A lot of copyrighted material is available over the Internet today. Copyrighted material is distributed under a copyright license and no one has the right to use it without the written permission of the author. One of the downsides of the Internet, according to the copyright industry, is that it allows for quick access to and sharing of copyrighted materials, guaranteeing a tide of copyright infringements. The law makers in the UK have come with a solution to stem this issue at the root. Almost 90% of illegal downloading is done through private internet connections. The bill that has been passed makes it legal to penalize the person caught downloading copyrighted material with a lifetime ban on usage of the Internet. This bill is called the "digital economy bill” and it was passed in recent days.
There are many pros and cons of this bill. It essentially gives the copyright industry a Card Blanche protection against piracy and infringements. This is positive when seen from their point of view. Downloading of such material has caused a lot of loss to celebrities and entertainment companies who’ve welcomed the passing of this bill. The cause for concern is that this bill gives the government a very effective censorship tool to control the media and various other democratic rights. The naysayers feel that this bill can be used or misused for personal or political gain. The system can be manipulated to encompass the needs of politicians and lobby groups. Furthermore the use of the bill can be spread to control other aspects of individual freedoms with one critic saying that people should be prepared for legal notices to be issued to unsuspecting house wives for their sons’ downloading music off the Internet. This does not look good for the present government which is facing elections this year. Internet penetration in the UK is one of the highest in the world and any attempts at controlling this type of information medium sends out signals of desperation and urgency.
All this aside, there have been many suggestions that the bill should have been a little more subtle and geared more towards the users’ needs. Copyright industry is also to blame because it puts up its material for everyone to view and makes a huge hue and cry when it is downloaded. To make things worse, they themselves can block downloading of copyrighted content to ensure than they are on the safe side, instead of harassing normal citizens.