The Business Software Alliance, a lobbying group for the software industry, has claimed that the UK’s "cloud readiness" is impaired by the absence of law obliging Internet service providers to take down copyright infringing material from websites they host.
"To encourage investments in cloud R&D and infrastructure, IP laws must provide strong incentives for these investments and clear protection and vigorous enforcement against misappropriation and infringement," the BSA says in its Global Cloud Computing Scorecard report, published today.
The UK was docked 1 point out of 100 on the BSA’s cloud readiness scale due to the absence of an ISP takedown law.
"Takedown requirements are currently left to decisions by the courts and individual ISPs," the BSA wrote of the UK. "However, the Digital Economy Act 2010 contains provisions (sections 17 and 18) that would allow the Government to block access to Internet sites from which a ‘substantial amount of material’ is being made available that infringes copyright, or a site that ‘facilitates’ copyright infringement."
This BSA’s argument runs counter to a study by Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner, which found that policy changes in the US that limited liability of service providers for copyright infringement lead to increased investment in cloud computing.
Lerner found that that a US court of appeals ruling on The Cartoon Network, et al. v. Cablevision, which clarified that DVR suppliers were not responsible for their customers using the devices to store copyrighted material, lead to increased US investment in cloud computing, relative to the EU.
The BSA’s scorecard assessed countries on the basis of seven criteria: data privacy, security, cybercrime, intellectual property, ‘support for industry-led standards’, free trade and ICT readiness.
The UK ranked seventh, behind countries including France, Italy, Germany and the US, although the UK government’s G-Cloud initiative was praised as "the most fully elaborated cloud policy in Europe".
Japan was ranked as the best prepared for cloud computing, receving 83 out of a possible 100 points. Korea placed top in data privacy, due its recent replacement of an old patchwork of privacy laws with modern, comprehensive legislation, the report said.
Brazil, India and China ranked bottom of the table due to concerns of their intellectual property laws, a lack of standards and poor ICT infrastructure.
Thomas Boué, the BSA’s EMEA director of government affairs said that the UK had developed a good policy environment for cloud computing. “However, a healthy national market for cloud computing does not necessarily translate into a market that is attuned to the laws of other countries in a way that lets data flow smoothly across borders," he said.
The Business Software Alliance has strong links to software giant Microsoft. Founder Bill Gates and CEO Steven Ballmer donated a combined $10,000 to the lobbying group in both 2009 and 2010, according to data from US lobbying transparency site OpenSecrets.org.
Microsoft offers a cloud-hosted storage service, called SkyDrive, which allows users to share files with their friends.