Digital Britain Report: Blank Promises, Vague Statements And Everything Is Hedged…
from the politics-today dept
The long awaited (and somewhat delayed) Digital Britain interim report has been released, and, like the Gowers Report on intellectual property before it, this one seems way too “balanced” for its own good. That is, it seems to avoid taking a really significant stand on anything. For example, it says that the country should have universal broadband (of at least 2 Mbps), but doesn’t explain how. It just offers up some vague statements about hoping that private sector ISPs reach that goal, and urging the BBC to promote the wonders of broadband to those who haven’t signed up yet.
The same sort of vague uselessness is found in the part on copyright and file sharing. While there were early fears that the report would urge the government to force ISPs to become copyright cops, that turns out not to be the case… sort of. Instead, the report seems to take both sides of the issue. First it seems to admonish the Big Content industries for failing to adapt to new markets and new technologies: “The core ethos, and success, of the internet to date lies in its ability to stimulate shared ideas and content,” and suggests that rather than relying on copyright and lawsuits, they should be exploring new business models that allow “for innovation in platforms, devices and applications that make use of content and that respond to consumers’ desire to access content in the time and manner they want, allowing them to use it how they want, and at a price they are willing to pay.”
That sounds good… but then in a nod to those companies it just told need to figure out another business model, it says: “counter-piracy measures and effective rights enforcement are an ‘important element’ of upholding creative copyright and content ownership,” and then promises to eventually force ISPs to be copyright cops, anyway. In other words, look at new business models, but if you don’t, the government is still going to protect your old business model.
Basically, it’s hard to feel too much one way or another about this report. It seems to promise everything and nothing, and insist that changes need to be made, while promising to protect those who don’t change. It’s perhaps not surprising in a political document, but it’s hard to see the document as being anything more than fluffy nothingness at this point.