Report – UK Government Won’t Repeal Digital Economy Act After All

Yesterday, we reported that the government wants to repeal parts of the Digital Economy Act. Today, there was a conflicting report from a one site that says that the government might just leave the act alone instead.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

The report comes from PaidContent, which suggests that the Conservatives are not willing to repeal parts of the Digital Economy Act.

“We’re not going to repeal it,” the new UK government’s Conservative culture secretary Jeremy Hunt told paidContent:UK.

Instead, the administration will wait to see how the act’s measures perform and, if alterations or something more is needed, take action later, Hunt said.

It’s an interesting report because the previous report shows that the Liberal Democrats, the other part of the coalition government, had a motion from a conference which said the following:

Conference condemns:

i) Website-blocking and disconnecting internet connections as a response to copyright infringement.

ii) The threat to the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals and businesses from the monitoring of their internet activity, the potential blocking of their websites and the potential termination of their internet connections, which could lead to the closure of internet hotspots

iii) The Digital Economy Bill for focusing on illegal file-sharing rather than on nurturing creativity

Conference supports:

a) The principle of net neutrality, through which all content, sites and platforms are treated equally by user access networks participating in the Internet.

b) The rights of creators and performers to be rewarded for their work in a way that is fair, proportionate and appropriate to the medium.

If the Conservative component of the coalition government won’t support repealing critical flaws in the Digital Economy Act, then it’s going to be hard for the Liberal Democrats to find traction to repeal parts of the act because it was the Labour party that produced this bill in the first place.

We already know that the Digital Economy Act will disconnect users accused of copyright infringement three times. Even though there is an appeals process, it involves an expensive court process. We also know that the cost of enforcing the Digital Economy Act will push the costs on to consumers who will see a rise in their subscription fees and possibly disconnect up to 1000 users before the first letter is even sent.

What may be the only positive thing to come out of the Digital Economy Act is that other countries will have a ring-side seat to the show of what happens when an absolutely horrible idea of a law is enacted at the beck and call of the major record labels. Already, it’s shaping up to be a monumental disaster for citizens in the UK and it’s still in the early days of the Act being implemented. The worst part is that nowhere in all of this will artists see any new revenue out of all of this. A few lawyers might get some handsome paychecks and consumers might get angry at the labels and possibly take their anger out on artists as well, and we’ll no doubt see the UK ISPs revenue take a huge hit since the Act doesn’t involve smaller ISPs, but nothing good seems to be forthcoming from the act since smart file-sharers know where to get free content without getting caught.

Balling up the innocent with the guilty is never a good approach to solving any problem and that’s precisely what this Act does. Things can only get worse from here. At least one part of the coalition government understands the disasters that will unfold.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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