The Digital Economy Act 2010
The digital economy act 2010 and the debate about moral concerns and the copyright wars continue to be hotly argued. One side says the recent expansion of rights and remedies to copyright holders is grotesque and disproportionate and worst of all, it will stifle innovation. The other side, who are trying to assert their rights, are saying that efficient copyright laws are needed to deal with a shift in the ever evolving paradigm of accessing and distributing copyright material. I prefer the latter view. Efficient regulation and legislation is clearly in the public good.
What is all the fuss about? Well some people forget that the definitions of technologies that enable access to media will evolve and continue to change over time. The question is how does something which is dynamic, ubiquitous and uncertain simultaneously, be regulated by law? After all law is standardised, supposed to be predictable and procedural. This has perpetuated the myth that we are powerless to regulate effectively digital uses of our works online or to control our privacy and reputation online. Just because the view that we cannot control the Internet is the popular view does not necessarily mean that it is or has to be true. In other words if current copyright, trademark, passing off, privacy, reputation, data protection, harassment, illegal pornography or fraud laws are not fit for purpose in respect of the paradigm shift to a digital world then we need to find the political will to change them. If legislation has to be rushed through to do this, then so be it. I would go further and suggest that specialised courts should be set up to ensure that Internet related legislation is implemented quickly, effectively and fairly.
Does the natural drive for continuous innovation mean the creative destruction of old technologies? Yes it does, but it does not change the need for the protection of the expression of our ideas or our social norms and morals. The technologies are a mode of consumption not the consumption per se. If there is a paradigm shift in the mode of consumption the logical reaction is to match law to the special challenges arising from the new mode of consumption. The Digital Economy Act 2010 seeks to do this and should be commended. Legislation does not go far enough. To continue to be complacent about the special challenges presented by the Internet is a mistake.