Website-blocking law was “copied” from BPI

The controversial website-blocking amendment to the Digital Economy Bill has been exposed as an “almost word-for-word copy” of a BPI proposal.

Website-blocking law was

The controversial amendment was successfully tabled by Lib Dem and Conservative peers last week, and advocates the blocking of websites that host a substantial amount of copyright-infringing material.

A proposal sent to the Government and opposition parties in January by the BPI advocated allowing “the High Court to grant an injunction requiring ISPs to block access to sites where there was a substantial proportion of infringing material” – a clause which later became a central feature of the Lords amendment.

When we look at the Digital Economy Bill and how its copyright clauses have been formed… the culture industries have almost complete control

“They [Parliament] had in the Digital Britain process a number of consultations – one of which was on P2P,” Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, told PC Pro. “Then they changed the game and mentioned disconnection – then added clause 17 and that didn’t work so [the BPI] got the Conservatives and Lib Dems to propose a new amendment.”

Pandering to copyright owners

Killock accused the opposition parties and the Government of pandering to copyright owners, adding that they “think it’s reasonable to go consult the music industry only on copyright law and just bang that in”.

“When we look at the Digital Economy Bill and how its copyright clauses have been formed… the culture industries have almost complete control. The wider implications of the bill… are forgotten. The Government forgets that copyright now affects the entire way the internet functions… [it] is a part of everyday life.”

A spokeswoman for the BPI said their proposal was perfectly reasonable and legitimate. “It’s all part of the lobbying process. It’s normal for groups to submit a draft version of what they want in a law. The opposition parties saw something in what they submitted and decided to make it a starting point [for the amendment]”.

In response to to a letter to the Financial Times signed by Google, BT and several other internet corporations, which stated their joint opposition to the amendment, the BPI said: “The amendment adopted by the House of Lords provides a clear and sensible mechanism to deal with illegal websites… the suggestion that the clause would lead to widespread disruption to the internet or threaten freedom of speech is pure scaremongering.”

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