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Who cares about the Digital Economy Bill?

Rory Cellan-Jones | 09:50 UK time, Monday, 5 April 2010

What's the single biggest political issue for the online community (if there is such a thing) in the run-up to the general election? If you believe the political insiders - those bloggers and tweeters who focus almost entirely on politics - then the crucial issues range from the economy and tax to health and immigration. And of course the really hot policy question is whether Gene Hunt of Ashes to Ashes is a good role model for an aspiring prime minister.

But for others outside the virtual Westminster village, it's all about something that will be debated in the House Of Commons on Tuesday afternoon: the Digital Economy Bill. The bill, with its controversial measures aimed at stamping down on internet piracy and file-sharing, is a cause celebre for the UK's web libertarians. They argue that it will remove the right to a fair trial, stamp out public wi-fi, and effectively wreck Britain's ambitions to be a world web leader.

Those claims might seem a tad overstated, but the bill's opponents have been much more effective in getting their message out online than its supporters in the music and media industries who insist the bill offers a vital and overdue measure of protection against the ravages of intellectual property infringement.

So far, much of the online political class has been completely indifferent to the issue. They appear to assume that complex issues of copyright and connectivity just won't play in Cowdenbeath or Camberley. What's more, most MPs appear unconvinced that there is much to be worried about - until the Liberal Democrats broke ranks last week, the three biggest parties in the Commons were all committed to pushing through the anti-piracy measures in the bill.

Newspaper advert re Digital Economy BillBut in recent days, the bill's opponents have done their best to prove to the politicians that they've misread the public mood. Last week an organisation called 38 Degrees launched a web appeal which raised £20,000 in just a couple of days to fund adverts in today's papers warning against the dangers of rushing the bill through without proper scrutiny.

38 Degrees, which is working with the Open Rights Group, also says that 20,000 e-mails have now been sent to MPs by constituents opposed to the bill.

This appears finally to have spurred the Digital Economy Bill's supporters in the media industries into action. The Creative Coalition Campaign, funded by media unions like Bectu and Equity, has placed its own advert in the Guardian, urging MPs to back the bill. A sign, perhaps, that they are no longer quite so convinced of the certainty of victory

Newspaper advert re Digital Economy BillIt looks likely that this controversial legislation will get very little time in the Commons, and then go into the "wash-up" process, where the parties agree to push through bills in the final hours of a Parliament. So, for supporters and opponents, there's a huge amount to play for this afternoon. With the backing of both Labour and the Conservatives, the measures look likely to go through - unless MPs decide this really is an issue of widespread concern which needs further examination.

The Open Rights Group and 38 Degrees have worked skilfully to build a web-based movement against the bill - though the real-world demonstration they mounted outside Parliament a couple of weeks ago was not that well attended. The advert they've placed in the papers today claims "most people have major concerns about the bill".

Is that "most people" true - or is most of the population either blissfully ignorant or far more concerned about issues such as tax, the health service and education? The Commons debate will show which way MPs are betting - if they can concentrate amid all the election excitement.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    24 hours on and no response ? You have your answer :-)

  • Comment number 2.

    @1: You've not seen some of the prior comments on this. And this post mentions "this afternoon". Maybe a timing issue?

  • Comment number 3.

    With the Election now called for May 6th, we're about to see whether the critics of the bill (like me) have done enough. Hopefully it will get knocked into the weeds so that some proper debate can take place in the next parliament.

  • Comment number 4.

    Whilst concentrating on the more draconian aspects of DEB , most of the mainstream media have missed the impact of Clause 43 - Orphan Works - will have on photographers. There is more to read at www.stop43.org.uk

    But then should we be surprised? The BBC, a vast consumer of creative content, is actually lobbying for Clause 43 and therefore has no interest in seeing an alternative viewpoint disseminated across its pages. Where is the balanced view then Auntie? What about the photographers and their concerns?

  • Comment number 5.

    i suppose someone has to something

  • Comment number 6.

    I am not sure if you are aware but the Conservatives have also broken ranks. STOP43.org.uk was yesterday given assurances by leading Conservatives that they "will set out robust opposition to s43".

    Clause 43 of the bill is an amendment which deals with the creation of highly contentious Orphan Works legislation. Photographers from the UK and abroad are vehemently opposed to it because it will severely undermine current international copyright legislation and the rights they have over their images. It will allow others, mainly large corporations including the BBC (who publicly support it), to commercially exploit their work without their knowledge or redress, and at the same time, generate a profit for the government by administering a licensing service.

    Andre Regini - Member of the AOP, LBIPP, LMPA

  • Comment number 7.

    People probably don't care as of this moment, but they will once Mandelson has the power to arbitrarily make up rules on the spot just so he can feel smug in his blissful ignorance about all things technological. Just because he doesn't have a notion about how the internet works doesn't mean he should ruin it for everyone else so he can avoid having to learn.

  • Comment number 8.

    This needs to be debated and not pushed through.

  • Comment number 9.

    The DEB has not been thought through and will have huge consequences if passed. I'm very worried about Section 43 which will result in huge problems with copyright - it benefits no one!

  • Comment number 10.

    The response I received from my local MP to a letter on the Bill suggests that even if Labour and the Conservatives broadly support the Bill, there are at least some MPs with significant concerns about the proposed measures and poor drafting.

    Unless all these fears are settled in this afternoon's debate, it certainly won't just be the Lib Dems voting against it.

  • Comment number 11.

    If this bill goes through, i will be boycotting the music industry, there is a huge open source music scene out there that recognize the need to share their art without greed or lining the pockets of big wigs, similar are the artists that "work hard" doing live performances to make a living rather than relying on the few pence that is left from CD sales after the record companies cream their share, adapt or die, i say!

    It is a pity that the free-film industry was not as big!!

  • Comment number 12.

    The Problem is that the media haven't reported on this Bill clearly enough a lot of average people (meaning not overly IT literate) will not understand how much this will effect them even though they are not involved in piracy.

    Most people would be livid the gov are even considering this bill if it was explained clearly and without bias.

  • Comment number 13.

    One the one hand, the government says that internet access is becoming a basic human right. One the other hand, they're proposing a bill which has the power to remove internet access from someone without a trial.

    Let's hope this bill goes ABEND

  • Comment number 14.

    One of the big problems is that the record labels want to maintain the price if Music despite the low cost of production. We hear a lot about the the small slice that goes to the artist but little about the bulk of the cost "Promotion". This is effectively encompasses:-

    Wining and Dining to get you record on play lists
    Adds and promotion
    Big corporate events to raise profile (get on play lists)
    Kick backs for the best shelf in a music store
    Support needed for out-moded big shops to sell physical media from

    The sooner music is priced correctly and a lot of the old corporate crap taken out the sooner the problem will be fixed. More variety, less "in-your-face" promotion, a bigger cut to the artist.

    That's the way to fix the problem

  • Comment number 15.

    Photographers having their livelihood stripped away by not just the 'freetard' mentality, but by corporates such as the BBC (who have been a major lobbyist for orphan works part of the bill.)

    See: http://copyrightaction.com/forum/election-announcement-sets-deb-for-wash-up

    to see how we've been stiched up and are going to get washed up.

    The debate is at 3.30 today.

  • Comment number 16.

    It's interesting that you say that critics like me "argue that it will remove the right to a fair trial". I don't see how that's a matter of argument - the text of the bill is clear: if someone is accused of piracy, a fair trial is no part of the process.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm fairly fed up that when there is comment about this Bill, most of it seems to be how terrible it is that the Bill makes an attempt to limit illegal file-sharing. Internet access may be becoming a basic human right but playing fast and loose with other people's creative output is not.

    I'm far more concerned about Section 43, which would effectively negate most of my rights over my own work as a photographer. This desperately needs to be stopped.

    But right now we probably all agree that this is a sloppily drafted Bill that has not been properly debated either in parliament or in the wider public arena, and it might be best if the whole thing gets ditched and we start again after the Election.

  • Comment number 18.

    I am not sure if you are aware but the Conservatives have also broken ranks. STOP43.org.uk was yesterday given assurances by leading Conservatives that they "will set out robust opposition to s43".
    Clause 43 of the bill is an amendment which deals with the creation of highly contentious Orphan Works legislation. Photographers from the UK and abroad are vehemently opposed to it because it will severely undermine internationally agreed copyright law and allow others to steal the rights to their images. It will allow, mainly large corporation including the BBC (who publicly support it), to commercially exploit their work without their knowledge or redress, and at the same time, generate a profit for the government by administering a licensing service.
    Photographic organisations have been campaigning hard against this, briefing the Lords and the main political parties, and believe they have now persuade the Tories to oppose the clause and have gained concessions from the LibDems. However, there is huge uncertainty whether any such amendments could be adopted during the wash-up.

    Andre Regini - Member of the AOP, LBIPP, LMPA

  • Comment number 19.

    I emailed all the main parties the same question about Defence policy via email (addresses obtained from their websites).

    Six weeks tomorrow and still not a single reply. That sums up the attitude of digital communications within political parties - although they all claim "we would love to hear from you".

  • Comment number 20.

    The DEB is a bill is designed to benefit the big media organisations. The same big media organisations who need mostly freelance primary cultural producers, writers, artist, musicians, photographers and designers to provide most of their material. The mainstream media have reported on how Copyright has to be enforced to benefit the major players while ignoring Clause 43 that will make the rights of primary cultural producers harder to enforce and much easier for the media giants to exploit for minimum or no payment. This is not a technology story, its a people story.

  • Comment number 21.

    Further erosion of our civil liberties under this draconian government. Peter Mandelson and his business chums are behind this, and I hope this disgusting bill is stopped in its tracks.

  • Comment number 22.

    Rory, it's photographers that care about this bill. Photographers are under real pressure from the Orphan works (Clause 43) part of the bill. As a content creator I want to have control over who does or does not publish my work. If a corporation wants to use my work I generally have no problem, however I will expect some recompense and credit as a result. This is more than just about the music industry and illegal downloads. There are larger ethical and moral issues at stake here for anyone involved in the creation of content whether photographer, musician etc.

  • Comment number 23.

    What we're about to see here is a defining moment for the politically naïve but net-literate generation.

    The DEBill will be pushed through - not all of it, but enough so that the people who DO think it's important will sense that their views have been overridden by the music lobby's influence behind closed doors.

    These will mostly be of the generation for whom the Internet has always been present in their lives, who have little attachment to any particular nation state in our globalised world and even less to any particular political party.

    Those who imagined that tweeting their opposition and emailing MPs would have any perceivable impact at all.

    What they do with their collective disappointment that we don't live in a democracy where logic and reason win out against corruption and vested interests remains to be seen.

    Parts of the Executive have feared this moment for some time, hence their desire to create enough suitable levers to close down areas of the Internet and access to it as they see fit (and argue about it afterwards).

    At the same time, these same people go into paroxysms of delight at the prospect of infinite data collection, traceability and analysis of the citizenry's behaviour.

    It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  • Comment number 24.

    If something as important as this is , is just rushed through parliament it will go down in history as the last nail in the coffin of nu labour.

    Its appalling that , at the drop of a hat, a person can be accused of supposedly breaching copyright and they then have to prove themselves innocent, no court, no appeals, just the word of a quango.There is already a robust court system in place that copyright holders can use to nail the offenders and yet they have never used it ???? why ???
    Perhaps , its because they know that their alleged facts and figures about the matter just wouldnt stand up to scrutiny and would be shown to be a myth.

    I have no sympathy for people who breach the law,ignorance of it is not seen as a defence...but i baulk at the thought of draconian measures being brought in that will stifle freedom of speech and actively discourage new and innovative business models when the old guard industries are not prepared to use the already in place legislation in court and show they have done everything they can to protect their business model.

    It is interesting to note how many of the so called creative industries thought so much about this country that they moved all their production to the far east, maximising their own profits by keeping the prices of their products at astonishing levels , way above what their production costs are yet they now come bleating for sympathy, and we have a Government prepared to drop reasoned debate to appease them.

    It has already been shown by certain , unscrupulous law firms, ACS Law and Davenport Lyons being 2 ,the dangers of letting supposed experts by pass the legal system....false accusations have been rife, is this what people really want ??? its like the stolen get away car owner being held responsible for the bank robbery....

    As i say i have no problem with the law being used to proect people who have done wrong, but its incredible to see such a complex piece of law being passed on a whim, and it would be a gross misuse of power, for parliamentarians to do so.If its so important to all concerned let all candidates put it down as bill no1 on the next governments agenda.

  • Comment number 25.

    As someone who creates content I am behind proposals which protect copyright & educate the general public that not everything on the Internet is free and there for the taking. However the DEB seems like it has been devised for the benefit of the big media companies, on one hand their copyrighted material is being protected nut on the other it is being made easier for them to use "orphaned" content, without the permission of the content creator.

    This bill needs proper debate, to ensure that the general public are getting a fair deal, not just those who may be having their internet used to steal copyrighted material, but those smaller content creators too.

  • Comment number 26.

    Five thoughts....


    1. Here is where your money goes when you make an iTunes song purchase: Apple gets a 35% cut and the other 65% goes to the music industry. Of this 65%, they pay the artists between 8 and 14 cents per song depending on their contract. Finally, artists must also make a large pay out for producer and recording costs. If the artists’ music does not do so well, they could end up owing rather than earning! In the end, iTunes and many other legal download services just give a ‘modern shiny look’ to the exploitative system of the music industry over the past 50 years.

    2. There are a number of studies that show file-sharing actually increases legal music consumption.

    3. The Digital Economy Bill will not stop people sharing copyrighted material over the internet.

    4. The Digital Economy Bill will cause some innocent users to have their Internet disconnected.

    5. We do not need an ill conceived, poorly drafted Digital Economy Bill rushed through Parliament in the last hours before a general election. What we do need is a new version of the existing Copyright Act which predates the Internet and is wholly unsuitable for use with that medium.

  • Comment number 27.

    Call me paranoid but there is also a possible hidden agenda here. If someone posts a "sensitive" file (e.g. something the Government of the day wishes to restrict on a file sharing site), this Act will give that Government the right to close down a persons network connection without going to Court where a far hearing could take place, therefore keeping the "sensitive" information out of the public domain. Even a suspected terrorist has the right to a lawyer. With this Bill a person has no such redress.

  • Comment number 28.

    'Most people' may not really be concerned about the DE Bill, but 'many people' could be affected by it in unforseen ways.
    I may have missed it, but there doesn't seem to be much discussion about the effect of a heavy-handed law on people creating their own content. Could there be unintended consequences?
    The 'creating' part of media literacy is often ignored, but it's vital that people take part and create media for themselves. Many already do, of course, via blogs, YouTube etc, as well as via a range of community media outlets.
    Do private individuals know how to clear the rights for a copyrighted item to use online? I bet not. A journalist or professional media person has access to the rules of copyright etc and the resources for following them (with a team of lawyers to advise them if they work for a large organisation) - but the private individual doesn't.
    Do you therefore plan to make criminals of everyone who unwittingly adds a lively 'pirated' backing track to their homemade video without clearing the rights, or who shares 'pirated' bits of a TV show which they've enjoyed? If so, how sad.
    Instead, why not raise the profile of the value of the creative potential which the internet has provided and have the courage to trust the ordinary person more.
    Don't let creativity get stifled by being caught up in some kind of badly thought-out ('dangerous dogs' style) piece of legislation.

  • Comment number 29.

    The DEB has been championed by an unelected member of the Cabinet who sits in a position where he does not have to anwer questions from the lower house, It was conceived after a friendly chat with the head of a major media company, debated by members of both houses - many of whom don't seem to understand the internet - and will now be voted on in a rush without proper debate.

    Rushed laws make for bad laws (Dangerous Dogs Act anyone?)

  • Comment number 30.

    What I find absolutely absurd is the fact that the UK government basically knows nothing about IT or internet culture. Actually, the whole UK population is fairly behind, mostly the brits in general are not very good at computers. The californians, germans, koreans and japanese, they push boundaries & win awards. We're *not* a leader globally. We're the trailing edge.

    The UK govt has debatably the worst IT history of strategy for their own systems compared to anybody else in the whole world's public or private sectors. They can't even get email to work. The security is terrible, the usability is terrible, it's *just bad*. Loads of it is still running on... *windows NT?!*. Crazy. A friend of mine just had his bank account cleaned out by fraudsters. I asked whoa! how did this happen? That's really rare these days! The answer: by filing his tax return. Jaw on the floor.

    The people in the house of Lords just don't spend any time online, their debate will be largely meaningless and biased in favour of dying old media businesses. It's equivalent to having people who don't ride bicycles making cycling law, or people who don't read books setting policy on libraries. I've looked at the proposals and I just go "you what?! that won't work! the brief is all wrong!".

    Really the best idea for adapting to the new possibilities would be to form a crack team of Computer Science PhDs to be technology ministers, and do a referendum *online* on how the law should work. TBH we should really just stick to legal precedent, let cases go through the courts and see what judge & jury think. Wait for the big problems to turn up and solve them reactively.

    With the roll-out of significant legal changes to how the internet is legislated, you've got to forsee at least where the game will be in 5 to 10 years time, that's how long it'll take to implement. Let me tell you the computer industry and internet of 2020 is going to be very different to our current desktop computing. It's going to change *everything*. It's like the second industrial revolution.

    Forget about the record industry and plastic disk revenue. Media is now done on a single digital platform. Distribution costs for media are near-zero. That's how it works now. As a media business, that's what you have to work with.

    If you ask me, the people who should be legally prosecuted right now in the UK are BT and the mobile phone companies for anticompetition, holding everything back to try to hang onto their voice call charges and failing to invest in cutting edge infrastructure. We'd have been better off with a nationalised telecoms company doing our ISP.

    _________

    Run a story on http://mysociety.org. They're an indie NGO of about 4 or 5 geeks who now publish all of the parliamentary minutes online, after setting up a petitions site, they got called in by downing street to set them up with the one they have now. How come the government didn't actually figure to do this autonomously boggles the mind. The fact that local councils don't have a duty to provide an internet forum for local residents to debate issues & report problems also boggles the mind.

    You see what I mean? The attitude of government is that the internet is a problem rather than a grand opportunity, and the problem needs to be got rid of or "brought under control".

    Thing is that the technology won't go away, and it won't stop doing what it does: sending & processing data. It's like the telephone, and the govt are suggesting the digital equivalent of "people shouldn't be prevented from talking about certain things on the telephone"... therefore...

    If I can send 1s and 0s I can encode whatever data I want, and there's *nothing* anybody will ever be able to do to stop that. Pandora's box is open. Measures to curtail peoples' use of computers will only make the system less reliable, impair its performance and add large legal compliance costs. This will put the UK at a further disadvantage in the global marketplace. The internet is *not* a problem, there's very little danger to life & limb online. Internet companies won't want to be based here. Good hackers will always be able to run rings around any large automated system. The cops actually need good hackers on their force, admins. If people are committing serious crimes (copyright infringement isn't one) then the police hackers should with the equivalent of a search warrant help find the offenders. They should be physically arrested and charged in a court of law.

    __________________________

    Rupert Murdoch, EMI, Sony, AT&T, Time Warner... they don't like the internet as an egalitarian place where people can freely share media at low cost from peer to peer, where nobody has a monopoly on publishing and the associated revenues.

  • Comment number 31.

    The biggest issue with the DEB is less what it may do towards individuals, but more to the damage it will do to the actual music industry.

    Yup, you read that right, the DEB will actually HARM the music industry, and the MPs and record labels behind it have been totally blind to this for a very long time.

    Yes, numerous statistics are thrown around to say that filesharing "Lost" the entertainment industry £xbn pounds each year, and the natural knee-jerk reaction is to do everything to combat filesharing and then, it is assumed, those £Billions will soon be back in the pockets of record labels, with a smaller proportion going to the artists they represent.

    Unfortunately the statistics they never include are those relating to the HUGE increase in actual spending on ALL forms of media in the last 20 years. The public spend their money on what they choose to, and nowadays they're spending more money than ever on media, albeit NOT on CDs or digital music, the expense goes elsewhere. Newsflash time: That elsewhere is (for the most part) the massively expanded world of video-gaming. Go take a look around the net for some figures if you wish for proof of this. You'll see that Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have had incredible increases in sales (and profits) over the last 10 years, as have the majority of game developers and software houses. And, if you put those figures side-to-side you will also see that these increases vastly out-do the allegedly 'lost' revenue due to the filesharing of music and other media.

    To me, and I'm sure to many others who choose to think a little deeper about these things, this doesn't suggest that the revenue is 'lost' at all. It suggests that people are spending what money they have elsewhere, and the illegal downloading of music is in addition to this.

    Which begs my original point back to the fold: How exactly will the Digital Economy Bill damage the music industry. Simply put, if folk no longer download music then they're vastly less likely to discover new music (the argument that Radio is an adequate introducer to music is often null and void when 45% of the population don't even own a DAB radio as yet), and if they discover less new music then gig attendance, festival attendance, merchandise sales (not to mention the obligatory TV-media-product tie-ins) and such will also begin to drop (all things which have actually expanded over the last ten years), and this is where the DEB will damage the music industry.

    To put it simply: In modern society people are looking for a different kind of entertainment. They want their media to be (on the whole) interactive. Be it through videogaming, festivals and gigs or whatever other method they choose, which unfortunately is the real reason for the decline of CD sales. This doesn't mean music is dead, or indeed dying, but the business model for it does not suit the era in which we live, and draconian regulation of the internet for the prevention of music sharing is not going to assist the medium whatsoever.

  • Comment number 32.

    The level of impartiality shown by the BBC over this matter is discussed here:

    http://wosblog.podgamer.com/2010/04/05/black-people-are-stupid-and-criminal-says-bbc/

    Basically, the Corporation unquestioningly repeats whatever the content industry tells it to, perhaps because it is a part of that content industry. Forcing licence-payers to pay to have this spurious propaganda broadcast at them is fairly outrageous.

  • Comment number 33.

    @1 33+ comments. I think we care.

    I hope this bill gets thrown out. It needs significant rework.

  • Comment number 34.

    @31 "Unfortunately the statistics they never include are those relating to the HUGE increase in actual spending on ALL forms of media in the last 20 years. The public spend their money on what they choose to, and nowadays they're spending more money than ever on media, albeit NOT on CDs or digital music, the expense goes elsewhere. Newsflash time: That elsewhere is (for the most part) the massively expanded world of video-gaming."

    The observation that consumers have more stuff to spend their disposable income now in unquestionably true, as is the fact that a huge amount is spent on various forms of videogaming. However, there is no compelling evidence to show that legal music purchasing is falling at the same time. 2008 and then 2009, for example, were each in their turn the biggest years in history for sales of singles. 2009 saw almost FOUR TIMES as many singles sold as 2003. Who says so? The BPI:

    http://www.bpi.co.uk/press-area/news-amp3b-press-release/article/2009-is-record-year-for-uk-singles-sales.aspx

    The fact is, there are no comprehensive figures (at least, none we're allowed to hear about) for sales of all music across all formats (physical, live, digital) and all types of distribution, including artists making their work commercially available without the "assistance" of a record label.

    What the figures that ARE available show is that music sales are in fact holding up astonishingly well in the face of unprecedented competition for people's leisure spending, whether it be from videogames, mobile phones, pay TV, iPhone apps and all manner of other things that either didn't exist or weren't widespread back in the 70s, 80s or even 90s.

    The music industry has claimed that piracy is killing it for the last 30 years, when in fact it keeps getting bigger and bigger. There isn't one single shred of evidence actually proving that filesharing costs the music industry a single penny, just speculation and assumption. The evidence suggesting that filesharing in fact benefits the industry is at LEAST as well-founded and considerably more impartial, but rarely gets a hearing because it doesn't have expensive lobbyists behind it.

    The BBC's collusion in the passing of the DEB is shameful.

  • Comment number 35.

    PS @31 "(the argument that Radio is an adequate introducer to music is often null and void when 45% of the population don't even own a DAB radio as yet)"

    I'm not sure that's a great indicator of anything. I do own a DAB radio, but it's a fat lot of use as I live in a city of 80,000 people which nevertheless has absolutely diabolical DAB reception - you get better results from waving a coathanger in the air. (We also have a dismally inadequate digital TV transmitter which means we get only a tiny fraction of the available TV channels despite most of the analogue signal having now been switched off.) Having been expecting digital stability and great sound quality, I was absolutely amazed at how bad DAB was. I never listen to it, and the radio was a complete waste of money when I'd have been just as well off with a cheap £5 analogue portable.

    Radio certainly IS an inadequate introducer, though, as daytime playlists are numbingly conservative both on BBC and commercial channels, and of course the most prolific champion of new music - BBC 6 - is going to be closed down.

  • Comment number 36.

    I used the link http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/speakout/extremeinternetl in order to send an email to my MP asking them to oppose the inclusion of this bill in the end-of-parliament "wash-up" process. No response as yet, will wait and see before deciding how to vote, suggest we all do the same to put pressure on MPs and candidates.

    @30 curious comment about BT given the company has announced £1.5bn investment programme to provide superfast broadband. Would be great to see other companies doing the same.

  • Comment number 37.

    Topical update from the "38 Degrees team" sent out this lunchtime.


    "Today Parliament is planning to rush through the Digital Economy Bill.

    Together we've sent tens of thousands of emails to our MPs urging a proper debate. Our pressure is working. Last week the Liberal Democrats caved in and announced they wouldn't support rushing the bill into law. We're now hearing from more and more MPs voicing serious concerns. But we don't have enough support to stop the bill becoming law, yet.

    Will your call your MP now and tell them why the bill shouldn't be rushed into law? It's quick and easy to call your MP. Click here for everything you need to make the call including instructions and your MPs phone number:
    http://www.38degrees.org.uk/deb-call-your-mp

    MPs saw our demand for a proper debate in the Times and the Guardian this morning. Now when the MPs get into work we need to make sure that our voice is heard, that their phones don't stop ringing about the bill.

    It's not everyday we call our MP - and your MPs know that. But on a matter as important as this a flood of phone calls could be what's needed to stop the bill being fast tracked into law.

    The debate starts at 3:30 so please call now to ensure your MP hears from you before the debate starts.

    Just click here to get started:
    http://www.38degrees.org.uk/deb-call-your-mp

  • Comment number 38.

    @34 and @35 - both good points well-made. Perhaps if the industry were to release some more legitimate figures they could back their arguments up, however the fact that they won't does suggest to me that doing so would instead debunk their argument altogether. It's a very interesting debate and one which is going to harm the industry far more than it benefits it.

    And a very good follow-up concerning DAB as well. Indeed when commercial/License funded radio does not take a chance with new music exposure (and those stations that do get closed down as comment 35 notes) then of course people will turn to other mediums. If the internet no longer becomes that medium then people will cease all purchases surrounding music altogether.

  • Comment number 39.

    As a general rule, rushed legislation is bad legislation.

    And the success or failure of this bill is going to be crucially dependent on the detail, much of which is of a highly technical nature.

    If this bill is rushed through just to meet a political timetable, I confidently predict it will end in disaster.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    Does this mean that when the government's IT systems are used to download copywrite material, these systems will also be taken off-line. Have their internat access denied. I hope so.

    Inland Revenue, Prison Sevice, MOD etc.

    I have seen and in some cases had to report, what goes on.

  • Comment number 42.

    In these days when more and more people seem to be sleep walking into a totally controlled existence,it is very important that as many as possible protest against this bill as surely one can see that this has only two functions,1. to control the people even more and 2.to give more and more to big corporations,the financial supporters of our mainstream politicians and their parties.

  • Comment number 43.

    Why are people suprised about Mandelson's actions? He stated publicly that Labour is the party for businesses the other day and he's right.

    It's just a shame it's the party for business in terms of putting business interest above civil liberties and human rights.

    Still, I'm not sure I care anyway, no amount of government legislation can stop me accessing whatever I want to on the internet. There are just too many places to get internet access from, and too many ways to hide what I wish to access.

    So in other words, whilst it seems likely corruption has bought the music industry victory in this battle, the war is still entirely unwinnable for them. It's just a shame a bunch of parliamentary time had to be wasted on things politicians don't understand in the meantime, and innovation will be severely harmed whilst there are more pressing issues right now, such as the economy- a time in fact where innovative new web companies would be a rather good way of getting the economy back on track.guess.

  • Comment number 44.

    This reeks of a government on it's last legs and getting any amount of corrupt legislation into the system without any thought.

    This bill stifles any creativeness by anyone who is not "professional", or should we say a business.

    Please MP's think twice before pandering to the party line.

  • Comment number 45.

    I have to be honest I don't believe new legislation is going to have any real impact. The government needs to instead force legislation on the content providers to move their businesses into the real world, create new models and a new system that takes into account that a three minute track that i listen to less often than i hear it on the radio is not worth 70p. When people are happy with the system they won't rebel against it. So long as there is rebellion the system is flawed.

  • Comment number 46.

    Is it any wonder people no longer want to waste their hard-earned money on notriously delicate CD's and DVD's where the only way to preserve them is to copy them?

  • Comment number 47.

    What's the point? I can go and buy a 3G internet dongle for £20, add £15 top up at a newsagent and surf the net without anyone knowing who I am.

    Okay, 3GB of traffic isn't going to satisfy an Internet pirate, but it shows that getting Internet access is really simple.

    This increasing criminalisation of what is really just infringement (unauthorised duplication) is insane. People have lent each other music for years, all the Internet has done is made it easier and more visible to those who dislike it.

    The money people don't spend on copied music doesn't vanish from the economy, it goes elsewhere. There's is only a finite amount of money people have, the majority of people in this country aren't bankers or MPs who can claim on expenses or have access to millions of pounds in bonuses.

  • Comment number 48.

    Incidentally, just in case anyone didn't catch this related story:

    http://www.jeremynicholl.com/blog/2010/04/05/uk-digital-economy-bill-turns-to-ashes/

  • Comment number 49.


    I really cannot understand why this bill must be pushed through with such haste. Certain provisions of the bill are indeed uncontroversial and could "go through on the nod", but others deserve more open scrutiny and debate.

    Are the media companies determined that this pass immediately? How are they threatened by a delay until the next session of Parliament?

    The bill itself has undergone substantial amendment since discussion in the House of Lords, and without due process being observed, it leads to allegations of undue influence by lobbyists.

    This bill should be properly scrutinised and debated, not go through as part of the informal "wash-up".

  • Comment number 50.

    if the music industry was prepared to invest money in artists instead of taking an reasonable cut, marketing them in a responsible manner thaty benefits them as artists and doesn't patronise the consumer and treats consumers as decision makers instead of cash cows, then the issue of them supposedly losing money and shedding jobs because of a perceived piracy wouldn't be an issue.

    They've failed to adapt to the digital age despite being the best placed to thrive. I'm sick of seeing made up figures about so called job losses attributed to so-called piracy (the worlds best ever free advertising system).

    If it was as big a problem as described, the various file sharing protocols would be blocked. The fact that this hasn't happened (not to mention the BBC's reliance on p2p for iPlayer) tells me the whole thing is yet another sham/scam.

  • Comment number 51.

    The result of the bill will almost certainly be the exact opposite of what the lawmakers (and the industry) desire - it will just encourage MORE piracy, and more and cleverer ways to avoid being caught. Big sticks just don't work here, as anyone with a modicum of intelligence would know. Just take a little tiny look at the results of the similar law in France....

    ....neither the music industry nor the government seems to have any idea what's going on. Quelle surprise.....

  • Comment number 52.

    To answer the question posed by this article, a good indication will be to keep an eye on parliament and see how many MPs turn up to debate this bill. Check to see if they're concious to. they have a habit of nodding off at the crucial moments. http://www.facebook.com/juryteam

  • Comment number 53.

    I wrote to my MP about this issue too - writetothem.com seems to work better, as I got a reply a few days later. She signed an Early Day Motion against disconnection but doesn't really seem to grasp how badly this swings the balance of power in favour of the vested interests of large media groups. The fact is that the government want to apply criminal penalties - disenfranchisement and the restriction on the right to freedom of expression - to civil offences without trial. And to block any websites they feel like with as soon as they receive a copyright infringement notice. I guess the US Government will be watermarking all their gunsight camera footage with © US Dept of Defence from now on...

  • Comment number 54.

    This bill is basically about stopping kids listening to music without paying for it! For that they will introduce punishment (removal of internet) without trial - has this government gone mad!

    The world has moved on with the digital era, and we don't need record companies to press vinyl or create CD's for us. The answer is for musicians to charge for live music, and accept that digitally recorded stuff is basically promotional material.

    Does anyone remember how the bill to privatise British Rail was pushed through at the end of a parliament - look what a mess that was!

  • Comment number 55.

    As a photographer I am very concerned by the lack of debate in the commons and also by the BBC's lack of reporting on the whole clause 43 issue. Any time the bill gets a mention it's either about the broadband tax or internet piracy. And the fact that the BBC seems to be colluding with the government because it stands to benefit from the passing of the bill, by allowing them to grab the rights of other content creators, stinks.

    The orphan works section of this bill has potential to affect the income of many content creators, such as photographers and I've not seen one person from http://www.stop43.org.uk/ or any such like organisation interviewed on the BBC news. Where's the balance?

  • Comment number 56.

    I also e-mailed my MP about this issue but had no reply. I'm very much against the bill, which as others have pointed out, is very unlikely to achieve its aims, and may indeed achieve the opposite and is dreadfully in the favour of the music industry and profits rather than consumer welfare.

    The bill also provides a basis for websites to be blocked and people disconnected, at odds with the widely supported idea of net neutrality and setting up the UK to follow countries such as Australia into mandatory web censorship, which stifles free expression and freedom of speech.

    The bill definitely needs to be properly debated, and part of the problem is that it is only achieving media recognition now, the day of the second reading, opposed to far in advance so people can see it for what it truly is and oppose it.

  • Comment number 57.

    In answer to the question "Who cares about the Digital Economy Bill?" - clearly not our politicians. The debate is taking place right now to a very empty chamber.
    http://tech-soc-stuff.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 58.

    I am puzzled because on the internet I have received two or three unsolicited YouGov banners which turn into propaganda for the Conservative Party. I doubt that YouGov can present itself as an ubiased pollster if it is part of the Tory campaign. What is the truth of the matter?

  • Comment number 59.

    As a struggling musician not under the massive promotional wing of a record company, the thought of giving them even MORE power by introducing this bill is appalling!
    And then to turn around the other way on photographs!!! Part of my job is sourcing photos online and the company I work for would love this, as they would get out of paying individuals quite easily.
    Although both bills are essentially coming from a different direction - it is clear in both cases the winners are big media conglomerates and the losers are individuals whether they be the makers of creative product or the consumers of it!

  • Comment number 60.

    I don't support illegal downloading, but this is the wrong bill to deal with it. It subverts some of the basic rules of justice and is too heavily biased towards the music industry, rather than most working musicians (excluding the 'big' musicians, who feel they are not getting the additional millions they crave).

    What is more worrying is the principle behind it: that the carrier is responsible for policing activity and content. What happens next ? Will the Post Office be made responsible for monitoring illegal items/substances sent by post, will BT and mobile phone service providers have to monitor every phone call to check if illegal activities or slanderous discussions are being carried out ? Will the Highways Agency, airlines or the rail system be responsible for monitoring illegal transportation of goods, rather than the Police or Customs ?

    We'll all have to pay more for our internet service to fund the ISPs' obligations under this bill, which is another hidden tax. Those who directly benefit will pay nothing. That is unreasonable.

  • Comment number 61.

    This bill isn’t about taking away peoples rights, it’s about helping give back the right for people to be paid and rewarded for the hard work which goes into making films and tv programmes, and ensuring we can all continue to enjoy a wide range of films and tv programmes in the future.

    The focus shouldn’t be on people being cut off. Clause 13 of the bill states that temporary suspension is only reserved for serious infringers who repeatedly ignore warning notices and I think most agree that an effective appeals process is needed.

    It’s important to remember that whilst the industry has a responsibility to continue to bring new services to the internet, these services are competing with the temptation of free. That’s one of the major reasons for the Digital Economy Bill, to allow the room for legal services to establish themselves online, so that those who work hard to make films and tv programmes are rewarded and so we can keep reinvestment in the industry and ensure that we all continue to get a wide range of things to watch.

    Felicity, on behalf of the Industry Trust for IP Awareness

  • Comment number 62.

    Felicity: It's nice that you feel that this bill will have those effects, but you're factually wrong. This bill is, factually, about taking away peoples' rights - in that it takes away peoples' rights. See how that works? By your logic, sending people to Guantanamo without trial is not 'removing their right to be considered innocent until proven guilty' - it's 'helping to give back the right for people to feel safe from terrorism'. In a manner of speaking, you're right. But you're also monumentally missing the point. There is a necessary balance to be drawn between the rights of different individuals and groups; to trample the rights of one group in defence of the finer feelings of another is seldom appropriate.

    'The right for people to be paid and rewarded for ...hard work' is far from a right. Indeed, it is a privilege, and an incredibly rare one, for that 'right' to be defended by the government. After all, coal miners worked hard, but you don't see many of them around these days, do you? There are many hard-working Cadburys staff who are looking at a bleak future because, due to high-power transactions far out of their sphere of influence, they have suddenly become surplus to requirements. In terms of 'intellectual property' creation, the vast majority of content producers are themselves not 'paid and rewarded' for their hard work - writing a novel doesn't get you paid. It needs to be successfully marketed, too. And in today's environment, authors still can successfully market their works, but it has to be said that they're more likely to succeed if they have a good understanding of the environment in which they are marketing their works.

    Now, as to 'free': I like free. Free is great. I like legal, and fortunately for me much of what I like is free and legal. The Baen Free Library, for example, has filled many a long afternoon for me. I've also spent a lot of money there over time, because it's cheaper than the paper version, convenient, DRM-free and generally meshes perfectly with my interests. Those who market most effectively in this environment are those who realise that 'free' and 'profit' are not necessary incompatible - that a bit of one can net you a good amount of the other.

    But let us be realistic - thinking about how to market effectively to the 'freetards' who allegedly make up about 23% of the UK, that's a lot of work. And it's possible that many companies would fail on the way. And most content providers are risk-averse, especially when they have the alternative option offered by legislation that 'helps to give them back their rights'.

    So tell me, what makes intellectual property 'industry' people so extraordinarily special that, unlike the hard-working people in my region who just lost their jobs to Kraft and the RBS, the government will bother lifting a finger to save them from having to get a second job to feed your Starbucks addictions? What's so extraordinarily important about them that they are considered to be more significant than the rights of British citizens? Is there something sacred about being 'a creative'[1], something that privileges them from all of the other industries out there that have been allowed to fail? Is it that 'creative' is cool and sexy and Hollywood, whereas farming is just muddy and unexciting, mining was grimy and foul, and who really cares if chocolate is made in Poland? It is extraordinary to me just how self-entitled this industry is - in my personal opinion, it needs a good slapping.

    [1] Note: By 'creative', read 'industry-sponsored content creator'. There's an important distinction there, especially in the context of this bill.

  • Comment number 63.

    "it’s about helping give back the right for people to be paid and rewarded for the hard work which goes into making films and tv programmes, and ensuring we can all continue to enjoy a wide range of films and tv programmes in the future."

    Was there a time when that right was taken away? I must have missed the passage of that particular bill.

    The content industry has been crying wolf about piracy since the days of "Home Taping Is Killing Music". It is under no threat whatsoever, and this bill is about corporate profit, not protecting artists. Nobody has done more to rip off artists for the last 40 years than the recording industry.

  • Comment number 64.

    It’s not that I think the Digital Economy Bill is unimportant; it’s that I think its unmanageable and unworkable in its present form.
    I don’t know why the UK Government feels the need to push the Digital Economy Bill so quickly. Why does it have to be law before the election?
    The "wash up" period
    - does not allow for any additions;
    - allows only deletion(s).
    To ram through such a controversial bill, without any in depth consultation with consumers or industry, is asking for trouble.
    There seem to be so many important loose ends. The situation begs for debate and consultation e.g.
    What will be the appeal process for those who are banned from using the Internet, and will such a ban even hold up, considering a persons right to information.
    This is no way to put together important legislation. I have the impression that there will be much hoopla about this once the Digital Economy Bill has been signed and it is too late to make the required changes.

  • Comment number 65.

    Over 20,000 people lobbied MPs, sadly less than 50 MPs were in the chamber (whilst I was watching at least) to take part in the debate. I look forward to seeing the names of those that actually turned up and took part - it will be easy to see from this just how sincere the "concerned" MPs replying to correspondence about this bill actually were (does Hansard report the names of those present for the debate and not just going through the lobby for the vote?).

    I trust all potential voters will take note!


    @61 as for the bill not being about taking people's rights away, I dont remember agreeing to surrender my right to being innocent until proven guilty to an MP, member of the Lords or a quango and having instead to prove my innocence. A high price to pay to protect a small part of the so-called creative industry.

    As stated many times in above posts, the irony is that many of those people actually infringing copyright on peer-to-peer networks will be more than capable of using encryption etc to mask their activities anyway. Until we have members of the House that actually understand technology we're unlikely to get sensible or effective legislation.

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm a web developer, which means I upload quite a bit of data, especially when I'm working with videos or flash content, and also download a lot of stock photography sites. I get lots of letters almost every month from my ISP saying I download to much or upload to much, despite repeatedly telling them I need to do this for my living / job. I have a unlimited package, which when I took it out had no fair usage plan (main reason got broadband from them), but which changed a couple of months afterwards. (I've complained to them about this.)

    I'm wondering If this bill is passed will they see me, a legitimate user who uses broadband for work, (and occasionally for xbox 360 live gaming), as someone who is downloading and uploading too much, and therefore must be doing illegal actions?

    Also we use torrent technology to send password protected compressed files, which contain code and other stuff such as graphics or flash content, which is needed for work.

    The xbox 360 uses similar technology to send / receive data as downloading a torrent file. Does this mean that all xbox 360 users will have their broadband taken away? After all data packets are just binary in the end (0 & 1)'s. How do you differentiate between illegal and legal users... Also because we use torrents for sharing of legal files between each other, will this be classed as downloading illegal content, (even though totally legal)?

    These are just some of the reasons why I personally think the bill is a hugely bad idea!! and should be scrapped straight away, or thought about with extreme care. As I personally cannot do my job without it!! I also know that thousands of people around the UK download and upload similar amounts to me, for totally legitimate reasons, and depend on their connection!!

    The MP's who are pushing this bill only need / rely on the internet for email and the occasional sending or receiving documents.
    They don't necessarily understand the needs of people from the digital creative industry.

  • Comment number 67.

    This is a massively important Bill and it should not be rushed through in the so called 'wash-up' process. The fact that the current Government is doing so is incredibly foolish.

  • Comment number 68.

    This bill will have little effect on illegal file sharing as the more active down-loaders will move to alternative methods, e.g. encrypted VPN, which cannot be monitored by the ISPs.

    Also, I can't wait to see the first tabloid headline when an innocent person gets their internet cut off because someone has used their wireless connection without their knowledge.

  • Comment number 69.

    As [whichever] Government introduce more and more controls on what can and cannot be done online, the technically savvy amoungst us will find newer methods of combatting the restrictions.

    Already encrypted Torrenting and VPNs defeat modern packet shaping and deep packet inspection. There is no way to stop people whose sole curiosity is to beat the system.

    You will only alienate those people who cannot digitally defend themselves.

  • Comment number 70.

    This Canute-like bill is a waste of everybody's time. I'm afraid that the media establishment just doesn't get it. Genies, bottles, toothpaste, tubes. Guys, it's done.

    If you block it one way it will happen some other way. There are already freewares out that there that take file sharing into the encrypted domain, and the content of these cannot be detected by ISPs. Any detection of filesharing done in that way would have to be on data volumes, and gaining proof from that alone would breach all kinds of rights and codes.

    I'll say this again (just in case anyone concerned with this in Parliament is really listening now). Read my lips: "When it comes to digital media, if you can play it or view it, it can be pirated: And there's no point in producing digital media that you can't play". Okay? Get over it. Reform the copyright laws to recognise this new reality if you want something useful to do.

    It's actually pretty easy to find artists who embrace the changes Internet has brought, what a shame the BBC hasn't headlined interviews with them? So far I've only seen interviews with people who want to turn back the clock and pretend digital media never happened.

    Musicians, especially, need to realise that the days when they could sign up with a monopoly channel to market (a record company) and reap fantastically disproportionate rewards in perpetuity, are passing.

    Alan T

  • Comment number 71.

    Can sombody explain to me, how, with the government's shift to promote everything to be on-line. Including taxation, licencing, communication and business. Can it then justify, disconnecting any person's or businesses access to the internet?

    Surely this is the equiventent to poking someone's eyes out with a sharp stick, because they saw something they shouldn't have.

  • Comment number 72.

    The problem I have with this legislation is the fact that the content industry can accuse without penalty! As an extreme example, say they sent a list of 10% of the ISPs addresses to it accusing them of downloading, each month for a year. They've now accused all the users, which is wrong, what penalty applies for this false accusation?

    None. Please carry on with you false accusations -which by law we have pass on. Even if an ISP/User can prove that they can't download on a particular device (e.g. printer) the content industry are free to carry on accusing, without any recourse. No libel nor wasting police time harge could be applied.

    And this is supposed to be a fair and balanced approach?

  • Comment number 73.

    Something I feel has to be mentioned about the "debate" yesterday afternoon (I watched all of it via BBC Parliament): At the busiest point there were 22 MPs in the chamber, going down to just 11 at one point. Not only that but as 10pm (voting time) approached a number of MPs who had not been in attendance at all began to appear, having ignored all aspects of the debate.

    Now, the Lib Dems claimed they'd be opposing the bill yet only one showed up for the debate and spoke..... and subsequently supported the bill.

    Those that argued against the bill throughout the evening (the BBC report is correct, a number did argue against it) STILL voted to pass it for a third reading come 10pm (from what I heard not ONE MP voted "Nay"), so for those who have written to their MP and have received a response claiming they'll be objecting to it: They lied to you.

    The 3rd reading is today, where the grand total of two hours has been earmarked for the report stage and final debate (for a comparison: The Lords had a 7 day report stage alone). Should they fast-track this (and all signs from both Harriet Harman and Stephen Timms - who argued possibly the most RIDICULOUS "Black and white" argument I've heard in a long time ('we can either act on filesharing, or be seen to do nothing' was his justification for forcing the bill through, even with the ridiculously controversial Clause 43 still intact, suggest this will happen) it could be passed by 10pm tonight.

    A typical display of what our MPs have become. More concerned with their own and business interests than the general public who elect them into their £65k a year jobs in the first place. I hope we all remember this come May 6th...

  • Comment number 74.


    During the debate, much was made of the "billions" lost to the creative industries...are Big Media so stupid as to believe that "Frankie Freebooter" will suddenly commence spending rather than finding alternate ways to get stuff for free? I very much doubt that he will.

    That to one side, my own online activities are beyond reproach, but I have a concern that legitimate, legal P2P traffic will, in some cases be flagged as illegal.

    In addition, the provisions of the DEB, taken in conjunction with ACTA will oblige ISPs to identify users to "rights holders", on demand from BPI, RIAA et. al.

    I foresee much wailing and gnashing of teeth before some of the resulting civil cases are sorted out.

    The whole thing smacks of legislation being oiled through to bolster an archaic business model, and I for one don't like it.

    Is the internet destined to become no more than a shop-front for old business?

  • Comment number 75.

    The post makes it sounds like the Bill's opponents are a load of shouting bullies trying to get their way, while the poor little meek music and film companies are having their voices drowned out. This completely overlooks the fact that the leaders of that industry regularly dine ministers on their yachts, and have some of the wealthiest "stars" lobbying on their behalf. Those opposing the bill have to do what they can to get their message across in the face of the cosiness between the industries and politicians.

    As with most issues, most people don't care about the outcome. Yet if you asked them in a referendum whether they wanted more money to go to large corporations, and for the type of content available online to be restricted, we know what the answer would be.

  • Comment number 76.

    As well as all the misgivines regarding disconnection, I understand the Bill also provides for the abolition of FM radio. I have never met anyone who wants this. I have never met anyone who things that this is a good idea. Who does?

    Apart from people who sell radios of course. I've got about nine in my house/car, only two of which are DAB.

  • Comment number 77.

    The very day I receive a letter from my ISP I will pull the plug and never use the Internet again. What's the point of having an internet that is regulated by Govn at home. I've been on the internet nearly every day since 2002. I've enjoyed nearly all of it. Kerb it now you may as well kerb it all together, I say.

  • Comment number 78.

    68. At 11:46pm on 06 Apr 2010, Keith wrote:

    This bill will have little effect on illegal file sharing as the more active down-loaders will move to alternative methods, e.g. encrypted VPN, which cannot be monitored by the ISPs.



    VPN' are useless. They can block it. That's the whole point of the bill. If your downloading Gigabytes of information then they know your either watching BBC iPlayer or an equivalent or filesharing. Either way they still have to prove who you were connected to when, where, why, how, what? Only problem is if someone spoofs your ip. If this happens you will be in trouble even though you haven't done anything. So, the answer is to disconnect from your ISP as soon as you receive a letter from your ISP. Stuff the internet if you can't do as you please I say!

  • Comment number 79.

    You may call me slow but I've just realised why both labour and conservatives are so keep on the digital switchover to DAB radio.

    The treasury will collect around £3bn in VAT receipts for these new radios as well as the corportation & income tax and NI contributions from all the jobs required to make switchover happen/radios be sold etc.

    Where do I get £3bn from?

    The government have totally misled MPs in the realistic costs to households as they are force to throw away their perfectly good FM radios and replace them with very expensive DAB radios.

    The government commissioned Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) to produce a Cost Benefit Analysis CBA Report which includes totally unrealistic estimates for the cost to consumers.

    During the second reading of the Digital Economy Bill yesterday it was mentioned that it will cost £800m for consumers to upgrade to DAB radios. This is also mentioned in the DEB "Impact Assessment Report" This is totally misleading.

    The PWC report base their figures on each household buying a SINGLE DAB radio today for £25 (reducing to £20 by switchover date). They do not mention the reluctance of consumers to replace their £200 hi-fi in their living room with a nasty and cheap £25 radio. The cost to consumers must be calculated on a ‘like-for-like’ basis if the user is maintain a level of quality/service.

    According to the BBC, the average household has 6 radios. A quick survey of average prices in the shops means it will cost the following. (very rough figures but I suspect I am underestimating).

    · A half decent hifi for the living room £150
    · A radio for the kitchen (more likely a cheaper hifi these days). £100
    · A clock radio in the bedroom £50
    · A portable radio for around the house and garden £50
    · A cheaper hifi in the kids bedroom £100
    · A personal radio for 'on the move'. £50

    It may be argued that a household could use their Freeview television to listen to radio but TVs consume much more power than radios and are hardly portable.

    We also must not forget the car radio and the new DAB aerial it will require. £250 (I've excluded the ridiculous option of a DAB/FM adapter for the car because of all the wires involved and the ease with which it can be stolen)

    Total Cost per Household £750.
    Of course, we may choose not to replace some of these radios but that leads to a loss of service for the consumer. In order to keep costs down, which radios will we give up. The clock radio by our bed? The hi-fi in the living room. Perhaps we prefer to cook in silence in the kitchen.

    Total number of households in the UK 25million
    Total Expenditure £18bn (£750 x 25million)


    No wonder the electronics industry is so excited about digital radio switchover. It is interesting to note that the top selling brands of DAB radios include Pure Digital, Roberts & Revo. All British companies. Is this bill about increasing their revenue and so tax revenues?

    It is also interesting to note that UK company “Frontier Silicon Ltd” (who design and manufacture the silicon chips needed in DAB radios) dominates the market. In 2007, their chipsets were used in 80% of DAB radios (I have been unable to find more recent figures).

    When a single company dominates the market we don't tend to see prices coming down very quickly. When the vast majority of the world continue to use analogue radio we will not see the economies of scale that would see the price of DAB radios reducing to the level of analogue radios. Indeed, the PWC report does not expect the price of DAB radios to reach that of analogue radios until the year 2030!

    By my (very rough) calculations, that £18bn cost for new radios is equivalent to over 2pence increase in the basic rate of income tax rate for the average household. Of course, it will be the poorer families that are hardest hit.

    Every government bill should include a carbon footprint analysis to stop our planet dying. Replacing 150million radios is such a tremendous waste.

    Finally, I would like to say again that government figures for consumer cost have been based on each household buying a SINGLE £25 DAB radio (reducing to £20) for their ENTIRE home and perhaps an FM/DAB converter for their car (which needs a new aerial too btw). I don’t know about you but I don’t want to throw out the 10 perfectly working radios we current use in our house and have to share a single £25 tinpot radio that will probably break in a couple of years.

    The PWC report is totally misleading. It’s a simple case of mathematics to work out the true cost. You just have to use realistic prices of DAB radios in the equation.

    The whole thing is scandalous. The listeners aren't demanding it. The broadcasters are (eg you won't see much criticism from the BBC) since it will save them a few millions pounds. But it will cost the consumers BILLIONS of pounds.
    Scandalous!!!

  • Comment number 80.

    75. At 1:36pm on 07 Apr 2010, Jonathan wrote:

    >> The post makes it sounds like the Bill's opponents are a load of shouting bullies trying to get their way, while the poor little meek music and film companies are having their voices drowned out.

    Well, I wouldn't worry about it. As I said in an earlier post, I'm afraid that the promoters of this bill are overlooking that central digital media reality: if it can be played, it can be pirated. This has been proven time and time again.

    Wanna prove it now? Hold down the ALT key on your keyboard (windows users) now press the PrtScrn button and release both buttons. Now open up MS Word or an image editor like Paint and press CTRL/V. Now, what if you hadn't just "pirated" this screen (which, technically, I guess you have?), but you had pirated a copyrighted protected photograph?

    What about watching clips on YouTube, or iPlayer, utilities exist to do a video version of what you just did above. Or, for heaven's sake you could just hold any old camcorder up to a flat screen to get a copy of the content, or hold a microphone up to the speaker, or use a sound recorder to re-record the sound digitally as you watch something online, or.... let me count the ways.

    My point is that there are just so many ways to copy digital media now, this legislation addresses just one of them. Back in the old days, people were happy pointing a microphone at a radio and taping music, then later they were hi-speed copying tape to tape using cassettes, so even if they had to go back to some digital version of that, they would do.

    I WANT artists and content creators to get proportionately rewarded for their efforts, but this is not the way to achieve that.

    The media cartels that prevailed up until the Internet (and which want to prevail again) operated a monopolistic gravy train that completely bent entertainment out of shape (read Louis Barfe's book) and which completely disproportionately rewarded their stars, deliberately slowed or throttled technical innovation, and sheltered their monopoly behind copyright laws that resulted in grotesque market distortions. Those companies need to rethink their business models and evolve from being owners of channels to market and sole conduit to the public ear/eye and look for new reasons to be and to prosper. If they don't, digital Darwinism will do it for them, but not in a nice way - Digital Economy Bill or not.

    I say again (yes, I know I sound like a stuck loop): If digital media can be played, it can be pirated, and there's no point in creating digital media that you can't play.

    Alan T

  • Comment number 81.

    Dear Mr/Mrs wireless printer

    You have been very naughty and have downloaded the latest craptastic style over story film, please pay us £500 or risk going to court where our foolproof secret methods of checking downloads of copyrighted files won't be questioned as being completely and utterly rubbish as IP addresses can no way be cloned and inserted into download logs etc etc.

    Failure to pay will mean your internet access will be cut and your phone number blacklisted until we can be asked to drag you to court to be thrown out because you are in fact a printer, but in the meanwhile you can purchase a range of pay-as-you-go 3G datasticks to carry on until the law gets changed to ban the sale of such items. Have a nice day

    Some lawyer looking for a quick buck

    --------

    Is it too early to say RIP open public wireless hotspots and to internet cafes?

  • Comment number 82.

  • Comment number 83.

    Apparently the bill has now been past last night. My point is It beggars belief that we have been crying out for years on ways to stop indecent child porn from being up and downloaded to no avail. But as soon as the capitalist corperations step in and start whinging about lost revenue, low and behold the governments step up to the plate. Does this not show that the powers that be are just meer puppets for these capitalist corperations. I am currently studying History and Politics, I have carried out indepth research on how governments are run and who actually has power and the above point is what I have tended to find.
    Democracy is only in place when it suits a government.MONEY TALKS, always has, always will.

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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