Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Digital Economy Bill - more musings

As already mentioned and discussed on this blog, Lord Lucas, a Tory back-bencher and one of the remaining elected hereditary peers, put down an amendment trying to introduce an offence of groundless threats. [Pictured right, the left-field.]

On closer inspection of the marshalled list of amendments which peers are debating this afternoon, this is not the only area in which Lord Lucas is seeking to make his mark. He has also put down a series of amendments introducing new Clauses to the Bill with the following headings [with added commentary from 1709]:

Format shifting [an unfettered right to format shift any copy you own]

Artists' right to re-market [work that is out of print etc]

Fees for retransmission and delayed transmission of copyright material [i.e. levies on retransmission of free-to-air broadcasts and on PVR viewing of those programmes - an idea that has been campaigned for long and hard by Steve Morrison, head of All3 Media and former Granada Media CEO (and almost nobody else)]

Implied licence to copy [no idea what this is about - anyone?]

Transfer of rights in exchange for equity or other rights in a business [a statutory right for authors to receive payments based on equity received by licensees of their rights, I think]

Compulsory licensing of recorded music to be made available via the internet [does what it says on the tin]

Protection of search engines from liability for copyright infringement [the noble Lord also has a nicely co-ordinating or matching amendment extending the protection of the e-commerce regulations to search engines, hyperlinkers and aggregators. This one, though widely opposed, has at least been the subject of bona fide academic debate]

It is unlikely that any of these amendments will be taken up by the government, but it did raise the question in my mind as to what change to copyright law, either following Gowers or otherwise, do 1709ers think it is most important to add to the Digital Economy Bill.

In this game of "phantom amendments" remember that to be considered, an amendment has to be within the "long title" of the Bill, which in this case is "a Bill to make provision about the functions of the Office of Communications; to make provision about the online infringement of copyright, about licensing of copyright and performers’ rights and about penalties for infringement; to make provision about internet domain registries; to make provision about the functions of the Channel Four Television Corporation; to make provision about the regulation of television and radio services; to make provision about the regulation of the use of the electromagnetic spectrum; to amend the Video Recordings Act 1984; to make provision about public lending right in relation to electronic publications; and for connected purposes."

Answers on a postcard please

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The right answer is to stop this piece-meal tinkering with the 1988 Act, which is a patchwork quilt already, and conduct a proper review of the whole Act and then enact a new Act.