Now the UK can claim bragging rights for having the worst digital copyright law in the world, instead of us here in the US. Yay for them.
Seriously, this is terrible news. I crack wise to keep from weeping in frustration for my friends and acquaintances who now have to live with this horrible legislation.
Mike Masnick at Techdirt is the first among my feeds to report the story though I saw it on Twitter just a bit before that. Masnick does a very thorough job of explaining just how much of a mockery of democratic process the passage was. Dissenting voices were squashed and erroneous, largely made up facts were cited. A vague promise to fix the bill’s problems after the coming election was promised. We all know how that story ends. It is very unlikely any reform effort will be launched, let alone an effective one.
I suspect that Mike is also right in his conclusion that a few months time will see this law having little to no effect on the health of the entertainment industry in Britain. In the wake of Hadopi, France’s three strike law, piracy actually increased. Of course, industry lobbyists probably see that as justification for the powers granted by clause 18 of DEB, the ability for the government to amend copyright further outside of the legislative process. As Masnick notes, even though the clause itself was dropped, its contents still made it through to passage.
The worst, if Mike is right, is considering the question of what the entertainment industry will try next If three strikes fails to shore up their struggling business model. Zero tolerance? Precognitive law suits? You knew that this ratcheting up of copyright doesn’t have a stop, right?
I do wonder if this most aggressive expansion of copyright yet will provide some real world substantiation to Jessica Litman’s hypothesis that overreaching copyright may result in the audience considering it illegitimate. That outcome would be a shame because a more functional copyright system often does what is intended, providing incentives for creators to create. Abandoning copyright altogether isn’t a good idea for anyone, not the creators, the intermediaries or the audience.