Queen's speech introduces file sharing plans


One must not illegally file share, it would seem.

In the Queen's speech today, the government introduced its Digital Economy Bill, which will be fully detailed on Friday and includes plans to cut file sharers' broadband connections.

"My government will introduce a bill to ensure communications infrastructure that is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers competitive communications and enhances public service broadcasting," the Queen said in her speech, which is written by the sitting government to introduce bills for the coming year.

That bill will include new laws to take on illegal file sharing, including a controversial plan to disconnect broadband for the worst offenders. It won't include much on the Digital Britain plans, as tax issues need to be sorted out first.

Controversial plans

The single line in the Queen's Speech drew anger from activists against the file sharing plans and praise from industry bodies.

In a blog post, Open Rights Group director Jim Killock said the plans were illegal under EU law, wouldn't even prevent file sharing, and would lead to a "gradual war by the state and rights holders to restrict services on the net."

"The internet and our rights need defending," he added.

Copyright cheer

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) was cheered by the bill, however.

"This is the culmination of years of work by many in the creative industries. FAST has lobbied long and hard for a sensible change to the law that maintains a level playing field for the legitimate user," said John Lovelock, FAST chief executive, in a statement.

"People see software piracy as a victimless crime, but it robs organisations of their legitimate revenue to invest in new products, employees of their livelihood, and the government of taxable income from sales which all UK citizens benefit from eventually," he added.