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Britain Proposes A Digital Rights Agency

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It is, they claim, a “straw man” – a paper intended to provoke debate and comment rather than represent policy. The paper, published yesterday, proproses starting a Digital Rights Agency in Britain, a major step. But Lord Carter, the man behind the Digital Britain report, said that if it was torn apart, then it would mean there was no commonality in the industry, in which case the government would either leave the industry to its fate, or bring in extensive legislation.

It’s certain that the paper will ignite debate, with comments like, "Consumers are no longer prepared to be told when and where they can access the content that they want," and, "They do not see why a TV show that is airing in the US should not be available in the UK. They are not willing to wait to see a film at home until several months after it has passed through the cinemas. They don’t accept the logic that says that if you have bought a CD you cannot then copy that music onto your iPod. And of course with digital content perfect copies can be made with very little time and at virtually no cost."

The minister of state for intellectual rights, David Lammy, said, "The real prize here is a rights agency that sorts out the complexities that keep consumers on the right side of the law, and ensure artists get properly paid. We need to make it easier for consumers to do the right thing."

The paper offers ideas on how the government can support the industry in developing new, legal ways for users to access content, dealing with persistent copyright law breaches, copyright solutions that are viable to both consumers and industry, and whether watchdog Ofcom should have back-up legal powers.