My letter to my MP about the Digital Economy Bill

12Mar10
Dear Mr Soames,
As the Digital Economy Bill leaves the Lords and heads to the Commons I’m writing to you in the hope that you can help stop (or fix) this damaging piece of legislation.
Much ink has already been spilled on the issues around ‘piracy’ of media content such as music, videos, games and ebooks. Whilst I hope that the industry can adapt so that it better serves the digital generation this is not my concern.
The problem with the bill as it stands (and particularly amendment 120) is the potential for unintended consequences. An area of great interest to me as a Corporate Finance professional is the development of the IT industry. One of the places that we’re seeing great growth, and a real opportunity for British firms to compete on a global scale, is Software as a Service (SaaS). These companies depend on a working Internet, an Internet where somebody can’t just shut parts down with a court order.
Let me give you an example. Most of the services that my firm uses on a day to day basis make use of a web service called S3 offered by Amazon. Clients that are building SaaS solutions also rely on S3. S3 presently hosts over 100,000,000,000,000 pieces of content, some of which are sure to infringe upon copyright. With an amendment 120 court order a rights holder could require UK Internet Service Providers to block S3, and in so doing render useless the applications that depend upon it.
This is not far fetched hysteria. We have seen many damaging effects from the unintended consequences of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the United States – a piece of legislation that the Digital Economy Bill is loosely modelled on. Sadly in their haste to rush the Digital Economy Bill onto the statute books before a general election Labour have had far less time to thoughtfully consider what some of the unintended consequences might be.
As the bill passes through the house I hope that you will consider it’s impact upon the full range of British industry, and not just the media distribution firms and their desire to cling onto analogue generation business models.
Please join the fight to stop this dangerous and poorly thought through piece of legislation before it wrecks the very parts of the British economy that it’s name suggests it’s there to help.
Yours sincerely,
Chris Swan
BEng MBA MIET CEng
Director
Capital SCF


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