UK GOVERNMENT PLANS to block web sites that media rights holders do not like came to an end this week when the great thinkers in the House of Commons finally realised what the rest of us knew all along, that it was a really, really stupid idea.
Recently it was revealed, although we suspected it all along, that draconian plans that favoured big media companies were behind the Digital Economy Act in the first place, so it is not surprising that the Act includes some pretty nasty business and nor is it surprising that most of those plans, though evil and dastardly, were unworkable.
Such things included the right, more or less, for these rights holders to demand that internet service providers send out letters to their subscribers, based on flimsy evidence, that they had allegedly 'stolen' material that probably wasn't worth paying for in the first place, and that they could decide what web sites to block and when.
Is this surprising? Well, not really. The long established relationship between publishers and the public, that we can pay to access something they have created but that we will never actually own a copy of it, is coming to an end, and although recycled 'best of' albums from septuagenarian rockers at £15 a throw are still slightly tempting, they aren't as tempting as they were ten or twenty years ago.
As any decent rock musician will tell you, touring is where you make your money, as an artist anyway, and all CD sales really do is give music companies more money to steal for themselves.
Music buying has changed these days, and the CD is no longer as alluring or, ironically, as expensive as it once was. Singles are where it's at, or downloads to be more precise, while music - so the kids tell us - is mostly underground now and probably far removed from the men in suits.
But despite music being liberated by new technology the old guard still wants to keep its hands on it, and has sought to do so through the Digital Economy Act, as well as with the intervention of technical restrictions like the software encryption schemes of digital restrictions management.
It was out of this pressing need to keep talentless people in the lifestyle they have become accustomed to by exploiting talented people that the DEA was born. However, unfortunately for its parents, this bastard child isn't maturing very well.
This week the Government released its response to the earlier Hargreaves Report, a document that echoed many of the concerns that have been voiced by the rest of the country, but this response had the added credence of actually being accepted in the House of Commons.
In the response, and almost as an aside, it was revealed that plans to block web sites have been postponed for now. This is despite, though perhaps it should be seen as a reaction to, the announcement that BT had blocked the Newzbin2 web site earlier this month following requests from rights holders and the ruling of a High Court judge.
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