The fight to protect digital copyright is bubbling up with Internetgiants including Google and Yahoo in one corner and industry lobby groups likethe Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) in the other.
The contest focuses on the amended Clause 17 of the Copyright, Designsand Patents Act 1988 that forms part of the Digital Economy Bill which would give the government the right to amend the lawto 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 thelaw would provide an opportunity for privacy and individual rights to bethreatened and potentially put ISPs in the uncomfortable position of monitoringusers.
But FAST IiS’s chief executive John Lovelock has warned thatwithout the amendment to clause 17 the software publishing industry faces beingleft unprotected in the future.
“The UKsoftware sector is of vital importance to the UK economy, employing over 400,000and estimated to contribute well over £20 billion. The software industry isalso in a unique position as we know better than many that copyright law hasnot been able to keep up with technology,” he said.
“We are calling on all political parties in Parliamentto give their full backing to the Clause 17 measures which will ensure that nowand for years to come entrepreneurs will be able to thrive,” he added.