The Economist this week report that the number of people going online has passed one billion for the first time, according to comScore, an online metrics company. Almost 180m internet users—over one in six of the world’s online population—live in China, more than any other country. Until a few months ago America had most web users, but with 163m people online, or over half of its total population, it has reached saturation point. More populous countries such as China, Brazil and India have many more potential users and will eventually overtake those western countries with already high penetration rates. ComScore counts only unique users above the age of 15 and excludes access in internet cafes and via mobile devices.
If America’s new president has his way, a total of $37 billion will be spent on the digitisation of health records ($20 billion), a smarter power grid ($11 billion) and high-speed internet connections ($6 billion).
It is not just America that is betting on technology to help revive its economy. Yesterday, the common global theme of “broadband for all” (broadband, the assumption goes, could boost economies in much the same way as railways and highways did in previous eras), was echoed by a British government report called “Digital Britain”. The report details 22 actions. The most relevant to the cultural sector – actions around content production, rights and distribution – are taken from the actions summary within the DCMS’s press release today:
In relation to the Economics of Digital Content:
ACTION 10 – DETAILED ANALYSIS
In the final report we will examine measures needed to address the challenges for digital content in more detail, including opportunities for providing further support to foster UK creative ambition and alternative funding mechanisms to advertising revenues.
In relation to Rights and Distribution:
ACTION 11 – INITIAL ASSESSMENT
By the time the final Digital Britain Report is published the Government will have explored with interested parties the potential for a Rights Agency to bring industry together to agree how to provide incentives for legal use of copyright material; work together to prevent unlawful use by consumers which infringes civil copyright law; and enable technical copyright-support solutions that work for both consumers and content creators. The Government also welcomes other suggestions on how these objectives should be achieved.
ACTION 12 – INITIAL ASSESSMENT
Before the final Digital Britain Report is published we will explore with both distributors and rights-holders their willingness to fund, through a modest and proportionate contribution, such a new approach to civil enforcement of copyright (within the legal frameworks applying to electronic commerce, copyright, data protection and
privacy) to facilitate and co-ordinate an industry response to this challenge. It will be important to ensure that this approach covers the need for innovative legitimate services to meet consumer demand, and education and information activity to educate consumers in fair and appropriate uses of copyrighted material as well as enforcement and prevention work.
ACTION 13 – LEGISLATION / REGULATORY REFORM Our response to the consultation on peer-to-peer file sharing sets out our intention to legislate, requiring ISPs to notify alleged infringers of rights (subject to reasonable levels of proof from
rights-holders) that their conduct is unlawful. We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order. We intend to consult on this approach shortly, setting out our proposals in detail.
The Guardian have put together a handy page of all the Digital Britain coverage.