Digital Britain: Few Surprises As It Looks To Prop Up Content Industries

from the government-doing-what-government-does dept

The final version of the UK government's Digital Britain report, its blueprint for updating the country's tech-related laws and infrastructure, has been released today, and it doesn't look like it holds too many surprises. Like the interim report that was released earlier this year, it's full of a lot of vague language, and as the UK's opposition party points out, seems most interested in propping up failing old-media business models. Two aspects of the report are grabbing the most attention. First, the government will start a 50p (about 80 cents) monthly tax on landline phones in order to build out broadband networks in rural and other unserved areas. Second, and more controversially, the report says the UK's communications regulator must cut file-sharing by 70%, and calls for ISPs to help accomplish this by keeping tabs on their users, sending them notification letters when they download infringing material, and giving up their details to content companies (with a court order) so they can be sued. It stops short of creating a rights agency run by the copyright cartel, as had been rumored, and while it doesn't endorse the use of a three-strikes policy, it does say that regulators will have the power to force ISPs to use other technical means (such as throttling connections, traffic shaping, and even blocking certain sites, services and protocols) to try and stop persistent infringers.

The report pays a lot of lip service to the fact that content businesses need to update their business models to the changing digital environment, but it really does very little to help facilitate this, instead preferring to make stopping piracy the central focus. The government seems to have fully bought into the entertainment industry's propaganda -- that it can't do anything until piracy stops, that it can't move forward as long as there's file-sharing. The reality isn't that the industry can't move forward, but rather that it won't. And, after all, if the government is willing to get involved and offer the industry special protection to prop up its ailing business models, why should it?
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Filed Under: copyright, digital britain, file sharing, isps, levies, recording industry, uk, universal access


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2009 @ 1:58am

    Re: Re:

    None of these solutions are in any way patentable (and they're pretty much common sense anyways).

    First of all, if someone speaks or sings or raps in the song, that singer/rapper himself can mention the disclaimer. That would help show that the singer/rapper did make a disclaimer. Ok, so you maybe thinking, what if someone took a disclaimer from one song and moved it to another from the same artist/singer/rapper.

    Have the singer play an instrumental that's in the song during the time he waives the music. This still isn't foolproof, but it helps. The instrumental should be unique to a time that has lyrics, but when played with the disclaimer there should be no lyrics.

    When the singer gives away songs he also gives them away with a high quality video. In the video he explicitly gives everyone permission to share the video to others all they want. He also can put it on youtube and encourage others to download and share it.

    In the video he gives all the names of the songs that he is giving away for free. He also plays a couple of seconds from each song so there is no confusion over what songs are being referred to. If he wants he himself can sing/rap or play music (or both) to show that he is in fact the singer/rapper (since people can correlate the voice). Any others who play a part in the song (ie: play instruments) can perform in the video as well. This shouldn't be a problem since more artists want publicity and don't mind people knowing who they are.

    On top of that she can write down, on a chalkboard (or piece of paper), the SHA-256 hashsum of the songs next to the names of the songs. This way anyone can verify, in court, that this is exactly the song that's been given permission in the video to freely distribute. Of course, on one piece of paper she may simply write multiple song names and hashums. Both her and the piece of paper will appear on the video and her writing on the paper may even appear. So the paper may look like this.

    Title - hashum

    Song1 - hashsum1
    Song2 - hashsum2
    song3 - hashsum3

    (I am not going to think of names or make up actual hashsums)

    If she wants she can even create a public/private key pair, introduce her public key on the video, and give away her songs with a text file that digitally signs the SHA - 256 hashsums along with the free to distribute license for each song.


    License (a bunch of text) - hashsum - signature
    license - hashsum - signature
    license - hashsum - signature

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