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120A kicked into touch but Digital Economy Bill still likely to cost ISPs half a billion #digitalbritain

The Digital Economy Bill passed through the House of Lords this week after completing its Third Reading. During the debate the Government kicked Lib Dem amendment 120A into touch.

This was the one on blocking of websites illegally containing copyright content and which caused an uprising of the internet industry last week. Lord Young speaking for the Government commented that “the clause was not enforceable and was incompatible with the Technical Standards Directive”.

The Government did commit to proposing a compromise clause that could give the Secretary of State power to “consult on blocking measures”. The debate in full can be found here.

In laymans terms this potentially gives Lord Mandelson (or whoever sits in that seat in a couple of months time) the ability to take power into his own hands… hmm… Not much better than 120A was suggesting in many people’s minds. These things are best handled by court judges, as indeed is the current position in Law.

The First Reading of the Bill in the House of Commons also took place this week and the date for the Second Reading is yet to be confirmed. As I have previously mentioned on a few occasions now due to the shortage of Parliamentary time before the election the Bill is likely to undergo very little scrutiny at the Second Reading before the front benches consider the Bill during wash-up (stitch-up).

Interesting to note that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has also updated its Digital Ecomomy Bill Impact Assessment. The report estimates a cost to ISPS of £290-500 million with a benefit to rights holders of £1,700 million.

The report also admits that the costs and benefits of Clause 18 have not been subject to prior consultation due to the limited time between the introduction of the clause and the finalisation of the impact assessment. In laymans terms what this says is that they haven’t really considered whether this part of the DEB is worth the effort.

A recently leaked Music Industry letter to Rights-Holders discussed the fact that when it comes to pursuing online copyright infringers any cost sharing that might be agreed would be split 75% Music Industry/25% ISPs. I can now see where they got this figure from. Foot – Gun – Bang.  They are after 50/50 share of the costs which on the face of it doesn’t seem fair. In fact if the RH benefits is almost £2Bn as suggested and the costs to ISPs are £0.5 Billion there seems to me to be a strong case for RHs to pay all the costs as is, (and I might be wrong here) currently the law.

The perceived benefits to Rights-Holders has also to be taken with a degree of caution here. What they are saying is that if you stop people from downloading music (& movies etc) illegally they will start paying for it instead. It also presupposes that the measures under consideration will actually stop copyright infringement. During the Panorama programme on the BBC this week it was clearly suggested it wouldn’t.

Meanwhile the UK Performing Rights Society for Music, which represents songwriters, composers and music publishers, announced this week a 2.6 per cent rise in annual revenues to £623m and a growth in online revenues from legal licensed digital music services from 72.7 per cent to £30.4m.


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Lib Dems Spring Conf Emergency Motion against amendment 120A carried unanimously #digitalbritain

People closely following the Amendment 120A debate at the Lib Dem Spring Conference will already know that the Emergency Motion was carried unanimously (apart from one vote I understand).

I am reporting it here for the record and following on from yesterday’s short post announcing it. You can read a bit more on the Lib Dem website here.

The Digital Economy Bill is going right to the wire I feel.

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Lib Dems to vote on Digital Economy Bill amendment 120A at spring conf this weekend #digitalbritain

An Emergency Motion against the Digital Economy Bill amendment 120A has been tabled at the Liberal Democrats Spring Conference in Manchester this weekend.

Obviously I’ll keep us all updated but it may make next week quite interesting on the Parliamentary front if the motion is carried.

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Industry unites against 120A #DigitalBritain

News is distributed so quickly these days (thanks to us ISPs) that by the time us ISPs finish doing the day job and get around to writing up the blog it almost seems like old news already. However in the interest of completeness (ish) of content on on the subject of the Digital Economy Bill I’m going to post it anyway.

Following on from my comments last week regarding the outrage amongst ISPs over clause 120A the industry has united and written a letter published in the FT this morning.  The signatories are a roll call of the heaviest hitters in the internet in the UK and include ISPA – drafts were circulated to us for comment on Monday.

It will be simply scandalous if 120A proceeds after this. Coincidentally and as a bit of an aside one of the consequences of 120A would be potentially to slow down the aforementioned lightening distribution of said news.  Half the websites concerned could be blocked!

To the letter

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Houston we have a problem – Digital Economy Bill amendment 120A #Digital Britain

The ISP industry is up in arms today as the House of Lords yesterday rushed through ill considered amendment 120A to the Digital Economy Bill proposing to allow rights holders to serve notice on ISPs to block access to sites considered by them (rightsholders) to have illegal content – music, movies, software etc.

This is a huge issue.  Rightsholders would be able to ask ISPs to block sites without a court order. If an ISP refuses and the rightsholder subsequently succeeds in getting a court injunction then the ISP will have to pay costs.