Contact a Lord

The Digital Economy Bill is due to enter Committee Stage in the House of Lords on the 6th of January 2010.  In this stage the bill will be examined line-by-line. It’s the best opportunity to change the bill before it moves to the House of Commons.

How can I help?

Get in touch with a Lord and explain to them why you think the bill is a bad idea. Any Lord can take part in the committee stage, but certain Lords are more likely to be present than others due to existing ties to the bill or to the creative sector. Of course, writing to any Lord and explaining the problems with this bill can only be helpful, so please feel free to write to any Lord you choose. Unlike with Members of Parliament, Lords do not serve a geographic area so you can write to any and as many as you choose!

Lord Mandelson

As sponsor of the bill it is perhaps unlikely that Lord Mandelson will give up on it. But then, that isn’t what we want – there is no disagreement on the fact that copyright violation is a serious problem, nor that the other parts of the DIB are for the most part reasonable; the problem is just that throwing out the presumption of innocence in order to deal with an economic problem is a break with the Golden Thread that has run through British law for centuries. So please, why not write to Lord Mandelson and explain that the country cannot and does not support this bill with the burden of proof placed on the accused.

You can reach Mandelson at:

The Rt Hon. the Lord Peter Mandelson,
The House of Lords,
London, SW1A 0PW.

Lord Fowler

Lord Fowler is chair of the Select Committee on Communications, so it’s understandable that he is worried about the impact of copyright infringement on the entertainment industry. At the second reading of the bill he explained that

If you have invested heavily in a film only to find that this is being distributed free on the internet, clearly your whole business plan is put at risk.

He accepts that there is widespread objection to this bill, but at the moment he seems to think that the objection comes only from the idea that file sharing is a legitimate activity. Why not write to him and explain that the objection comes from the idea of a largely unsupervised, unregulated system taking action against internet users based on merely the allegation of guilt.

Lord Fowler also recognizes that there is a part to be played by the media industry making more content available legitimately, so why not ask him whether he would be willing to demand the cuts in price that were mentioned both by Lord Mandelson and by the impact assessment that accompanied the bill?

But above all, please make it clear to him that the public can support an anti-infringement bill, but not one that dispenses with the very foundations of British justice.

You can reach Lord Fowler at:

The Rt Hon. the Lord Nigel Fowler,
The House of Lords,
London, SW1A 0PW.

Lord Razzall

Lord Razzall criticised the bill at its second reading for going against the tenets of natural justice and particularly for upsetting the presumption of innocence. Why not write to him to applaud his commitment to the British justice system and to encourage him to continue to be present at these debates and to oppose the parts of the bill that are an affront to the British justice system. You can reach Lord Razzall at:

The Rt Hon. the Lord Razzall,
The House of Lords,
London, SW1A 0PW.

Lord Birt

Lord Birt spoke at the second reading of the bill in the House of Lords, to say that

the carefully graded response set out in the Bill will apply only to an absolutely identifiable account which is used at a precise moment in time, measured to the second, by someone who admits to possessing specific named content and then transmits that content online to a third party in breach of copyright

This is not what the bill says. The bill targets connections and not individuals, allowing action to be taken based on the activity of anyone on the connection – this could be complete strangers using your WiFi network, housemates using a connection in your name, neighbours sharing your connection or any number of other people – not necessarily the owner of the connection.

Lord Birt did suggest that media companies should make their content more easily and widely available, a very good suggestion.

Please write to Lord Birt to explain the problems with his understanding of the Bill, and to suggest that if he believes the media companies should do more that the bill address this problem.

You can reach him at:

The Rt Hon. the Lord Birt,
The House of Lords,
London, SW1A 0PW.

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