Did you know that the Digital Economy Act 2010 was enacted last month? If so, do you know how it affects you? The title makes it sound like a very dry topic, but in fact anyone who lives in the UK should be interested because it affects any UK creator, distributor or consumer of content on the web. On Wednesday 1st June, John Stobart of Harvey Ingram LLP gave an overview of the Act in an excellent presentation, “Legal Aspects of Online Business and the Digital Economy Act 2010”. The talk was hosted by Amplified Leicester at the Phoenix Square Digital Media Centre, Leicester.
Following the noble aims of the Digital Britain report, which mapped our existing use of the Internet as well as ways of enabling more Britons to access online content, it has of course become necessary to legislate how we do this. Most people are aware of the struggle of the film, music and publishing industries to maintain profitability when so much content is available for free or at very low cost on the web. It seems that fewer people are also aware that much of what is available is offered without the permission or sanction of the copyright owners. The ease and speed with which one can download content leads people to think that it must always be okay to do so.
But the scary thing is that even those who scrupulously avoid piracy may fall foul of the new Act. It could affect you negatively, even if you personally have not done anything illegal. This is because of draconian provisions requiring ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to write threatening letters to the owners of connections being used for illegal downloading, to provide to copyright holders the contact details of those people, and ultimately to limit bandwidth or cut internet connection completely if the copyright infringement is proven to have occurred.