The fight to protect digital copyright is bubbling up with Internet giants including Google and Yahoo in one corner and industry lobby groups like the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) in the other.
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The contest focuses on the amended Clause 17 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 that forms part of the Digital Economy Bill which would give the government the right to amend the law to protect intellectual property rights.
The clause states: "The Secretary of State may order amend Part 1 or this Part for the purpose of preventing or reducing any infringement of copyright by means of the Internet, if satisfied that – (a) the infringement is having a serious adverse effect on businesses or consumers, and (b) making the amendment is a proportionate way to address that effect."
The Internet giants have argued that any amendment to the law would provide an opportunity for privacy and individual rights to be threatened and potentially put ISPs in the uncomfortable position of monitoring users.
But FAST IiS’s chief executive John Lovelock has warned that without the amendment to clause 17 the software publishing industry faces being left unprotected in the future.
“The UK software sector is of vital importance to the UK economy, employing over 400,000 and estimated to contribute well over £20 billion. The software industry is also in a unique position as we know better than many that copyright law ha snot been able to keep up with technology,” he said.
“We are calling on all political parties in Parliament to give their full backing to the Clause 17 measures which will ensure that now and for years to come entrepreneurs will be able to thrive,” he added.