UK ISPs Lose Their Challenge To The Digital Economy Act; Entertainment Industry Responds Condescendingly
from the ok,-start-your-censors dept
UK ISPs BT and Talktalk challenged the Digital Economy Act soon after it was passed, complaining about how the law was approved, about the implementation details and how it would put them at a competitive disadvantage. Unfortunately, the final appeal in that lawsuit has been rejected, and the ISPs may now be forced to start cutting off users and playing the role of copyright cops for the entertainment industry. The court’s basically said that there’s nothing against European law in the Digital Economy Act. Even worse, it found nothing wrong with putting a significant chunk of the costs (about 25%) on the ISPs themselves. In what world is it reasonably to force an industry to pay to protect another industry from innovation? The only point where the ISPs won was on not having to pay 25% of regulator Ofcom’s costs in setting up an appeals body.
What’s somewhat ridiculous, however, is to then watch the entertainment industry practically gloat about this result. Geoff Taylor from the BPI responded by claiming that:
“The ISPs’ failed legal challenge has meant yet another year of harm to British musicians and creators from illegal filesharing.”
That’s ridiculous on multiple levels. First of all, prove the harm. We’ll wait. And wait. Because BPI can’t do it. But, second, that assumes that kicking people off the internet will actually solve “the problem.” It won’t. The problem is with the fact that the companies represented by BPI refuse to adapt in a significant way, and thus users move towards more convenient, more efficient and better priced offerings.
PACT — a UK trade group representing “independent creative content producers,” the kind of folks who rely on an open internet and who should be terrified about the impact of something like the DEA, again, was extremely condescending to the legitimate concerns of ISPs:
John McVay, CEO of Pact, said: “Rather than needlessly spending more time and money on further legal challenges, BT and TalkTalk now need to focus on working with rights holders and the Government in implementing the Digital Economy Act with immediate effect.”
Immediate effect to raise costs and decrease access — none of which will do a damn thing to get people to pay more for content. Others were equally condescending and obnoxious. There was Equity general secretary Christine Payne:
“Once again a judge has made it extremely clear that the Digital Economy Act is a fair, focused, proportionate and efficient system for consumers and the creative industry,” she added. “Rather than individuals being hauled into court, the DEA makes it possible to conduct a mass consumer education programme. BT and TalkTalk need to stop fighting and start obeying the law.”
Hint to Christine: no “education programme” involves legislation requiring one industry to police users to stop them from doing what they want because a different industry is too lazy or clueless to adapt.
The Film Distributors’ Association president Lord Puttnam CBE hoped the court decision would put an end to “a long chapter of uncertainty, and the DEA can now help in implementing a mass consumer education programme so that people, especially young people, can come to appreciate the damage piracy inflicts on the whole of the creative community”.
Kicking people offline and making ISPs copyright cops is not an education program, and the “problem” the industry faces is not an education problem. People know that copyright infringement is illegal. It’s not because of ignorance that they’re doing what they do. It’s because the industry refuses to offer what they want in a convenient manner at a reasonable price.
The British Video Association’s director general Lavinia Carey added: “Several other countries are adopting this measure and it would be bad for Britain’s creative industries to be left behind more forward thinking nations who are supporting their creative economies at this difficult time of transition towards increased digital consumption during this period of recession.”
Not that many countries, actually, and there’s widespread opposition where it’s happening, as well as significant concerns about the collateral damage. Over in France, of course, there are efforts under way by opposition parties to dump Hadopi as soon as possible. Pretending that this is some sort of widespread, agreed upon strategy that other countries are adopting widely is simply false.
But, in the end, this reaction shows how the industry continues to have its collective head in the sand on this particular issue. They think that users just need “education.” That’s wrong. It’s the industry that needs education. It needs innovation on how to adapt, on how to meet consumers needs and on how to actually embrace what the technology allows. Until it does that, no “education program” is going to help… and the collateral damage of the DEA’s program is only going to make things worse, and make sure that another generation of young people have no respect at all for the entertainment industry.