Eleanor McHugh (feyeleanor) wrote,
Eleanor McHugh

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Letter to my MP regarding the Digital Economy Bill

Dear Andrew Love,

Thank you very much for your letter dated 22nd March in response to my email enquiry concerning the Digital Economy Bill.

I understand that the Digital Economy Bill will receive its second reading in the House of Commons on April 6th following which it could well be passed without further scrutiny as part of the washing up process prior to the forthcoming General Election.

With the institution of Parliament already in such low regard amongst the electorate I'm frankly mystified that MPs are taking such a cavalier approach to legislation which appears to disproportionately favour a narrow special interest group (in particular the BPI) whilst at the same time introducing a new statutory instrument allowing future modification of copyright law without recourse to Parliament.

The major record labels have long been a joke in the digital economy, not because anyone wishes to 'steal' the content they publish but because of their inability to adapt to changing circumstances and determination to criminalise their potential customer base rather than provide the products and services which the market is overwhelmingly crying out for.

For a piece of legislation which is supposed to promote innovation in this sphere to further entrench their antiquated business models at the expense of the much greater economic benefit to be gained from embracing new technologies seems perverse in the extreme.

I have personally worked on a digital distribution project in collaboration with Virgin Media and the major record labels which would have brought customers the convenience they desire whilst at the same time protecting the intellectual property rights of the record labels. Today's illegal down-loaders would have been converted into tomorrow's loyal customers. Unfortunately that project was cancelled in February of last year.

Not I should point out because of any lack of a market or of opportunity for all concerned to profit, but because the additional protections demanded by these same record labels (which in any event would not have provided any greater technical security) made it impossible for Virgin Media to profit from running the service.

And if Virgin Media can't reach a workable deal with these dinosaurs, what hope for any smaller company?

As to the three-strikes aspect of the legislation, the lack of technical clue amongst Parliamentarians in general is just staggering.

Not only are consumer-grade wireless networks fundamentally insecure, so to is the Windows operating system which the majority of personal computers in this country utilise. Co-opting either to illegally download copyrighted media is trivial for those of appropriate disposition, as is removing any forensic trace of their having done so.

Nor for that matter can the identity of the computer or computers performing such downloads be ascertained beyond reasonable doubt or even on the balance of probability unless the latter is defined in such a manner as to presume guilt with the burden of proving innocence falling squarely on the shoulders of the accused. That hardly seems a favourable addition to English Law.

Then there's Clause 43 which effectively destroys private photographic copyright. Not only is this a priori an incredibly stupid idea, as a software developer I'm greatly concerned that a few years down the road the same rules will be extended to cover copyrighted works in other media. If this is not to be the case it also raises the question of what is so special about photographic works that their creators should be so disproportionately singled out in this manner?

Frankly this is bad legislation, rushed through Parliament with inadequate scrutiny, and it reflects poorly on MPs that the majority are not demanding their right to rectify the glaring defects in its construction.

I trust that when the Digital Economy Bill receives its second reading you will register your opposition to its proceeding further.

Yours sincerely,

Eleanor McHugh
Tags: debill, politics

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