Digital Economy Bill Shoved Through With Minor Modifications

from the sorry-UK dept

As mentioned yesterday, the UK House of Commons came up with a bizarre plan to have a brief debate on the Digital Economy Bill in a “wash up” process, and then basically approve it and promise to come back and fix it later. It’s a bizarre way of doing things. Charles Arthur did a nice job blogging the debate, which mostly consisted of a bunch of MPs pointing out how ridiculous it was that this bill was being rushed through without any real debate, followed by Digital Britain Minister Stephen Timms (who has been known to not even remotely understand this issue) got up and basically said “well, too bad.” As you read through what happened, it’s almost all people protesting what’s in the bill as well as the lack of discussion on the bill, followed by Timms saying:

“My sense is that there is a pretty broad acceptance across the house… that legislation is appropriate for dealing with it. There is definitely significant harm to the creative industries… estimated at £400m for the music, film and TV industries in the impact assessment of the bill… this is a very serious problem.”

That £400 number is totally made up (apparently, at yesterday’s event various other numbers were thrown around as well). But the bigger point is that Timms is basically lying. There was not “pretty broad acceptance” in the house that the legislation was appropriate, or even that there is significant harm to the creative industries. The debate was almost entirely against the bill. Still, as with yesterday, the chambers were not particularly full for the debate, but a bunch of MPs who don’t really understand or care about this issue showed up at the end and voted, so the final tally came to: 189 votes to shove it through, and only 47 against. The only real “concession” was the dropping of the hugely controversial clause 18, giving the gov’t excessive powers to adjust copyright law in the future. Of course, when that first came out, I wondered if the whole point of clause 18 was to draw the fire of consumer groups, let it be dropped, while everything else got shoved through. It looks like that may be what happened. Update: Or not. Further analysis from folks suggests that while Clause 18 may not have made it into the bill, what was in the clause did, in fact, still make it into the bill. So it’s even worse than before. Lovely.

Those who wanted a full debate on the bill basically had no chance. Despite criticizing the bill heavily, the gov’t basically said the debate was over, and apparently those who had been debated started shouting “Nooo!!!” As Arthur writes in his live blog:

That big shout of “Nooo!!!” could have been a thousand souls crying out as one at the sight of the government shoving through 41 clauses of a bill

And there you go. The entertainment industry gets its ridiculous anti-consumer copyright law with no real attempt at debate or amendment in the House of Commons. Concerns raised about how this bill could force the blocking of Wikileaks or the shutdown of internet access at small business? Ignored.

Of course, as with every other country that passes such backwards legislation, don’t expect it to do anything to actually help the entertainment industry as it continues to seek backwards looking legislative solutions, rather than forward looking business model solutions. The legacy entertainment industry will surely celebrate this “victory,” but let’s check back in a bit and see what it did to their bottom lines.

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Comments on “Digital Economy Bill Shoved Through With Minor Modifications”

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34 Comments
Beefcake (profile) says:

This passes in the U.K. the day after J.K. Rowling states “I’m quite sure in the not-too-distant future, I will bring out another book.” When she was hungry, she was publishing a book a year. Then every other year. Now it’s been 3 years since the last (and counting).

Yep, those Harry Potter copyrights have really encouraged her to keep contributing to the arts and sciences.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This passes in the U.K. the day after J.K. Rowling states “I’m quite sure in the not-too-distant future, I will bring out another book.” When she was hungry, she was publishing a book a year. Then every other year. Now it’s been 3 years since the last (and counting).

Yep, those Harry Potter copyrights have really encouraged her to keep contributing to the arts and sciences.

This just in: writing something new takes more time and effort than writing more installments in a series you’ve already planned in detail.

On another note, I see nothing unjust at all about an author being able to live in substantial comfort of the rest of her life on her earnings from a series as successful as Harry Potter, and the possible prospects of such success certainly can’t discourage other authors.

Copyright is “supposed” to be a system that, overall, maximize the progress in the arts and sciences. It’s not supposed to maximize the output of J.K. Rowling in particular (and while I did enjoy the Harry Potter books, it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s nothing further that J.K. Rowling would write under any copyright regime that I would find worth reading).

Andrew (profile) says:

The Future

Somebody one day will start creating an internet only , unsigned artist only, top 40. Hopefully they will create something that grows as facebook or Google have grown. Then the radio stations must get on board and start airing the internet top 40. At this point the recording studios will go bankrupt and music will be free again as it was before their greed made it all about money in their pockets and not the artists.

Tim Dickinson (profile) says:

I just can’t believe such an important bill had so little discussion and what discussion there was, was those objecting to the bill trying to convince an otherwise empty house. Both the conservatives and labour just whipped this bill through – utterly depressing. Why there isn’t a rule that if you don’t come to the debates you cannot vote is beyond me.

This bill is going to cause major headaches for the digital economy it is supposed to support and only serves give the lobbyists a hollow victory. I know law has to play catch up most the time, but this one pushes the laws further away from the needs and rights of the public than where they started from.

I hope the Dark Prince Mr Mandelson gets enjoys his free holidays off the back of this. Ugh.

DJ (profile) says:

Wait....

So the way I understand this discussion is that those of you in the US are upset about this sort of thing happening, regardless of where, right?

Yeah cuz that doesn’t EVER happen here…
:::cough:healthcare:cough:::

Oh sure, that had TONS of “debate”….

Debate:a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints
Discussion: an act or instance of discussing; consideration or examination by argument, comment, etc., esp. to explore solutions

Every video clip I’ve seen has just been of Pelosi or some other progressive mocking Republicans and threatening Democrats who were against it.

I don’t mean to imply that these things happening in UK’s Parliament are unimportant, quite the opposite. What I’m saying is that if you’re going to complain about it happening overseas, complain about it happening here, too.

JackSombra (profile) says:

Re: Wait....

“Every video clip I’ve seen has just been of Pelosi or some other progressive mocking Republicans and threatening Democrats who were against it.”
And nearly every clip I have seen is Republicans talking about death panels, socialism and comparisons to Hitler

But I will agree with you, there was not much debate on healthcare because for the last year republicans were more interested in saying no to everything, spouting talking points and trying to score political points instead of actually debating anything

Difference in the UK on the DEB is there zero debate nor even really attempt at one, this really was ‘shoved down the peoples throat’

NAMELESS.ONE says:

healhcare vs copyrights

one is about cmpassion and civilization and caring for your fellow man , the other as its being legislated is about greed , coruption , laziness and doing as much harm to society before they get pissed off and revolt.

GUESS which is health care and copyright.
my bet is 99.99999999 % of you know the rest are shills that won’t admit the truth.

IM glad this ahppened cause now we have a few countries that will utterly destroy themselves. WHILE the rest of us invent , innovate and caringly allow for disabled and poor to have access to works.

Andy (profile) says:

Re: healhcare vs copyrights

Judging by your description, I would have to say that both the US healthcare legislation AND the UK DEB are about “greed, corruption, laziness and doing as much harm to society before they get pissed off and revolt”.

Only the naive could possibly believe the healthcare legislation is about “compassion and civilization and caring for your fellow man” and only a complete idiot would argue the UK DEB is about that!

Anonymous Coward says:

I watched the entirety of this travesty live. It was sickening, but not unexpected, when several hundred MP’s trot in right at the end to vote who didn’t even bother to listen to the debate.
There were in the region of 30 MP’s present during the 2 hour or so debate, and nearly all of those who spoke disagreed with the bill, or said that it at least needed much more proper debate and scrutiny before it should be passed, with the exception being Stephen Timms, who was in favour of the bill, even when he plainly doesn’t understand the technology behind it.
Just because the bill contains the word ‘Digital’ doesn’t mean we should treat laws like software i.e. push out half assed broken crap now, promise to patch later.

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