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Digital Economy Bill

November 24, 2009

Here is my letter to my MP about the proposed Digital Economy Bill.

Friday 20 November 2009

Dear David Howarth,

I am writing to you as I am very concerned about the Digital Economy Bill. In particular I am opposed to the idea that people should have their internet connection disconnected simply because an industry body accuses them of downloading music or other copyrighted material. It is unacceptable that there is no legal process involved.

Increasingly, denying people access to the internet is like taking away someone’s driving license. The internet is used for shopping, for socialising with friends and family, for interacting with government and for doing one’s job. It might be necessary in some cases to cut someone off from the internet, but it should not be done lightly, and it should certainly not be done without legal process. I would expect a cut off only to be required for very serious offences, not simply for downloading a few files.

I am particularly concerned about reports of an amendment proposed by Peter Mandelson letting him confer ‘powers on “any person as may be specified” to help cut down online infringement of copyright’.

The music, film and related industries should be embracing the internet. Illegal downloading is in fact falling, while sales of singles are rising as new businesses start up and make paying for music on the internet easier than illegal downloading. This should be encouraged by creating a standard licensing regime for companies in the UK who want to offer music over the internet, as there is for radio stations. The industry should not be picking and choosing the business models they like, they should just be getting a fair return from whatever companies use their music. The government should not be trying to defend an old business model so as to maintain the current structure of the industry, it should be allowing new players into the industry and looking out for the best interests of the consumer.

Please pass my concerns on to the minister concerned.

Yours sincerely,

etc

If you haven’t spoken or written to your MP yet, I suggest you do so, pronto. Also, sign up to the petition.

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