I was hugely tempted to write a very detailed blog entry today in protest about the Digital Economy Bill in Britain, but to be frank, words fail even me on this occasion. The legislation is utterly shot through with holes, and appears to have been voted through by a bunch of career politicians who have little (if any) understanding about the technology involved, nor the industry involved. In fact, plenty actually stood up in Parliament and practically admitted this was the case. This particular farcical exchange seems to effectively sum the proceedings up:
As one observer has already commented, when politicians in the Houses of Parliament start asking each other to prove that the technology doesn't exist, we've found ourselves in the middle of a very messy, Kafkaesque hole.
The Digital Economy Bill won't work in the long run, of course. There are too many people who will manage to worm their way around it. As soon as it goes through the usual rubber-stamping procedures, however, it will mean the potential end in Britain - albeit possibly only temporarily - of a lot of what makes the Internet great. Mp3 blogs like this one could be among the first victims. The fate of thousands of YouTube clips uploaded by people with dusty VHS collections (which plenty of uninformed members of the public seem to think are somehow legitimate, and not in any way illicit) isn't particularly clear to me, but if the culling of clips doesn't get more draconian, I'd be amazed.
The majority of mainstream politicians have always failed to understand the arts, the music industry, youth culture and technology, and this is just one in a long historical line of errors on any of those subjects. However, this is likely to impact on many more people than even the closure of the pirate stations did in the late sixties.
Louis Barfe - author of the exhaustive "Where Have All The Good Times Gone?" book about the rise and fall of the music industry - has published a blog post here which kindly lists the names of MPs who voted the bill through. If your local MP is listed, perhaps consider dropping them a line to make them aware of your views on this, or remember their names in the forthcoming election.
Meanwhile, "Left and to the Back" will continue for as long as it is able to.