Widespread and thoroughgoing participation in the digital economy – ‘the global network of economic and social activities that are enabled by information and communications technologies’ (Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy 2013) – is widely acknowledged to be one of the keys to future productivity, competitiveness and social well-being. The direct contribution of the Internet to the Australian economy was AU$50 billion in 2010 (with an additional AU$80 billion in productivity increases for business and benefits to households) (Deloitte Access Economics 2011, 1). The equivalent UK figure was £100 billion in 2009 (ibid., 8). In recent years, digital economy policy in countries such as Australia, the UK and the US, has focused on technological issues around the construction and availability of high-speed fixed and mobile broadband, access to broadband services including e-government services, and the affordability of broadband connectivity. These are clearly important, but such a concentration has had the effect of softening policy focus on issues around digital content and on the circumstances of, and challenges facing, digital content producers and service providers. A recent OECD Digital Economy paper acknowledged that infrastructure development and access prices are priority areas, but it also noted that they are ‘simply tools’ to achieve larger social and economic goals (OECD/ ISOC/UNESCO 2013, 5). The role of digital content cannot be ignored.
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