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September 20, 2011 | Jim Killock

Lib Dems say they want to scrap the Digital Economy Act

It was very heartening to see the Lib Dems reject the Digital Economy Act as a broken and anti-liberal measure at their Conference yesterday. The main speakers included Julian Huppert, Neil McGovern and Bridget Fox, all making powerful points in favour of a more balanced approach to copyright enforcement.

The next steps in the DEA are problematic, but also may be difficult to stop. The very final hearing for BT and Talk’s challenge, backed by ORG, Consumer Focus and Article 19, is scheduled for 7 October. After that, Parliament still needs to agree to the stage one process, as do the EU. And finally, rights holders have to actually deem it worth the effort: and the costs may well be more than the supposed benefit.

But moving beyond letter writing, which may be costly, ineffective and misleading, towards interfering with families’ Internet connections (“technical measures”) is now much more difficult. Such a policy would surely need the backing of both coalition parties: and the Lib Dems have given a near unanimous vote against such an idea.

The Lib Dems were, of course, very reasonable and indicated their belief in intellectual property rights. But they have taken a principled stance in favour of due process and against unworkable policies and collective punishments. ORG congratulates them and those involved.

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