Digital Economy Act puts UK on endangered list

The Digital Economy Bill has passed through the final stages in the Commons, as intended. Now that the bill will be a reality in the UK, what will it mean?

As anticipated by Richard Mollet, labour prospective parliamentary candidate and director of public affairs at the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the Digital Economy Bill passed through the final stages in the Commons pretty much the way the lobby group wanted it to. Now that the bill will be a reality in the UK, what will it mean?

Left Foot Forward has discussed the ramifications of the bill from a legal point of view previously, but what will be of interest is the likely direct impact on the media sector.

If the experience of Sweden is anything to go by, it is likely that media downloading will increase, but will be encrypted, which will be counterproductive for the media industry. This encryption, together with site-blocking, is also likely to disrupt the efforts of the Security Services; their concerns were alluded to in a leaked memo to music label executives by Richard Mollet last month.

Once it was obvious that the debate had been “fixed“, plans for a boycott of BPI members sprang up, together with a site to promote civil disobedience against the act. Research has shown that the very people who were “10 times more likely” to purchase digital music are now boycotting the industry in what could be the biggest consumer strike since the end of apartheid in South Africa.

Finally, Techcrunch, the defacto publication of record at the centre of the global digital economy summed up how the bill will kill UK technological innovation and strongly discourage foreign direct investment in UK digital economy businesses.

After the excitement of the election is over parliament may wish that it had paid more attention to some of Harold Wilson’s most famous words:

“The Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this revolution will be no place for restrictive practices or for outdated measures on either side of industry.”

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.