Who Actually Makes The Law, The Government Or The Judiciary?

Many have lambasted the decision by the High Court to grant a judicial Review of the Digital Economy Act on behalf of TalkTalk and BT. The underlying issue here is not that the Act was pushed through Parliament in the so-called ‘wash-up’ period, but that the ISPs are trying to use this as a fig-leaf for their own agendas.

It is staggering that this Act, bourn out of years of consultation, of debate and of Parliamentary time, is now being challenged in some last ditch attempt by the ISPs to ensure they are not hit financially.

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 as a potential move to undermine its credibility and legal framework through the Courts.

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.

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 have consistently called for behaviour change.

We 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.

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.