The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats provided Panorama with the following statements outlining their positions on the government's Digital Economy Bill. The government's policy is set out on the Digital Britain website.
We will ensure that Britain has the most favourable intellectual framework in the world for innovators and high tech businesses.
We recognise the need to tackle digital piracy and make it possible for people to buy and sell digital intellectual property online. That is why we broadly support the measures included in the Digital Economy Bill.
However it is vital that any anti-piracy measures promote new business models rather than holding innovation back.
Liberal Democrats statement
The Liberal Democrats support the creative industries, are concerned about the financial implications of illegal downloading of copyright material and recognise the importance of protecting intellectual property.
However, we have opposed - and helped defeat - government proposals (contained in Clause 17 of the original Digital Economy Bill) to have almost unfettered power to act against copyright infringement.
Liberal Democrats, in the Lords, have significantly altered the government's original proposals relating to illegal person to person file sharing.
As a result, no action to introduce "technical measures" (whether temporary account suspension, throttling or whatever) can be introduced until;
1. soft measures (letter writing) have been used
2. an evaluation of their effectiveness has been undertaken
3. an evaluation of the need for and likely effectiveness of technical measures has been undertaken
4. consultation has taken place
5. proposed legislation is brought before parliament for decision
6. there is an explicit assumption of innocence until proved guilty
Lib Dems hope that temporary account suspension as a very last resort will not be required.
We hope that the relevant creative industries (music, film and video games) will work more vigorously to develop new business models which will make it easier and more affordable for people to legally access their products and that combined with "soft measures" and effective advertising campaigns against illegal downloading further action will not be required.
We would not support the introduction of temporary account suspension (TAS) unless all the measures outlined above (including the development of new business models by the creative industries) demonstrate that a significant problem continues to exist, that TAS is the only available solution and that appropriate judicial procedures are in place to ensure that people remain innocent until proved guilty.
Liberal Democrats have agreed at their Spring Conference to establish a working party to address these issues. With at least a year before there will be any attempt to introduce "technical measures", this will provide an opportunity for the party to consider the outcome of research into the effectiveness of the early stages of the implementation of the legislation in the Digital Economy Bill.
The government's policy is set out on the