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The digital economy bill - a boost for musicians

19 November 2009

Her Majesty in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech said the following: “My Government will introduce a Bill to ensure communications infrastructure that is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers competitive communications and enhances public service broadcasting”.

The Digital Economy Bill will do various things, amongst which will be a change to the law on online copyright infringement – creating duties on Offcom to require ISPs to take action against identified file sharers, and giving Offcom and/or ISPs the power to disconnect persistent file sharers.

Musicians and music lovers alike should welcome this legislation. The detail of how persistent filesharers will, in reality, be banned from the internet remains unclear, as does the extent to which it will prevent unauthorised exchange of copyright materials long-term. History shows that digital pirates are generally one step ahead of those attempting to stop them.

Importantly, however, it strikes a further blow against those who believe it is acceptable to copy, distribute and use copyright materials – such as music or video games – without seeking the permission of the author, or indeed paying the author. The rise in file sharing has brought the music industry to its knees, affecting not only large record labels but also struggling independent musicians. Legislation will not solve this problem, but it will allow us to begin to tackle it.

Only by supporting our creative industry can we ensure it continues to create.

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