringement (bit torrents, etc). It does suggest that the government hasn't quite grasped the scale of the problem (trying to shut down, or control, a system originally designed to self-heal or by-pass attempts to disrupt service).

We talk of China refusing full access for its citizens to the Web, and now we have the UK going for something which at least contains the same potential to restrict public access to information.

Similar moves to block/filter/censor internet access in Australia have raised a storm of protest.

Libraries and Copyright

Of course, libraries have always found themselves in an awkward position in terms of 'artists and creators' getting properly rewarded. We buy a book and lend it to 50 people, which seems like 49 sales the author doesn't benefit from (in the simplest model). Similarly, one would have to be naive to assume that at least some people don't take music CDs home and burn them onto their computer for future reference. No doubt they also borrow copies from their friends, and do the same thing, so it's hard to see how we can prevent that, except to 'lock' CDs in the first place. Sharing online doesn't seem drastically different from borrowing your neighbour's hard copy.


The only positive comment I have seen about it refers to a clause (originally Clause 42, but confusingly renamed Clause 43) that would allow libraries MORE freedom, surprisingly - freeing them up to digitalize and share 'orphan works' which they hold, and for which copywrite holders may prove impossible to trace.

Version at UKAuthorITy

Rob Myers blog comments

At Last...the 1709 Copyright blog offers plenty of detail

Lobbying for further debate before creating a new law

However - if you wish to contact your MP, to ask for more debate of this contentious and complicated subject, you can go to the 38Degrees page online, use your PostCode to trace your MP, and use their template letter as a basis for your complaint.

Guardian discussion of the issue.

38Degrees lobbying page.

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