The controversy surrounding the Digital Economy Act showed no signs of abating this week as members of the House of Lords clashed with ISPs and representatives from the creative industries over its more contentious elements.
Lords Lucas and Putnam, as well as TalkTalk's executive director Andrew Heaney and the director of public affairs at the BPI Richard Mollet took part in a heated debate on the Act at the Frontline Club in London.
The Lords insight into the passage of the Act was very illuminating, with Lord Putnam arguing that "far too much hot air" was talked by those who wanted to try and create a perfect Act, something he argued is never possible.
He also said a scrutiny committee should have been set up to take evidence from all the interested parties on the record before the Act was debated, rather than subjecting the Lords to "intense lobbying in bars", which evidently took place.
Putnam also said he thought the Act was "not in a bad place" for copyright laws, and argued that ISPs could not "shrug off their responsibilities on this issue" likening them to that of a chemist, who must control what is given out to customers.
However, Andrew Heaney from TalkTalk, a vocal opponent of the Act, disagreed with this analogy, claiming ISPs were merely "dump pipes" for customers, and did not have the means of control to stop certain content being accessed.
Heaney also argued that the Digital Economy Act had two major flaws, in that it uses IP addresses to identify people who were suspect of file-sharing, and that it presumes guilt first, with innocence having to be proved after an accusation.
Due to these problems he argued the Act "has as to go back to the drawing board before we can move forward", while Simon Miler, the director of group industry policy at BT and an audience member, agreed, claiming the Act had meant the situation had "got worse, not better".
However, the BPI's Richard Mollet countered, arguing that now is not the time "to be retrospective looking at the Act", and said that writing letters to the subscriber who owns the IP addresses, notifying them their account is suspected of file-sharing, would have the desired effect.
"Letter writing works. It means someone may stop downloading, a family may realise someone is doing something wrong and stop it happening, or someone can put blocks in place on their networks to stop downloading taking place," he said.
Mollet added legislation is necessary to enforce copyright holder's position, claiming ISPs had not done enough to help these groups as, despite having contracts with customers warning against copyright infringement, they never enforce these terms.
Lord Lucas rounded on the BPI, though, arguing media rights groups were guilty of "a history of failure and obstinacy" in not accepting the new technological era, and saying there was "no responsibility to the goliaths, they are not living in the real world".
He added that he thought it was important that each generation should look to revise its copyright laws, but said that big corporations should not hold sway in these talks.
Lord Lucas also argued that ISPs needed to be more proactive in how they addressed the issues being discussed, citing what he believed was a workable system in Denmark where ISPs receive a small portion of the share of legal download sales.
"Giving ISPs a commercial reason to enforce and educate people to legal downloading, benefits both them and the copyright holders, but trying to introduce something of a similar nature here is always blocked by rights holders," he argued.
Lord Putnam also said he believed that the era of free content that many internet users had got used to would soon come to and end and predicted that by 2015 most people would be paying £50-100 a year in micro-payment to access various chunks of content online.
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