The digital revolution has given billions of people instant access to free information. But this also means that those that provide the information may not be making as much money as they would like. The music industry for example wanted the Digital Economy Bill to outlaw File-sharing so protecting their copyrights.

The bill however does not go that far. But what it does cater for is the allowing of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to switch off the connections of those they find sharing files.

But this ignores the technical and legal practicalities. To do this they must be monitoring (bugging) the communication, something I think is still illegal without a judge’s consent in the UK. The implication of this is that ISPs would have to eventually become responsible for everything going through their connections, including pornography, delivery of criminal communications and the witterings of Bloggers.

Giving the ISPs the power to arbitrarily switch someone’s connection off is also not something that should be allowed in a free country without due process. The danger is that after a while when the ISPs realise that people are just going to another ISP, they will agree to share data and agree not to accept someone that has been banned by any one of the ISPs. Until one of them refuses to play ball of course.

Also, if the transmissions are encrypted then how do you tell? Then there is the case of the person who pays the wireless bill and who uses the connection? They may be different parties. There have been major technical attempts at preventing file sharing. But none have been successful or look like they will be or this legislation would not have been called for by the industry.

The industry that complains about it though would be quite happy to trawl the Internet for musical ideas or musical talent they can approach on the cheap and some advertisers have been known to plagiarise music made by individuals they have found on the ‘net for their own ends.

Producers and distributors were also more than happy to jump on the chance of cheap digital downloads, as long as they could charge the same as a CD for it.

The file-sharers want other people’s efforts for free. The copyright owners want the exclusive right to earn as much as they possibly can from their material. Your own outlook will depend on which side of that fence you belong. Pirate Party UK’s claims that free sharing is a positive cultural influence and that restricting it is a breach of free speech and human rights is just a smokescreen. But on the other side, should some of these music providers make so much money?

There seems to be more questions than answers over this and I think that in the final analysis, barring some technical breakthrough, the file-sharers will always come out on top.

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