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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Filed Under: digital economy bill, united kingdom


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  1. icon
    bishboria (profile), 7 Apr 2010 @ 3:50pm

    I'm absolutely livid. There were some MPs doing a good job though: Tom Watson, Bill Cash, John Hemming (possibly others, but I forget).

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