Vince Cable: You can own your own property

Vince Cable has successfully convinced the government that intervention in copyright-hosting websites is not the way forward. The plans, on the back of the heavily criticised Digital Economy Act, are for the dustbin.

Ofcom, which had flagged the rushed Act as more than dodgy from the start, conducted a thorough review which has lead to Cable pulling the plug. 

Newzbin2 was the recent victim of court injunctions to pull websites that help the user find copyrighted material. But the DEA wasn’t even required for the court to agree on shutting down the site.

It’s not quite a win against the wannabe-despotic content industry. Cable told Auntie that Big Content is perfectly positioned to put the pressure on ISPs without the DEA – so the archaic music and movie industries will still be able to drag people through the courts for its own dated agenda. Without the Act, it’ll be “in a way that’s legally sound,” Cable said. Other options are being explored.

One change really does promise some disruption, though, and that’s with Digital Rights Management. DRM is a means for companies to stop you from copying your own content, mostly due to fears of piracy, but it stops users from legitimately enjoying property that they have legally bought. You know, in shops. 

Cable wants to update the copyright system in the UK, where it has been illegal to rip your own CDs to your computer. “Bringing the laws more up-to-date to have a proper balance which allows consumers and businesses to operate more freely” is the way forward, says Cable. “But at the same time protect genuinely creative artists and penalise pirates.”

As we expected yesterday, Cable has also given more breathing room to parody works which use copyrighted music. The Beeb points to EMI removing the parody track Newport State of Mind, because it sounded quite a bit like Alicia Keys.

Though the content industry will continue to persecute their own biggest customers, legal services such as Spotify are gaining serious traction. For £10 a month in the UK you can access millions of tracks, which doesn’t sound too dissimilar to buying one album a month and pirating the rest.

We’ve heard from sources close to the content creation industry that the next step will be monetising movie streaming services even further – a la Lovefilm and Netflix in the US.