Digital Britain: Interim Report

Digital Britain is a report published in January 2009 by the UK Government’s Departments of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

The report promotes the use of digital technology by citizens of the UK and sets out a number of recommendations that seek to enhance the use of digital by individuals and businesses.

In the main the report covers topics such as:

  • Next generation networks
  • Universal access to broadband
  • A new deal for digital content rights
  • Enhancing the digital delivery of public services

In respect of computer games and virtual worlds the report should be read in light of the Byron Review of 27 March 2008 and the subsequent establishment of The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) on 29 September 2008; as well as the Power of Information Taskforce Report of February 2009. In these respects the Digital Britain report has little to add to the Byron review other than setting the importance of digital literacy, particularly though not exclusively for children, in a wider social and economic context.

While the report makes no specific reference to virtual worlds it does mention ‘virtual communities of interest’ p3. In specific reference to video games the report notes:

UK content production is in turn an important part of the overall creative industries sector that in total accounts for more than 6 per cent of UK gross value added, which as a sector is equivalent in scale to the financial services industry. Radio and TV, along with software, computer games and electronic publishing account for around half of this total.
Digital Britain pP36

The UK games industry continues to make a significant financial, creative and cultural contribution to the UK, but is facing particular challenges.
Digital Britain pP37

There is now a growing expectation that content can be found and shared for free. There is a corresponding resistance to paying for content, or accepting that an inability to pay means an inability to access the content. The collective impact of small scale individual infringement is considered to be significant [...]. Film, games, broadcasters and the publishing industry are also increasingly being affected. Indeed, it is a phenomenon all the digital content sectors will have to face sooner or later.
Digital Britain pP41

ACTION 11 By the time the final Digital Britain report is published the Government will have explored with interested parties the potential for a Rights Agency to bring industry together to agree how to provide incentives for legal use of copyright material; work together to prevent unlawful use by consumers which infringes civil copyright law; and enable technical copyright-support solutions that work for both consumers and content creators. The Government also welcomes other suggestions on how these objectives should be achieved.
Such an approach would need rights-holders and distributors of all digital material (e.g. music, film, television and radio, software, computer games, e-books) to work together to develop ways of making this kind of piracy more difficult to do and easier to trace and prevent. This could involve working with authorities in other countries to act against damaging sources of infringing material. It could also include the exploration of new technical approaches…

Digital Britain p42

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