The UK is an island, and they say islands are different. In many cases the UK is different from the rest of Europe. They drive on the left for instance. And they are still using the Pound and not the Euro. We can live with that, because we love the Brits. We would even consider moving to the UK because they are a bit ahead of us when it comes to Internet development.
But now the UK government seems to have driven on the left side a bit too much, they must be seeing things the wrong way. Yesterday a Bill passed the House of Lords which will change the UK Internet for ever if it also passes the House of Commons: the “Piracy Bill”, part of the Digital Economy Bill. The passing of the House of Lords however is the most important step. If the Bill makes it many in the UK might just lose their internet access or see their website taken down.
What is the Bill about?
The Digital Bill is mostly about copyright. In an attempt to protect copyright infringements on the web the conservatives, in this case led by Lord Lucas, proposed an amendment which includes controversial elements. It could “threaten freedom of speech and the open internet”.
The amendment is meant to cut short illegal file-sharers and force ISPs to block pirated content, but in that attempt gives high court judges the right to “issue an injunction against a website accused of hosting copyright infringing material.” Which means they can take down any site they want. The opposition has tried to make changes to the amendment making sure that not every site can be taken down to easily, but the changes weren’t all accepted.
The Bill is summarized like this:
One very embarrassing thing about the amendment is that apparently it has been copied entirely almost word-for-word from a paper designed for the music industry.
What does it mean if the Bill goes through?
What does it mean if this Bill makes it all the way? For one thing, it will lead to a lot of questions and possibly a lot of law suits. Some other things that might happen:
- It could mean that many sites can be taken down under the suspicion of copyright infringement
- Internet access of households or organizations could be in danger if they have been used for file sharing. A lot of libraries and universities could then be in big trouble
- Other things I’m not sure of, it’s a difficult topic which might just bring up more issues which we cannot foresee now
Will it help?
Probably not. As the UK Pirate Party pointed out it is most likely that those who are downloading illegally will look for different ways to keep doing what they are doing. In a TalkTalk survey 80 percent of the 18 to 34 year olds it surveyed would look for other undetectable ways to download copyrighted content.
Is there a way out?
Well, there is an interesting way out. Apparently somewhere in the Bill it says:
“A provider of search engine services who acts in accordance with this section shall not be liable for any breach of copyright…”
You figure out what the way out is…
So what’s next?
The law isn’t active yet, but as said, an important step has been taken when it passed the House of Lords yesterday. It now needs to pass the House of Commons, which usually is ‘no problem’. However, the fact that there is very much opposition to the Bill will leave room for more discussion. Plus there is one other problem: the Bill is not in line with EU-regulations. It could very well be that the British will have to adapt to the EU here, or they will be the odd one out again, but hey, they are used to that.
So what do you think, is the UK doomed?Posted in News | Tags: copyright, Privacy, UK