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PA applauds the passing of the Digital Economy Bill
09.04.10 | Catherine Neilan
The Publishers Association has applauded the cross-party backing of the Digital Economy Bill, which was passed late on Wednesday night, with ministers voting overwhelmingly in favour of it - 189 votes to 47.
However the trade body has lamented the loss of the clause dealing with orphan works, describing it as "a missed opportunity".
The Digital Economy Bill was approved with a strong majority in favour, and although a number of amendments were made, the orphan works clause was dropped for timing, after concerns were raised about the impact it could have on the British photography industry.
Among the proposals approved is an amended version of the internet suspension clause, which enables the secretary of state for business to order the blocking of "a location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright".
Although there were concerns raised that this would be too wide-ranging, and could be used against sites such as Wikileaks, it was agreed upon by the majority of ministers.
Despite some dissent from a number of Liberal Democract MPs, and Labour ministers such as Tom Watson voted against the bill, PA chief executive Simon Juden said the cross-party support "proves just how important these measures are".
He added: "High-quality content needs to be monetised and protected if its production is to be sustainable. As publishers are increasingly investing in the creation and delivery of digital content, so the measures passed today will help to secure that investment. We look forward to working with government, Ofcom and ISPs on implementing the legislation."
Juden continued: "For publishers, the proposed reforms to orphan works were also of considerable interest. We are disappointed that parliament has not been able to agree amendments to Clause 43 which accommodate the concerns of photographers, and has instead decided to remove the clause from the bill altogether. For the clause to fall at the final hurdle after so much amendment and debate suggests this really is a missed opportunity. Legislation to unlock orphan works would have had a significant and tangible effect on the accessibility of our cultural heritage.
“This debate has not been in vain. Rightsholders, collecting societies and cultural institutions have demonstrated that consensus is possible, and that licensing schemes remain the most effective way to solve these challenges. The PA will continue to work closely with the next Government and other interest groups to ensure that orphan works legislation is put on the statute book as quickly as possible.”