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A world class Digital Economy for Britain


BIS Department for Business Innovation and Skills - Expert Author

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20 November 2009

The Digital Economy Bill, introduced today, sets out Government plans to ensure the UK is at the leading edge of the global digital economy.

Published jointly by the Department for Business and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Bill aims to support growth in the creative and digital sectors and includes measures aimed at tackling widespread online infringement of creative copyright, such as peer-to-peer file-sharing.

Other key proposals look to strengthen the UK’s communications infrastructure, such as superfast broadband, via the introduction of new Ofcom duties to encourage investment.

The Bill also puts in place measures to protect the creation of a range of engaging public service content, from multiple providers, on multiple platforms. Specifically, it addresses the urgent need for action to secure provision of news in the nations, locally and in the regions.

Lord Mandelson said:

“On current definitions our digital economy accounts for nearly £1 in every £10 that the whole British economy produces each year – so our creative and digital industries are key to Britain’s future economic success. This Bill will give them the framework to develop competitively and make the UK a global creative leader.

“Better protecting our creative communities from the threat of online infringement will ensure existing and emerging talent is rewarded and will bring new choices for online consumers.”

“Creating the right conditions for investment in our communications infrastructure will bring benefits for households and businesses in all parts of the country.”

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw said:

"Our digital economy is worth around 8% of GDP.

“Britain's creative industries have become number one in the world as a proportion of our economy.

“This Bill is a key part of the Government's active industrial strategy and will maintain and build on Britain's leading position. It includes measures to ensure universal broadband, the protection of music, film and other creative content and the future of quality local and regional news. The market will not provide these things, only Government action can.”

Key measures in the Digital Economy Bill

Online infringement of copyright

Take action on unlawful peer-to-peer filesharing by obliging individual ISPs to take action against infringers.

An update to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act so that if, in future, new communications technologies allow creative content to be unlawfully copied in new ways, remedies can be developed and implemented more quickly and flexibly than might otherwise be possible.

Extended Collective Licensing

Modernise the copyright licensing system to make it simpler and quicker for licensing societies to make content available online to consumers and to support innovative commercial services that rely on copyright material.

Orphan works

Unlock large volumes of previously unusable cultural content or ‘orphan works’ where the rights holder cannot be identified or found, for public and commercial use.

Independent and high quality news

Support the plurality of regional and local news, giving Ofcom powers to appoint and fund Independently Funded News Consortia and future proof Channel 3 and Channel 5 licensees, including adjusting requirements of Channel 3 licence holders to produce or broadcast Gaelic programming.

Public Lending Rights

Extend public lending rights to include digital material such as audio and e-books. This will mean producers and artists who have created this content will be rewarded when material is lent out from public libraries.

Digital infrastructure and content

Give Ofcom new duties to promote investment in communications infrastructure where this is needed and to make a formal assessment of the UK’s communications infrastructure every two years. Alongside this a new duty for Ofcom to encourage investment in public service content where this is needed.

Internet domain names

Ensure the efficient allocating and registering of internet domain names in the UK by taking reserve powers.

Digital radio

Update the regulatory framework to prepare for moves to digital switchover for radio by 2015.

Channel 4 Corporation

Update its functions to encompass public service content on all media platforms - online as well as television – to make it fit for the digital age.

Mobile and wireless broadband

Enable development of next generation mobile broadband services by allowing for the charging of periodic payments such as Adminstered Incentive Pricing on auctioned spectrum licences and allowing OFCOM to levy monetary penalties for failure to meet certain licence conditions.

Video games

Protect children by making age ratings compulsory for all boxed games designed for those aged 12 or above.


The Digital Economy Bill is a joint Bill between the Department of Business Innovation and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It was published today, 20 November 2009. For youtube clips, FAQs and other digital media information, visit:

The Bill is the legislative programme that realises many of the recommendations made in the Government’s Digital Britain White Paper, published on 16 June 2009. A copy can be found at:

Department for Business Innovation & Skills press enquiries: 020 7215 6403

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-11-23 12:11:58 in Legal Articles

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