Business internet piracy Regs

Lady Gaga and the Digital Economy Bill goo goo.

The Digital Economy Bill will have its third reading in the Lords next week. Thus far each clause has been debated at each reading. It isn’t possible to forecast when it will finish in the Lords – a Bill can have up to 8 readings.

So we don’t have a proper handle on the schedule yet. What is highly likely is that it will be rushed through the Commons with a firm Government Whip. Under normal conditions this would be expected to be a shoe in but it will be interesting to see how many of Labour MPs leaving the House after this election break ranks.

At yesterday’s ISPA Legal Forum the subject of copyright law and the Digital Economy Bill was discussed. The Music Industry claims that legal methods of downloading music are being promoted. It is worth noting that at the event music site 7digital stated that in order to be able to sell some music online (eg Lady Gaga was quoted) they had to negotiate 40 different licensing contracts. Talk about getting bogged down in the goo. This is not consistent with “making it easier”.

Business internet

Digital Britain Final Report delayed until end of June

A very interesting ISPA Legal Forum session this afternoon yielded quite a bit of bloggable stuff, some of which has already been covered in posts earlier this evening.

The Legal Forum format was based on a panel session that included Clive Gringras as Chair, Simon Persoff, head of Regulatory Affairs at Orange, Steve Rowan of the International Policy Directorate and Daniel Sandelson, Partner at lawyers Clifford Chance.

Firstly the Digital Britain Final Report which was meant to be out in mid May is now likely to be delayed due to the “purdah” that is applied to such publications during election times – there are both Local Government and European elections in the forthcoming months.

Secondly the formation of a Digital Rights Agency, touted as part of the initial DB Report now seems to be far from a done deal. Many of the stakeholders involved thought theRights Agency was a bad idea. The ISP industry thinks it could be ok provided it steers clear of enforcement (of the law against copyright infringement by illegal downloading).  The Music Industry thinks it is a good idea provided it only focuses on enforcement.

ISPs say that the Music Industry is trying to avoid being seen as the bad guys by getting the ISPs to do the dirty work by terminating the broadband connections of (allegedly) guilty parties. ISPs don’t want to be seen as the bad guys, say that switching off broadband connections is disproportionate and if forced to do would want to fully recover their costs from the Music Industry. 

Because Copyright Infringment is a civil offence any costs incurred in the enforcement of private commercial rights, which is what the Music Industry wants the ISPs to do, can be recovered.  In this case by the ISPs from the Music Industry.  The Music Industry is saying it won’t pay. 

This is all looking like a right buggers muddle and I can’t see how it can end amicably. All this when a Government survey (in Glasgow for what it is worth) suggested that illegal P2P downloading is rife, nay becoming mainstream.

It isn’t possible to fully distill two hours of intense and useful discussion into a short blog post but I will finish by saying that it seems to me that the Music Industry is onto a loser and needs to reinvent it’s business model which at the moment it seems incapable of doing.  In going after the ISPs it is picking the easiest target. Is a search engine (Google?!) equally responsible becasue it helps transgressors find out how they can break the law? 

As an experiment try searching on Google for “how to download free music albums”.  You will find 48,900,000 links on this subject. The cat is out of the bag and isn’t getting back in.