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Digital Little Britain

Digital Little Britain

September 8, 2009

New labour have raised a new slogan to be drummed out from the political pulpit: “Innovation Innovation Innovation”. The government is paving the way for a digital future for Britain and, in doing so, wants to reign in the outlaws. Indeed, for some, the internet resembles much to the wild west than a post-sixties renaissance. But the landscape is drastically changing with OFCOM given soft and hard weapons to initiate a campaign against internet piracy: they’ll oblige ISPs to serve notice on filesharers (apparently 1000 letters a week to be distributed), divulge data on filesharers by court order, or if offenders persist, cut off their connection or limit their band width. In all, the government is aiming to reduce piracy by 70%.

Generation Y, the internet generation, however, have a predominately Y pay attitude towards illegal internet downloads, with only 39% thinking that they should pay for content over the internet.  So when about 1 in 3 persons are not willing to pay for content on the internet, how effective can these government measures really be?

According to the government’s report (p.111) “there is evidence that most people who receive a notification stop unlawful file-sharing”. The assumption is that people will stop once they receive a ‘red card’ – presumably people need further guidance on the difference between right or wrong. But this is not entirely true, as the government concedes it may not be just ignorance of the law that encourages piracy but there seems to be a form of protest taking place as when “there are easy, affordable and lawful routes consumers will take them”.

With the music industry radically changed and alternative business models booming, it may difficult to admit that the file-sharing community’s self-interested protests may have contributed to these positive effects. Not that they should take credit for this, but the current trend is lightening up on fright tactics to use more subtle tools to crack the piracy nut. A new campaign to replace the haunting ‘piracy is a crime’ prelude to dvds, where piracy is portrayed as similar to stealing a car,  is to be released shortly with the slogan you make the movies, encouraging the ‘Y-payers’ to make positive choices “to ensure their favourite shows and actors stay on screen”.

With the digital economy bill to be introduced this November we can see the tide changing in Digital Little Britain as we seek to maximise the benefits of the digital revolution and ‘re-educate’ the recalcitrant parts. Lastly, there may be a visible counter current too, as the British Library pries open its music vault, making 28000 recordings free for all.