Building a valid Digital Economy

By Dawinderpal Sahota
16 Jul 2010 View Comments
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Parliament
The House of Commons sped the widely condemned Digital Economy bill into becoming an act

The Digital Economy bill has been embroiled in controversy ever since it was first conceived and the uproar surrounding it has only gained momentum since the previous government decided to speed the bill into becoming an act by putting it through the wash-up process. That Labour government was subsequently rejected by voters at the May general election.

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BT and TalkTalk are trying to repeal the Act and the House of Lords has requested the power to review the legislation, but its proponents claim it is already too late. Meanwhile, Ofcom still doesn’t know exactly what measures should be taken to uphold it and is seeking suggestions and advice from the industry.

The Westminster eForum conference earlier this week provided a platform for industry leaders to share their thoughts on the matter and give insight into the future of copyright and the so-called digital economy.

Modernisation of copyright law is overdue

The Digital Economy Act was drafted with the aim of protecting content creators’ rights. However, as more business than ever before is carried out online, it is also easier than ever before to digitally copy content. In this evolving environment, existing copyright laws are arguably outdated.

Alison Wenham OBE, chairwoman and chief executive of the Association of Independent Music, said that “the modernisation of copyright legislation is overdue”. For starters, she pointed to current legislation which deems it illegal for a consumer who has paid for a CD or digital download to transfer it to their MP3 player. Many personal music players are not equipped with internet connectivity and are designed for content to be transferred in such a way.

“There needs to be a way in which licensed intermediaries can store content on gadgets. We need to strike a balance between their objectives and ours,” said Wenham.

She said that the legislation needs to be EU-wide to be effective and revealed that the EC has been speaking about updating copyright law in Brussels.

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