By Basheera Khan
This week saw the launch of Digital Britain, the UK government’s plan “to secure Britain’s place at the forefront of the global digital economy”.
The ever outspoken Andrew Orlowski at The Register is decidedly unimpressed with what he calls an administrator’s answer to the challenges facing the British media industry:
“…in summary, Carter has proposed a new tax, a new quango, and lots of administrative burdens designed to change behaviour. Not a word about new services which capture value from our existing behaviour, or return these to creators and investors in talent. It sees the world primarily as an administrative challenge. For the modern politician, “the vision thing” consists merely of aligning the bureaucracy with a topical issue. Job done.
The Carter Review also represents a short-term victory but a long-term catastrophe for the British music business, which has succeeded in putting enforcement and behaviour-modification at the heart of the “strategy”. But in doing so, it’s failed to convince Government it has the creative business know-how to arrest its own decline.”
Jim Killock at the Open Rights Group expresses concerns that Digital Britain marginalizes the voice of consumers and citizens, saying:
“We are concerned that there is no suggestion that consumers and citizens should be represented on the proposed copyright ‘Rights Agency’. Without our voices, such an agency could easily be dominated by industry’s concerns at the expense of civil rights. Consumer would be very likely to get a bad deal.
We are concerned at the government’s proposals for technical ’solutions’ for rights enforcement – technical ’solutions’ to social issues tend to be expensive and fail.
One by one digital music providers like iTunes and Amazon are moving away from DRM, and trusting their customers. This is a much better example for industry and government to follow.
We also intend to look closely at proposals for recording and reporting alleged rights infringers. While we welcome the proposal to ask the courts before taking action, we are concerned at the potential for further erosion of privacy online.”
The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is inviting comments on the report until 12 March. It remains to be seen whether the public response will in any way mirror the initial reaction from media industry bigwigs.