The True Effects of the Digital Economy Bill

[This was originally a PPUk Press Release, posted on in March 2010.]

Yet more data has come to light supporting the Pirate Party’s opposition of the Digital Economy Bill (DEB). Not only will it fail to reduce piracy, but it will drive pirates to even more sophisticated and harder-to-monitor technologies.

The most recent nail in the coffin of this misguided legislation has been supplied by UK ISP TalkTalk. A survey of their customers revealed that 80% of 18-34 year olds would simply seek out new – and as yet undetectable – ways to download, and felt that they would be more likely to commit online piracy if the Bill were to become law.

Pirate Party UK leader Andrew Robinson said, “The choices being made by parliament will not stop future generations downloading music, they will simply decide if future generation consider the law and the political process to be their enemy or not. One-sided laws written by record companies will simply strengthen people’s resolve to fight for what they believe is right.”

This statistic falls only fractionally, to 71%, when including responses from users of all ages, demonstrating that this opinion is not exclusive to the younger generation.

Newgroups, virtual private networks (VPNs), and services such as TorrentPrivacy – to name a small selection of technologies – are all ways of obtaining both legal and infringing material using highly encrypted data streams that are more-or-less uncrackable.  Coupled with the widespread availability of IEEE 802.11 (WiFi) hotspots, and also the exponential increase in deployment of poorly-secured, household wireless networks, innocent parties are certain to get caught in the crossfire.

Andrew Heaney, Executive Director of Strategy and Regulation at TalkTalk, puts the situation rather aptly:

“It doesn’t matter how many sites are blocked, how many families are snooped on or how many customers are disconnected, music fans who want to can and will get the content they want online for free. Whatever measures are taken it will have little impact on the music industry’s coffers but will leave in its wake innocent customers disconnected from the internet. […] The Bill reverses the core principles of natural justice by requiring customers to prove their innocence.”

The introduction of HADOPI (France’s recently-passed version of DEB) shows what the future may hold. Although not currently in full effect, the early indications are that online copyright infringement has not decreased since the law was passed – in fact, it has increased by around 3%.

This data further demonstrates how little those pushing for this legislation understand the issues and technologies involved. The Pirate Party UK strongly opposes the Digital Economy Bill and encourages all those who enjoy a free Internet to contact their MP and support the Party.


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