Google, Virgin, eBay, BT and Stephen Fry, among others, have joined together to fight new anti-piracy legislation in the UK that they say could compromise freedom of speech and even threaten the UK's reputation.
They've released a joint statement, saying that the amendment would have "unintended consequences that far outweigh any benefits it could bring."
The amendment to the Digital Economy Bill would empower courts to force Internet service providers (ISPs) to block Websites where films or music were being shared. While this may be well-intentioned, it could put courts in charge of determining which Websites people in the UK could visit and read.
Or, as Stephen Fry and the others put it:
Endorsing a policy that would encourage the blocking of websites by UK broadband providers or other internet companies is a very serious step for the UK to take. There are myriad legal, technical and practical issues to reconcile before this can be considered a proportionate and necessary public policy option. In some cases, these may never be reconciled. These issues have not even been considered in this case.
Blocking access as envisaged by this clause would both widely disrupt the internet in the UK and elsewhere and threaten freedom of speech and the open internet, without reducing copyright infringement as intended.
There are plenty of sites that seem to exist solely to share pirated music.
Is this a side effect of the Internet that musicians and the music industry just have to learn to live with, or is some sort of legislation possible that can protect the rights of musicians while preserving an open Internet?
Image: Stephen Fry
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