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Letter to my MP to urge her to debate the Digital Economy Bill in parliament

The UK House of Lords passed a controversial internet piracy bill that will have great consequences for society. Not only because it wants to disconnect file sharers, but also because of other privacy invading clauses. It is possible (likely even) that this bill will be rushed through parliament without a proper debate. I therefore wrote to my MP to urge her to properly discuss this in parliament. I am copying that letter below:

Dear Sarah Teather,

I've been following the recent developments around the Digital Economy Bill and what I read worries me deeply. This law, spearheaded by the Lord Manderson, is controversial in many ways. Now it seems possible that this bill is going to be rushed to be signed into law without a full Parliamentary debate.

There are several issues with this bill that I would like to address. First of all, the proposed US-DMCA like practices that would allow copyright holders to ask an ISP to take down content. ISPs will have no choice, but to comply with those take-down notices because it would be their legal responsibility. ISPs will have to fight out in court if they want to prove that certain content is not infringing, and obviously they will not have the inclination to do so on their customers' behalf. This makes it relatively easy for anybody to demand content taken off-line, whether they are the copyright holder or not, or even without having to prove the content is in violation.

At the same time, the Digital Economy Bill will allow the use of "orphaned works"—works for which the author is not easy to find. I am a semi-professional photographer with many images published on the Internet in various locations, some that are difficult to link me to as an author. I expect this to be even more the case for people's holiday pictures that they post to sites such as flickr and facebook. I don't want my work to be used commercially without consent, but if the Digital Economy Bill would be signed into law, corporations could use anyone's family pictures without their consent. This is of course in full contrast with other proposed clauses that criminalize copyright infringements where the copyright is owned by large (mostly not even UK) corporations.

As you can see, there are measures in this Bill that concern me, and so I think that it deserves proper scrutiny. Please don't let the government rush it through. I, and many of my peers, think it will damage schools and businesses as well as innocent people who rely on the internet because it will allow the Government to disconnect people it suspects of copyright infringement with any due process.

I am writing to you today to ask you to do all you can to ensure the Government doesn't just rush the bill through and deny us our democratic right to scrutiny and debate. I would be happy to discuss this matter with you further and provide some examples.

Yours sincerely, Derick Rethans

I have not seen a reply yet, but will update this post in case I receive one later. Please also write to your MP in case you are concerned with how this bill will affect your privacy and rights.


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My MP is Sarah Teather too and I hate her. Whenever I send her a letter about these sorts of things I get a veritable PR storm back saying things like: "I've always supported __insert-your-campaign-name-here__ blah blah blah".


For what it is worth, I still didn't get a reply. While looking at it seems that Sarah Teather is only ranked 597th... doesn't look good for an MP that seeks re-election.

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