the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

8 April 2010

The UK's Digital Economy Bill will make its way to the statute book following talks in Parliament in the early hours today (Thursday) and cooperation between the government and the Conservative opposition.

Some aspects of the proposed law were dropped due to the lack of parliamentary time now the general election campaign is underway, however, BECTU is particularly pleased that important new measures to clamp down on illegal downloads will soon be introduced.  

Commenting on the development, Martin Spence, assistant general secretary said:

"The Bill was always very wide ranging and several major chunks – including proposals for digital news broadcasting which is significant for our members – have been lost. But the anti-piracy provisions have survived so we can congratulate ourselves on that."

BECTU, together with sister trade unions, employers and other industry bodies such as the Industry Trust, is part of the Creative Coalition Campaign.

The organisation has been working to persuade legislators to act to stop the damage which illegal downloads are doing to the creative sectors both here in the UK and in Europe. 

BECTU has paid tribute to the CCC and to fellow campaigners in Equity and the Musicians' Union. Christine Payne, general secretary of Equity, has served as the Coalition's chair.

Guardian report on the debate in Parliament

The unions took the campaign to the TUC Congress in 2009 and succeeded in winning the support of the trade union movement for measures aimed at saving future jobs and investment in production.

Looking ahead to the work still to be done, Martin Spence said:

"Whoever wins the election on 6 May, the next stage will be to agree a Code of Practice on the detailed steps to be taken by rights holders and ISPs to identify, warn, and take action against subscribers who steal content.

"We are not going to have a British version of the French 'High Authority': it’s all going to be much more mundane and low-key. But the Coalition has already done a lot of work on the Code so we’re ready for the next stage."