Digital Economy Act Is Here To Stay So Cut It Some Slack

Opponents of the Digital Economy Act need to give the legislation time to bed in and demonstrate it can work. We have long struggled with rampant internet piracy, together with other intellectual property rights holders and that debate did appear to have taken a step forward when this Act was passed earlier in the year.

But what we are now seeing is a rear guard action by some – including a Judicial Review by members of the ISP community plus a potential move to undermine its credibility and legal framework from within Parliament.

Recent research by independent organisations has found that 70% of file-sharers would cease their activities if they received a warning letter about their illegality. If this happens that leaves only the serious, serial infringers to deal with which would make the task of reduction in theft somewhat more manageable.

The formation of the DEAPPG, an all party parliamentary group based in Portcullis House, Westminster, is the latest to monitor the outcomes of the Act. While we fully support the Act and the provisions it contains in relation to the protection of intellectual property, we will continue to fully participate in any Parliamentary forums, which choose to debate the Act’s anti piracy conditions.

It was always my hope that the graduated response provisions of this Act will be proportionate and drive traffic towards legitimate downloads. What can be wrong with that? I’ve consistently called for behaviour change. I know that when people are challenged, they change their behaviour. An inevitable part of the legislative framework must discourage people from taking the illicit route. At this time of economic pressure it is great news for the country too, since more legitimate sales will mean more tax revenue and more workers in employment – everyone wins.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Ed Vaizey MP has been charged with overseeing the implementation of the Digital Economy Act as a go-between for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Vaizey will be responsible for implementing the copyright enforcement that the Digital Economy Act makes possible. Minister for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, has been reported as saying that the Digital Economy Act is here to stay.

Vaizey has a tough task ahead of him. The UK now has an online culture of ‘free’, even when not. This harms those working hard to produce generally high quality but sometimes expensive software, taking much time to research and develop. For users there is a risk that malware, including viruses, may be downloaded rather than the genuine item. The provisions of the Act must be allowed to have a chance to work for benefits to be seen.

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John Lovelock has been with the Federation Against Software Theft since December 2002, having run his own business and several others at Managing Director and General Manager levels for twelve years in the UK after many years in business in South Africa. He was Chairman of the Alliance Against Intellectual Property Theft’s Digital Group for several years until, at his recommendation, it was taken back into the main body of the Alliance. The Digital Group included the music, film, games, software, publishing and copyright licensing industry sectors, and was responsible for lobbying Government on law changes to protect their members rights, as well as education and profile of the digital content industry within the employer organisations such as the CBI and FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) as well as the Institute of Directors (IoD). From his knowledge gained in the IT Sector and legal issues surrounding IT Compliance, Software Asset Management (SAM) and Software Licence Management (SLM) within The Federation, coupled with a vast experience in commercial businesses, John offers a down-to-earth, entertaining, succinct blend to presentations.