|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Re: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] Copyright Wars in Europe Part II
| BBC NEWS
Web giants oppose copyright plans
By Jonathan Fildes
Technology reporter, BBC News
Some of the biggest names on the web have written to Peter Mandelson to
express "grave concerns" about elements of the Digital Economy Bill.
Facebook, Google, Yahoo and eBay object to a clause that they say could
give government "unprecedented and sweeping powers" to amend copyright
"We urge you to remove Clause 17 from the bill," the letter read.
However, the government has said it believes the clause will
"future-proof online copyright laws".
"The law must keep pace with technology, so that the Government can act
if new ways of seriously infringing copyright develop in the future," a
spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
The consortium believe that if Clause 17, as it is known, is approved it
will give "any future Secretary of State" the ability to amend copyright
laws as they see fit.
DIGITAL ECONOMY BILL
# Legal framework for tackling copyright infringement via education and
# technical measures
# Ofcom given powers to appoint and fund independently funded news
# New duties for Ofcom to assess the UK's communications infrastructure
# every two years
# Modernising spectrum to increase investment in mobile broadband
# Framework for the move to digital radio switchover by 2015
# Updating Channel 4 functions to encompass public service content, on
# TV and online
# Age ratings compulsory for all boxed video games aimed at those over
# 12 years
"This power could be used, for example, to introduce additional
technical measures or increase monitoring of user data even where no
illegal practice has taken place," the letter read.
This would "discourage innovation" and "impose unnecessary costs"
representatives of the firms wrote.
Others have suggested that the clause could be used to tweak laws so
that search engines could not publish summaries of news stories in their
Bis said that clause 17 was a necessary extension of its plans to reduce
copyright theft and that fears that government would mould copyright
laws to their needs were unfounded.
"Business will not wake up one morning to a world in which government
has taken extensive digital powers," the spokesperson said.
"There are substantial constraints on how the power can be used, with
requirements for a consultation and votes in both houses of Parliament
before anything can happen."
However, the consortium of companies say the clause is so broad ranging
that it could risk "legitimate consumer use of current technology as
well as future developments".
"We all acknowledge that new business models need to emerge to support
creative content," the letter from European and UK representatives of
the firms reads.
"They are inherently risky and entrepreneurs rely heavily on there being
a consistent and stable approach to copyright enforcement.
"This clause would inject an unprecedented level of uncertainty in this
Other groups including US digital rights group The Electronic Frontier
Foundation have objected to it.
Clause 17 is part of the government's Digital Economy Bill, outlined in
the Queen's speech in November 2009.
The bill includes a shake-up of the radio spectrum, a classification
system for video games and plans to tackle illegal file-sharing.
The so-called "three strikes" element of the bill would give regulator
Ofcom new powers to disconnect persistent net pirates.
The plans have proved controversial with lobby organisation The Open
Rights Group urging people to contact their MP to oppose the plans.
The bill will have its second reading in the House of Lords on 2
December. It will have to go through various other readings and drafts
before it becomes law.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/12/02 15:11:02 GMT
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