Nick McDonald of Browne Jacobson has written to the IPKat with the following:
"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:
There is no mention of whether the Bill will echo the Government's Digital Britain Report of June 2009 in seeking to "modernise" (Therefore presumably extend) the fair use copyright infringement exceptions.
- Reform the law on online copyright infringement - by creating duties on Ofcom to require ISPs to take action against identified file sharers, and giving Ofcom and/or ISPs the power to disconnect persistent file sharers;
- Introduce "changes to copyright licensing" - the exact detail of which is as yet unclear;
- Give Ofcom powers to appoint and fund Independently Funded News Consortia - essentially aimed at encouraging the proliferation of independent news media;
- Give Ofcom new duties to promote investment in infrastructure and public service media content, and to carry out an assessment of the UK’s communications infrastructure every two years;
- Support investment in next generation technologies through spectrum modernisation - pretty technical; all about bandwidths, how many of them are available, and who owns them;
- Update the regulatory framework to make moves to digital switchover for radio possible by 2015;
- Update Channel 4's functions to encompass public service content on all media platforms - online as well as television;
- Protect children by making age ratings compulsory for all boxed video games designed for those aged 12 or above.
Clearly, the main IP change will be in relation to tackling file sharing. The No.10 website describes the new legislation being aimed at:
"tackling widespread copyright infringement via a two-stage process. First by making legal action more effective and educating consumers about copyright on-line. Second through reserve powers, if needed, to introduce technical measures, such as disconnection".There has been a lot of commentary on this issue in the media over the last few years: Is it achievable? Will it work? Is it desirable? Either way, it appears the Government is going to try. It may not solve the problem immediately, but it will certainly strike a major blow against illegal downloading."