For Law Tutors and Students – Plans to block illegal file-sharing websites scrapped

The government have, in effect, recently announced that plans to block illegal file-sharing websites have been scrapped as they would be ineffective.

In just a few weeks we will all be scratching our heads trying to think of something instructive or inspiring to say to first year law students regarding the subject about which they are to study for the next two years. For those of us who may need a subject for debate or discussion in those important introductory sessions with students – you may find the recent statement by the Creative Industries Minister, Ed Vaizey, an invaluable resource.

The government have in effect recently announced that plans to block illegal file-sharing websites have been scrapped as they would be ineffective.

During the early days of many law courses we try not only to enthuse students about law but also to tackle the question of why society needs a set of rules and regulations. One approach is to invite students to consider the prospect of a society without laws and some means to make them work. Why have civilisations found it necessary to adopt laws?  How do such laws and standards of behaviour reflect the needs of the society and can they embrace and meet the needs of commerce and business as well as consumers and other team players?

The present question raised by this recent announcement as to whether the current copyright laws in the UK are adequate to meet the needs of the digital media age may be an example worth exploring with a generation of people to whom music and the smart phone is everything.

We are often told that the purpose of our laws is to meet the needs of such activity as the entering into and enforceability of agreements – what is basically the law of contract. The digital industry is a main player in the provision of goods and services but does the law meet the needs of the key players?  Music and film publishers and their investment? Artists and their creative skills and genius? Distributors?  Investors and wealth makers?  Consumers? And does it deter wrong doers?

The topic may lend itself to student discussion and debate and encourage students to look at how the law needs to provide a practical framework which is enforceable at the end of the day but does not stifle business activity and creativity.

Students could use their debating skills to represent the various interests involved.

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