Friday, 16 April 2010

Why Hugh Bayley helped make #debill become the #deact in his own words

Earlier this week I received a letter from the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for York Central to respond to the concerns I had raised with him about the Digital Economy Bill when it was first mooted. Well, I call him my PPC but despite the letter being dated April 12th Hugh actually referred to himself as an MP and used House of Commons headed paper, I don't really care but I thought once Parliament was dissolved this was frowned upon.

Anyway, here's what he wrote, at least I didn't get the stock letter that's been doing the rounds

The Digital Economy Bill covers a wide range of issues. There is a pressing need for new legislation to stop the UK falling behind other countries in the digital revolution. For example the Bill will require Channel Four to provide public service content, it will provide more flexibility over the licensing of Channel 3 and Channel 5 services and allow Ofcom to appoint providers of regional and local news. It will extend the role of Ofcom to include reporting on communications infrastructure and media content and allow the Secretary of State to intervene in internet domain name registration. It extends the range of video games that are subject to age-related classification and deals with the issue of the digital switchover which affects local radio stations like Minster FM. I am glad that the government agreed last week to amend the controversial provisions on copyright. In doing so it secured cross party agreement to the Bill going through.

I think it is reasonable for the creator of an artistic work to collect royalties. Writers, composers and musicians deserve to be paid for their work. I used to make television films - which cost tens of thousands of pounds to produce. The people who worked for me depended for their wages on our company being paid when our films were shown. Nowadays films and videos are distributed on the internet but the people who create them still need to be paid. I hope you agree that the principle of authors being able to collect royalties from people using copyright material is reasonable.

The point at issue with the Bill was the power to disconnect people from the internet if they repeatedly downloaded copyright material without paying. I agree that you need to protect people who have not broken the rules. I wrote to the Minister, Stephen Timms, about this. Last Wednesday evening in the House of Commons he proposed an amendment to the Bill applying a super affirmative procedure. This means that further legislation will be required, after the general election, before technical measures, such as disconnected, could be introduced. This further legislation will be subject to further consultation, and additional scrutiny and amendments by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and both Houses will have to vote in favour of the legilsation before it can be brought in. Given these safeguards I voted for the Bill.

I hope you welcome this climb down by the government which secured cross-party support.

So, there you have it. In this constituency where my vote carries the weight of 0.063 the incumbent MP is in a very strong position. Maybe the Digital Economy Bill will be an election changing issue in some parts of the country but in York I doubt this will be the case.