More trade bodies say Digital Economy Bill sucks

More institutions are coming out of the woodwork claiming that they should be let off from the Digital Economy Bill, if it is passed.

Today the British Hospitality Association (BHA) said that its members cannot be held responsible for what customers download on their premises. It added, in a statement, that the bill “will have serious consequences” for the number of establishments offering broadband.

The bill, currently being thrashed out in a House of Lords committee, proposes to cut off people who are suspected of unlawfully downloading copyright files over their Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) connection. One way that the bill, suggested by Lord Mandelson, intends to police people is to check file sizes that are downloaded.

Yesterday schools and other educational facilities protested that they should be exempt, especially the maximum penalty of the bill which is cutting off internet connections. In a letter to Lord Puttman over 40 academic institutions said: “Because public institutions often provide internet access to hundreds or thousands of individual users, the complexity of our position in relation to copyright infringements must be taken into consideration.”

The bill has been criticized from all sides including by ISPs such as Talk Talk for its ‘guilty until proven innocent’ attitude to downloaders. There is also the problem that IP addresses IP addresses are an unreliable means of accurately identifying specific individuals.

Also yesterday an Australian court has ruled that an internet service provider cannot be responsible for illegal downloading after a consortium of movie makers claimed that iiNet was guilty of copyright infringement. The movie group had hired investigators to track the numbers of iiNet customers using BitTorrents to illegally download movies. However, the judge ruled iiNet was not responsible for the online behaviour of its customers.

On Wednesday Siôn Simon, the creative industries minister appointed to guide the bill through parliament for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, announced he is to stand down as an MP.

At the time the shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Guardian: “This resignation is another chapter in the sorry story of Labour’s disastrous approach to Britain’s digital future. It is a complete farce that a minister responsible should resign his post so close to the digital economy bill arriving in the House of Commons.”

According to the BBC the Italian government is proposing new laws which would make video channels such as YouTube directly responsible for copyright infringement if their users upload copyrighted material.

Tech Eye has also revealed that, in the Digital Economy Bill, cut off internet users will have to pay a court fee to be reconnected, regardless of innocence.