Federation Against Software Theft welcomes the Digital Economy Bill, as Cloud Industry Forum says that it is 'better than nothing'

After being mauled by its critics for being included in a parliament ‘wash-up', and despite the removal of clauses 18 and 43 from the Digital Economy Bill, the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) claimed that what was eventually passed was ‘better than nothing but still short of the mark'.

CIF chairman Andy Burton said that he was concerned that many of the provisions of the bill had not yet been thought through, debated and scrutinised in any great detail and the speed of its approval ‘could harm UK Plc in the future'.

He said: “As an industry we naturally support any activity that promotes the legal protection of intellectual property rights and a framework in which we can build a healthy environment for the growth and success of digital businesses. But our concerns lie in the fact that this Act could introduce more ambiguity and potential unforeseen liabilities that may in fact hinder the British entrepreneurial spirit online.

“The so-called wash-op period accelerated the law-making process from weeks to a day or two and that cannot be right in terms of democracy and it certainly cannot be right when Parliament is supposed to be delivering a legislative framework for the digital future of the country.

“It is our contention that this could have the potential to be a ‘bad' law, one that cannot be free of unintended consequences. Crucially the new act cannot guarantee false accusations of illegal file sharing.”

However the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) hailed the success of it being passed through parliament. John Lovelock, chief executive of FAST, claimed that with the clauses passed, steps may now be taken to combat illegal file sharing.

Lovelock said: “The creative industries are today what manufacturing used to mean to the UK's economy in previous decades. Intellectual property contributes a total of £53 billion to our GDP, which equates to around eight per cent overall, while the creative industries that include software, film, music, games, eBooks and other sectors are responsible for employing 1.9 million people.

“Having such a strong impact on our country's financial position, it's been astounding that it's taken this long for it to reach the statute books. Issues of software piracy, counterfeiting, illegal file sharing, lack of compliance in business together with a lack of appreciation for copyright among the public are all current and serious threats to the economy.

“As a country we must show leadership and empower our current and emerging industry. The bill is a step in the right direction as we now have a course of action to impede further damage, but there is a sting in the tail. Rights holders must work to make the most of it including court action against the worst culprits or there is a risk little will be achieved.”

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