Digital Britain Interim Report

Today BERR and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published Lord Carter's Digital Britain Interim Report (the final report is in the late spring).

Not surprisingly, one of the issues on the agenda was illegal downloading and use of peer-to-peer services.

The IPKat thought that the background commentary was pretty well balanced. Copyright on the internet is a problem, the commentary acknowledged, but the 'blame' (if that's the right word) wasn't just placed on those pesky downloaders. Instead, it was acknowledged that things happen quicker in the digital world, and that content providers have to meet the expectations of their consumers that content should be available quickly and easily through the development of new business models. To take one quote:

Copyright is vital for our content and communications industries. It is the framework through which people can protect their creations and seek reward. Our aim, in the rapidly changing digital world is a framework that is effective and enforceable, both nationally and across borders. But it must be one which also allows for innovation in platforms, devices and applications that make use of content and that respond to consumers’ desire to access content in the time and manner they want, allowing them to use it how they want, and at a price they are willing to pay.

However, the IPKat wasn't so happy about all of the report's 3 planned actions in this area:

ACTION 11 By the time the final Digital Britain report is published the Government will have explored with interested parties the potential for a Rights Agency to bring industry together to agree how to provide incentives for legal use of copyright material; work together to prevent unlawful use by consumers which infringes civil copyright law; and enable technical copyright-support solutions that work for both consumers and content creators. The Government also welcomes other suggestions on how these objectives should be achieved.

[IPKat comment: providing incentives for legal use seems to be code for innovative new business models. What are these innovative new business models the Kat would like to know.?The only things which are mentioned are iTunes and DRM (but then, the Kat supposes that working out the new models is the job of this agency).]

ACTION 12 Before the full Digital Britain Report is published we will explore with both distributors and rights-holders their willingness to fund, through a modest and proportionate contribution, such a new approach to civil enforcement of copyright within the legal frameworks applying to electronic commerce, copyright, data protection and privacy to facilitate and co-ordinate an industry response to this challenge. It will be important to ensure that this approach covers the need for innovative legitimate services to meet consumer demand, and education and information activity to educate consumers in fair and appropriate uses of copyrighted material as well as enforcement and prevention work.

[IPKat comment: this is very bad news. Developing innovative new business models may not be the job of Government, but civil enforcement most definitely IS.]

ACTION 13 Our response to the consultation on peer-to-peer file sharing [available from BERR] sets out our intention to legislate, requiring ISPs to notify alleged infringers of rights (subject to reasonable levels of proof from rights- holders) that their conduct is unlawful. We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order. We intend to consult on this approach shortly, setting out our proposals in detail.

[IPKat comment: this sounds like it will place a significant burden on ISPs, for relatively little reward in terms of respect for copyright the IPKat suspects].
Digital Britain Interim Report Digital Britain Interim Report Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, January 29, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. Two point of particular concern arise in my mind:

    1. action 12 calls for "funding" of, amongst other things "education and information activity". Given the "informational" adverts put out by a certain vested interest group last year, there is a danger of simply providing government backing for industry propaganda, which only alienates and annoys consumers. Genuine education would make consumers aware of where the boundaries of copyright lie, not simply reiterate that "copyright piracy is wrong"

    2. Action 13 assumes that ISP are technically capable of distinguishing infringers from innocent parties to a "reasonable level of proof". Given the results of last year's campaign against suspected infringers by Lyon Davidson on behalf of various content owners, it seems doubtful that this is now the case.

  2. this is very bad news. Developing innovative new business models may not be the job of Government, but civil enforcement most definitely IS.

    If you don't like what the report says, what wopuld you do instead?

    Anonymous: Given the results of last year's campaign against suspected infringers by Lyon Davidson

    You don't mean Davenport Lyons by any chance?


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