UK Gov't's Response To Petition Against Disconnections: We've Redefined Disconnection

from the it's-still-a-disconnection dept

Just as David Cameron has announced plans to review UK copyright laws (yet again) and the UK High Court announced the (somewhat surprising) news that it will do a judicial review of the Digital Economy Act, the UK government also responded to a petition that was filed by opponents of the Digital Economy Act. The petition asked for the repeal of the Digital Economy Act, claiming that it was not fair to have users disconnected from their internet connections. The government's response is a bit frustrating in its use of unsupported claims and what appears to be a willful misunderstanding of the complaint:
It is clear that online copyright infringement inflicts considerable damage on the UK's creative economy including music, TV and film, games, sports and software. Industry estimates place this harm at £400m pa.

The Digital Economy Act includes a number of measures to tackle the problem and we expect these to be successful in significantly reducing online copyright infringement. However this is an area of rapid technological change and developing consumer behaviour. The Act therefore includes a reserve power to introduce further "technical" measures if the initial measures do not succeed. These technical measures would limit or restrict an infringers' access to the internet. They do not include disconnection.
First off, that first sentence is silly. The government should never cite an industry's own stats when that industry is asking for protectionism -- especially when tons of independent studies have shown that such industry estimates are completely inaccurate. Second, pretending that "limiting or restricting infringers' access to the internet" does "not include disconnection" is playing a rather obnoxious game of semantics. If you're blocked from accessing the internet, you've lost your connection, and thus have been disconnected. This isn't the first time it's done so. During the run up to the vote on the bill, we noted that the politicians supporting it had decided to make sure not to call account suspensions disconnections. Effectively, they're trying to redefine "disconnection" to only mean a permanent disconnection. A "temporary suspension," is not a disconnection in their book of misleading propaganda.

Of course, to anyone who loses their internet connection, no matter what the length of time, it certainly is a disconnection. Calling it something different doesn't change that. It's pretty sad when the UK government officials can't even be intellectually honest on such a straightforward issue.

Filed Under: digital economy act, disconnection, petition, uk

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  1. identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, 13 Nov 2010 @ 9:45am

    Copyright again

    Excellent article.
    It would be good if someone took it on themselves to forward such thinking to the appropriate people. It won't help until we have campaign finance reform, but it is a step in the right direction.

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