Your Views: Digital Economy Bill

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Piracy is a complicated issue, though that's not often acknowledged by the sides arguing about online copyright and internet freedoms - which is a problem as the Digital Economy Bill makes its way though parliament.

Should illegal file sharers have broadband connections cut off? Or is that just bowing to big music companies? Is freedom more important that copyright protection?

Regardless of whether the bill is passed - and it may very well be rushed through before the looming election - the issue of copyright protection and piracy online will remain complicated for some time.

We asked readers of our biweekly newsletter for their thoughts - and like any group of people, the answers were pretty varied.

David said online freedom is worth protecting. "It would be a sad day if net freedom was scuppered in order to legistate against piracy. [The bill] needs [to be] more finely nuanced."

Daz said copyright needs to be protected, but not in the way the bill puts forward. "To begin with, the Digital Economy Bill is a bad joke being hurriedly put together by people who do not even understand the problem and issues concerned," he said.

"Yes copyright should be protected, but by who? Is it really a governmental issue? Seems to me it is more to do with pressure from the music and film industries, potential losses of tax revenue and pushing the blame on to the general public for downloading this material whether they are aware that it is supposed to be illegal or not," he added.

"It is all nonsense. The music and movie industry should do their own dirty work and not waste tax payers money by making it a government issue," Daz said. Artists may think differently...

Claire is an artist, and wants her work protected. "I find piracy of any copyright material, whether software, literature or art or music totally wrong and deserving punishment," she wrote.

"I do not feel 'stalked' by the police when I walk the streets so why should I feel the same when using the internet? If we are innocent then we have no need to fear I would have thought," she added.

Michael is also an artist, and while he wants protection, doesn't think the Government is doing much about it. "The copyright laws do indeed need amending, but a great deal of debate and the involvement of all those affected by copyright protection need to be consulted, my MP certainly has not asked me my views - perhaps he should, it's his job after all."

"Any bill that is rushed through Parliament inevitably needs to be revised... the Digital Economy Bill is no exception," he added.

Mark said it's time the internet had to consider laws in the real world. "The gold rush is over. We now need to put real laws in place and make the internet as law abiding as the real world."

What about business costs?

Colin is the director of a small ISP and worried about how the bill could affect his business. "How can we be held responsible for what our customers do with the connections which we bill them for when we have no practical means of monitoring or controlling usage?"

"As a small organisation, it is tough enough meeting current legal requirements for retention of email logs for the service we provide through our mail servers," he said. "We get the feeling that big Government really wants to drive us out of business along with all the other small providers of internet services. It's tough enough for us to survive anyway without such onerous requirements."

"If ISPs are to be held responsible for what passes over their networks why doesn't the same rule apply to the Post Office or all the parcel companies out there which probably carry even more illegal material?"