Digital Economy Bill supports creative and digital industries

The UK digital economy accounts for nearly 10% of the revenue produced by the whole British economy each year, according to business secretary

The UK digital economy accounts for nearly 10% of the revenue produced by the whole British economy each year, according to business secretary Peter Mandelson.

"Our creative and digital industries are key to Britain's future economic success," he said, as the government published the Digital Economy Bill, outlined in the Queen's speech.

The Bill will give UK digital industries the framework to develop competitively and make the UK a global creative leader, said Mandelson.

The Bill aims to support growth in the creative and digital sectors and includes measures to tackle file-sharing and other online infringement of copyright.

"Better protecting our creative communities from the threat of online infringement will ensure existing and emerging talent is rewarded and will bring new choices for online consumers," said Mandelson.

Other key measures seek to strengthen the UK's communications infrastructure and protect the creation of public service content.

"Creating the right conditions for investment in our communications infrastructure will bring benefits for households and businesses in all parts of the country," said Mandelson.

Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw said the Bill is a key part of the government's active industrial strategy and will maintain and build on Britain's leading position.

Only government action can provide measures to ensure universal broadband, protect music, film and other creative content and safeguard the future of local and regional news, he said.

The Bill includes measure to:

  • Take action against illegal file-sharing, forcing ISPs to take action against infringers, including a controversial measure which could see repeat offenders cut off from the internet;
  • Allow the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act to be amended if new communications technologies enable content to be copied in new ways in the future;
  • Task telecoms regulator Ofcom to encourage investment to help the spread of next-generation broadband, including a telephone tax;
  • Introduce digital "safety measures" to stop firms registering domain names for illicit use;
  • Unlock large volumes of previously unusable cultural content or 'orphan works' where the rights holder cannot be identified or found, for public and commercial use;
  • Support independent news by giving Ofcom powers to appoint and fund independently funded news consortia and future-proof Channel 3 and Channel 5 licensees;
  • Extend public lending rights to include digital material such as audio and e-books to ensure content creators are rewarded when material is lent out from public libraries;
  • Ensure the efficient allocating and registering of internet domain names in the UK by taking reserve powers;
  • Update the regulatory framework to prepare for moves to digital switchover for radio by 2015;
  • Update Channel 4 Corporation's functions to encompass public service content on all media platforms - online as well as television - to make it fit for the digital age;
  • Enable development of next-generation mobile broadband services by allowing for the charging of periodic payments;
  • Protect children by making age ratings compulsory for all boxed games designed for those aged 12 or above.

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