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The problem of providing broadband in our rural areas causes real concern. We are glad that the Houses of Parliament and the National Assembly in Cardiff are looking seriously in this direction. It is a problem not only in rural areas but in the valleys of Wales, which have long been known to have special problems and much deprivation. If we look at the tables, we see that Merthyr Tydfil, the Rhondda valley and other places have problems of high unemployment, difficult health situations and low incomes. They are vulnerable places that feel increasingly helpless. Will they have the opportunity to engage in the high-tech developments offered to us?
Today, I looked at the figures for radio listeners in Wales who have ever listened to digital audio broadcasting. I shall not go through the whole list, but in Cardiff, it was 27 per cent, while in the valleys, it was only 4 per cent. That is the difference. The most needy areas will not have the opportunity to benefit from these new high-tech developments. There is a pressing need for an extension of broadband, not least because of the commitment already made by the Government that fibre optic broadband should be prioritised in "notspots", where other technologies have also failed.
In London, 93 per cent of the population is in reach of 8 or more megabytes per second; in Wales, it is 38.4 per cent. In Wales, 26.9 per cent of the population is out of reach of 2 megabytes per second; in the London area, it is 1.2 per cent. We have problems. Last year, the European Union Telecommunications Commissioner said that many people in our rural areas still find that they can not get broadband under the current arrangements. In rural areas, not just in Wales, but in Scotland and parts of England, people find that they cannot get broadband under the current arrangements. The promise to have broadband available to every home is a massive challenge, but it is a target for us to aim at. It is important that areas with historically poor broadband access are targeted.
Once the UK Government have decided a way forward, the Welsh Assembly Government should seek assurances that Wales will be given the tools that it needs to deliver that pledge. Since 2003, the Welsh Government have operated their Regional Innovative Broadband Support project. It has largely been successful, but there are still many people who are not able to access the service. The geographical conditions create that difficulty. In this modern day, broadband is essential to reach the whole of the world, not only the whole of the UK. That is not an end in itself, but a means to an end that can improve the lives of so many people in so many different ways.
Lord Maxton: My Lords, I welcome what the last speaker has just said, because I think that he is absolutely right. I wish to concentrate on the fact that the Government are committed to giving every household broadband by 2012. Yes, it will be 2 megabytes in some cases; but for the vast majority of people, it will be considerably higher than that. For instance, Virgin Media is offering me, in an urban situation in Scotland, 50-megabyte access to the internet, which allows me to watch television-or it would if I were prepared to pay the extra £10-and it is experimenting with 100-megabyte service in some parts of the country. BT will be rolling out the same sort of speeds when it puts in its fibre optic cabling. We have to concentrate on that. I was rather surprised by what the noble Lord said about parts of rural Wales not being able to get at least 2 megabytes. I have a house on the Isle of Arran and can get 2 megabytes. You really cannot get much more remote than the Isle of Arran in some ways, but it has created exchanges to ensure that we get it.
I welcome the commitment, which we must fulfil because even now a digital divide is developing between those who can access broadband and the internet and
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I doubt whether I will do any of my Christmas shopping this year in a shop; I will do almost all of it online. I will buy books and records from Amazon and other things from other people. I even buy theatre tickets to give to people if that is the appropriate present. I am an early adopter of modern technologies-I bought my first mobile phone for £2,500 and my first computer for the same sort of money; it was a BBC computer and it had 400 kilobytes, not megabytes-and I have been slightly surprised throughout this debate by the almost negative approach to the internet. If you were a parent, or any other normal person, listening to the end of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Birt, you would never take up the internet. You will lose a fortune to swindlers, your children will be at great risk from paedophiles; and you will wonder why on earth you would take it up.
The internet needs to be taken up because even now we have this divide. Moreover, what will be the next development? Noble Lords have already mentioned 50 megabytes and high-speed cabling for broadband, which will allow us to use all sorts of video services. I have been saying for a long time that we should stop talking about broadcasting because the future is narrowcasting: watching what you want to watch on the internet where you want to watch it. The benefits will be enormous. Someone mentioned football matches. Ultimately, that is exactly how you will watch football matches. Manchester United will not continue to have 10 matches a season on Sky when it can have every one of its matches live on the internet throughout the world and collect a fee for it. The fee might be quite small-it might be only £1 a time-but if millions of people are watching it, that is an awful lot of money every week. That will happen, and that will be the way in which the internet develops. There will be an enormous increase in the number of services.
Unlike many people, I will not be worried if the BBC becomes the sole provider of news in a particular area, because there will be access through the internet to a whole range of other news. If I want to find out how the local football team is getting on-or the local rugby team, in my case-I do not wait until the local paper comes out on the Thursday or the Friday; I look at the internet 10 or 15 minutes after the game has finished and then read the report on the local rugby team's website. If I want to know about a local planning decision, I do not wait until the local paper comes out; I go on to the local authority website and find out almost immediately after the committee has met-if I cannot actually watch the committee discussing it on the internet, which is possible in some cases.
I want to be brief, so I shall finish by mentioning a problem that people raise constantly, which is how they cannot get their performing rights paid for on the
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There are dangers in what the Government are proposing. Most of the Bill is very good and takes the digital economy forward, but I have concerns about the idea of cutting off broadband access. If I am right, broadband will become as important to our households as our gas, electricity and water supplies. We have come a long way in trying to stop the utility companies from actually cutting people off if they do not pay, and we have to adopt the same attitude towards broadband access. We will have to look at other ways of dealing with the problem, and it is something that we will look at in Committee. As I say, a lot in this Bill is excellent, but in some areas, while it deals with today's problems, I am not sure that it deals with those of tomorrow. That is something we will also have to look at in Committee. I am sure that we will give the whole Bill very careful scrutiny, but on the whole I give it a warm welcome.
Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, I must first declare an interest in that I am a non-executive director of the Bridgeman Art Library, a company owned by my wife and family. The company is a photographic archive and a member of the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies. In turn, the association is a member of the Creators' Rights Alliance, which represents a wide spectrum of organisations in the music and photographic fields. There are certain aspects of the Bill which are of concern to that organisation and others, and I will attempt briefly to address them.
The first is the subject of the use of works whose creators cannot be identified-orphan works. It is a logical and legal absurdity to make such provision while there are significant groups of authors who do not have the right to be identified as authors of their work under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The right is given by Section 77 but, for many, is taken away by Section 79. The groups include news reporters and photographers, and all authors and performers who produce work under contracts of employment. Authors and performers should have an unequivocal and universal right to be associated with their work and to defend its integrity.
I suggest that there are two key moral rights which need to be considered. The first of these is that society and democracy have a profound interest in clear attribution, especially for news reporting, with the corollary that identified authors should take responsibility
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I shall say something about extended collective licensing, if I may. Clause 42 would allow the Minister to make regulations by statutory instrument to permit extended collective licensing-the extension of licensing agreements to all authors, not only those who are members of the collecting societies that negotiate them. I shall come back to that later. Such a provision exists in UK law to facilitate cable redistribution of TV programmes, but making the works of authors and performers available on the internet from where they may so easily be copied for gain, whether by individuals or corporate pirates, has a much wider impact and requires much stricter safeguards. I note that a famous web search engine is already distributing creators' works without permission and, on the face of it, is in breach of national and international law, in the hope of changing the law to exploit forms of extended licensing. That is a quite different matter from licensing to genuinely public institutions, such as the British Library.
We believe that legislation should enshrine the principle that all uses of a work permitted under extended collective licensing must be accompanied by full credits for the author and other metadata which not only detail the source of the work but also give information such as agency contact details, thus ensuring that the work is traceable and attributed. There is a particularly relevant point here. As is well known, litigation on infringement of copyright is cumbersome and expensive in relation to likely returns and is rarely used. I pay tribute to the Minister for the way in which he set out the intended policing of copyright infringements. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, will pass that on to him.
The massive fall in licensing fees following the advent of online publishing has meant that the paternity right is ever more essential to photographers and other creators being able to trace and gain recompense for uses of their works. The right to a credit must be safeguarded, together with a suitably high level of compensation by transgressors. It is a further reason why metadata-the textual accompaniment to an image or other work-must remain linked by law. It will simply be a matter of survival for many photographers.
There is a theoretical prohibition under the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 on removing such information that attempts to implement the relevant provisions of the EU directive on copyright in the information society. The Consumer Rights Alliance believes that it is defective; it provides that a creator or other rights holder has the same rights as he has in respect of an infringement of copyright, which is to sue for the value of the infringement. What is that worth?
We believe further that the Bill should make it clear what kinds of organisation should be authorised to implement either licensing of orphan works or extended
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The Bill rightly seeks to strike an equitable balance between creators, stakeholders and users. If this clause is not modified the balance could well be upset. The collecting societies are, in effect, the monitors of this balance. A great responsibility lies with them, and it is for this if for no other reason that I urge the Government to consider regulating them in the body of the Bill rather than by way of secondary legislation, with all the power that that would give to one individual-the Minister.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I have a great interest in the creative industries. I come from a family of newspaper owners. My early career, before politics took over, was in publishing and bookselling. I should declare an interest in that I am now related by marriage to a successful, Pulitzer prize-winning playwright and screenplay writer. I absolutely share the Government's ambition to make the UK one of the world's creative capitals.
Do the provisions of Clauses 4 to 17 actually make the UK a better place in which to innovate? When he opened the debate this afternoon, the Minister spoke of the unique challenge to the creative industries that the digital age has created. Many today have spoken of the particular opportunities that have also been offered. I join the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, who spoke so eloquently of the new business models that need to be made the most of. There are great opportunities out there and they need to be encouraged.
The Government could have chosen to go down one of two paths with this Bill. One is to encourage those models. The other is to take a fairly heavy hand to protect the old model. The Government in this Bill have emphasised that protection model. This is not the best method of encouraging new innovation, and it threatens to make the UK a rather unwelcoming place in the digital age.
My noble friend Lord Razzall said at the beginning of the debate that education is the most important issue in discouraging illegal file-sharing. He is absolutely right and other noble Lords have made that point. For most 18 year-olds it is the norm to share. I am sorry for the lack of emphasis on education here-it is not even mentioned in these clauses.
This debate takes me back to my own dissertation, at the end of my college course some 35 years ago, on the problem for the book industry posed by copyright piracy in the developing world. The invention of the
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That is why the Government are making a mistake in this Bill. While understanding the wish of industry for protection from the tides of change, the Government have, in Clauses 4 to 17, laid the emphasis too much on stemming that tide and not enough in channelling it into the new business models. Can the Minister elucidate the most successful, established and emerging business models for monetising online content? Noble Lords have mentioned Spotify, micro-payments and other forms of payment for content. How will they be made easier and more convenient? What vision do the Government have for this? What studies have they done to see how free, ad-funded models might also succeed? These are some of the questions that need to be answered as we move into Committee.
The other thing I find difficult to understand is that this Bill seeks to make one industry that has seen phenomenal growth, investment and innovation-the internet service providers-pay for the protection of another sector. That does not seem a reasonable principle to pursue. The Minister will say that Clause 15 talks of sharing costs, but we do not know on what basis those costs are to be shared. That is to be in secondary legislation. I am glad to hear my noble friend on the Front Bench say that he will try to amend this and make it clearer in the Bill.
I fully accept that those who create a product should end up with some recompense for their labour if the market wants the product. At the moment, I doubt we have the balance right in the Bill. I share the sentiment expressed so well by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, that we need to look more closely at the effect on the individual citizen. He said that the Government should have in mind the proper interest of the citizen. The Bill has been brought forward by DCMS and DBIS, so it has laid the emphasis on the creative industries. What representations has the Minister received from the Home Office or the security services?
My other problem with these clauses is the effect that their provisions could have on security and law enforcement. These provisions could drive the more persistent file sharers to use encryption and then there would be an enormous difficulty as regards the crime fighting use of interception. Using encryption is not something that needs would-be file sharers to be highly technically sophisticated. They can buy encryption software which they can download, so the problem for the copyright holders would not be solved. However, the problem for the police, SOCPA, CEOP and so on would be immense. The sheer volume of encrypted material could mean that the ease with which terrorists or child porn criminals will be able to smuggle their material around will be massively enhanced. I am deeply concern by what the Home Office has said about these propositions.
We need to think about what sort of country we want the UK to be in the future. Will it be one where the digital world enhances community life and education and increases access for all both within the community and in the wider world? I believe that is the model we want. Earlier, the right reverend Prelate spoke about inclusion but this Bill will make life very difficult for the future of internet cafes and other shared networks because it will place obligations on the owner of the account for the behaviour of users. That is fine for those who can afford broadband and have absolute knowledge of those who use it. However, just at a time when Swindon is planning to become the first wi-fi town in Britain and offer free internet use for its 186,000-strong population, the Government are liable fatally to undermine that community provision. I understand that Ohio in the States has used a similar model to become a wi-fi town but that it has been put under threat because the Motion Picture Association of America managed to shut down its municipal wi-fi network after a single download. Perhaps the Minister can confirm whether that has been looked into.
The noble Lord, Lord Maxton, was particularly farsighted when he spoke of the right to utility connection being something that we should think about as regards the internet. I think it should become a right and that Finland is moving to make broadband access such a legal right.
Against that background, the provisions in the Bill either to cut people off from broadband or to throttle it-a particularly difficult term which I believe means to reduce the band width-are ones that we need to explore as regards the code. It is particularly sad that we have the Bill before us but not the code, which is such a critical part of the provisions. We need to know that the code is appropriate, fair and proportionate. At the moment, we do not know what will be regarded as serious enough to warrant a disconnection as we do not know how the threshold will be defined. There is no doubt that disconnection would affect families, businesses and, potentially, whole communities.
I am also concerned that under this Bill the accused will have to prove their innocence and probably will have to pay if they want representation. As soon as suspicion falls on them, they will automatically be put on a list from which they will have to appeal to be removed. There are a lot of worries that we will need to scrutinise in Committee. I very much look forward then to exploring the detail.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am deeply grateful that the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, has spoken in the way that she has. Until that point, I thought that this was becoming a dangerously unbalanced debate, with the notable exception of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and, to some extent, my noble friend Lord Maxton. There was acceptance of the approach of going down the line of sanctions to transform the position on illegal file-sharing and downloading.
In the interests of balance and, possibly, of time, I have scrapped the part of my speech which was supportive of many of my noble friend the Secretary of State's
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I do so in part in relation to my role with Consumer Focus. But I do also-this is why I am slightly surprised at the balance of the debate-simply as a Member of the House of Lords. Normally, your Lordships' House is deeply diligent about issues of human rights, privacy, due process, the rule of law and the need to provide proof in cases of criminality and the equivalent. It is also very insistent on the principles of better regulation, which this Government and many opposition parties have embraced, relating to proportionality, transparency and enforceability of the regulations that we have passed.
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