THE HOUSE OF LORDS has passed the controversial Digital Economy Bill, amendment inclusive, that imposes on Internet service providers (ISPs) the duty of enforcing copyright protection punishments on filesharing consumers - whether they like it or not.
The third reading of the Digital Economy Bill took place yesterday at the Other Other Place and has come to pass and with a quasi-unanimous approval in the House of Lords. The long and short of it being that it "imposes obligations on Internet service providers to reduce online copyright infringement, and allows the Secretary of State to amend copyright legislation to the same end."
The controversial bill has sparked criticism from a broad spectrum of the public - whether they were concerned parents or human rights advocates - and a small pocket of said Lords who, by inherent duty or genuine concern, could believe the Bill's real target to be litigious income.
Through this Bill ISPs will enforce sanctions on subscribers without the need for a court injunction, meaning you might see your broadband subscription messed up in any manner of ways, be it cancelled, capped, bottlenecked, shaped or simply slapped with a discretionary fine for your supposed galivanting. The original text didn't even consider warning subscribers ahead of any ISP action or court injunction.
Of course the Internet is a tool of the young... and foolish, most of the time, so regardless of the fact that the Bill stampedes over consumer rights and - to some extent - basic human rights, it's the parents, that is, the account holders, who will pay the price for their childrens' indiscretions.
From the top, the Bill grants Ofcom powers of supervision and imposes on the ISPs the duty of enforcing copyright protection, all in the name of the Rights owners who will, in essence, have both private and public parties doing their work for them.
Some opponenets are still attempting to previail, with Coadec, the Open Rights Group and the Pirate Party UK all arguing that the flames of copyright infringement have been steadily fanned by baseless speculation on how much the industry has suffered, with parties throwing around numbers that are, at best, extrapolated from speculation and currently rated at a whopping £200 million a year.
In the Lords, the argument was made against the rampant disregard for Consumer rights. Lord Whitty tore into the proposal knowing full well he was standing alone, brave but ultimately futile. The Chair of Consumer Focus dished out argument after argument against a Bill that would effectively serve only the purpose of guaranteeing income to copyright owners and lawyers, all the while not promoting the development of new business models that would bring infractors back into the fold.
Ironically the Bill's staunchest advocate is the Lib-Dem Peer, Lord Clement-Jones, who seems to be costing the party more votes than he's worth by promoting the Bill.
The Pirate Party UK, one of the most public challengers to the Bill's "virtuous intent", has even pointed out that Lord Clement-Jones is a lawyer by profession and that he is in the business of making money out of these situations.
Adding to the public's concerns, the Bill stands to go through Commons un-amendable, meaning that the writing on the Bill is final. We're looking at what the Law will become.
We can't help but remark the following: My Lord, a 48-clause Bill with 430 amendments doesn't mean it's had a "fair amount of scrutiny", it means it was so abominably drafted in the first place that it had to be challenged that much.
You can read the UK's execrable soon-to-be Digital Economy Bill here. µ
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