Jump to

DT:TV Case Studies

With more than a billion people online worldwide: it’s time for Digital Britain

{Article originally posted to AmbITion Extranet by Hannah Rudman}

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:

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:

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.


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.

Comments so far:

The UK’s two main music organisations have bemoaned Lord Carter’s coy, cumbersome, interim Digital Britain for encouraging them to “sue consumers”. The report doesn’t actually make that recommendation in so many words (see our summary and P2P breakdown), but a vacuum left on enforcing customer warnings is causing concern. And the criticism doesn’t stop there…

—Feargal Sharkey, CEO, UK Music: “We do not believe that the form of intervention proposed by today’s Report – suing consumers – is the best way forward. Obviously, there is a need for greater dialogue over coming months.”

—Geoff Taylor, CEO, BPI: (“It’s) a step forward … but what we need is a bold stride. Requiring ISPs by law to inform their customers about illegal activity is … welcome. However, it is hard to see how letter-sending alone will achieve the aim of significantly reducing illegal filesharing which the government has set itself.

“Consumer research shows that filesharers are only likely to change their behaviour if they know that letters are the first step in a process and further action will be taken by service providers. The Interim Report proposes targeted legal action against the most significant infringers – but few people believe that the answer lies in suing consumers. We believe that proportionate measures taken by ISPs would be more effective.”

—Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) CEO Sly Bailey (via HTFP): “The thud made by the 80-page Interim Report on Digital Britain as it fell on our desks today was matched only by our hearts sinking as we took stock of its content. We are bitterly dispappointed that the report makes only passing reference to newspapers – the word is used just four times – and the crushing lack of understanding of the urgency required for changes to merger regulations in the local and regional media sector.