Britain’s Digital Economy Bill will be passed before the General Election despite a shortage of parliamentary time, according to U.K. labels body the BPI.

“We’re doing everything we can to convince [U.K. Prime Minister] Gordon Brown he doesn’t need an election just yet,” quipped BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor. “Timing is very tight but on balance I think we will get it.”

The election must be held by June 3, but most observers expect it in early May, leaving very little time for the Bill, which includes measures to send warning letters to those that infringe copyright online, to pass through Parliament.

“We do wish the Bill was stronger,” said Taylor of the government’s decision to water down original plans for a “three-strikes”-type bill. “But if in the course of this year millions of letters go out to file-sharers that will have an impact on the business. We think the government is wrong to wait on further measures but maybe for political reasons it’s taking an easier course.”

Taylor was speaking at a special MIDEM press conference debating differing governmental approaches to fighting piracy. Also on the panel were Spanish labels body Promusicae president Antonio Guisasola, IFPI Sweden chairman Ludvig Werner, Songwriters Assn. of Canada president Eddie Schwartz and Naïve CEO/indies body IMPALA president Patrick Zelnick.

Zelnick’s recent report for the French government, which recommended a controversial collective licensing scheme for online music among many other measures, was also debated.

With the French government giving the music industry a year to voluntarily implement such a scheme (, Jan. 24), Zelnick said collective licensing would “simplify access” to online services and increase competition in the sector, adding that “the industry failed to build a digital market in the last 10 years.”

But Taylor said there would be “no call” for such a “regimented, regulatory system” in the United Kingdom, where “the digital market is functioning very well.”

The executives saw encouragement in a rise in both physical and digital sales in markets like Sweden and South Korea that have recently introduced new copyright legislation, but warned it was too early to draw any conclusions, while ISPs were criticized for their reluctance to enter voluntary agreements on fighting piracy with the music industry.

Schwartz meanwhile called for the industry to monetize file-sharing sites by bundling a license fee with Internet subscriptions.

The industry should “abandon the notion of massive behavioural modification,” he said. “If we can’t beat them maybe we need to join them.”