Communications provider Entanet has warned that the UK government’s controversial anti-piracy Digital Economy Act (DEAct), which aims to impose stiff new rules upon internet providers and their customers, will now come so late that it risks going “out of date before it’s even implemented“.
The act itself, which was rushed through parliament before the May 2010 General Election, seeks to warn (Notification Letters) and potentially even punish (e.g. court action, service restrictions, disconnection etc.) broadband customers whom are suspected of repeated involvement with unlawful copyright infringement.
However, legal challenges by BT and TalkTalk, political disagreements, technical dilemmas, cost concerns and other problems mean that Ofcom’s related Initial Obligations Code won’t even begin to work until early 2014.
Darren Farnden, Entanets Head of Marketing, said:
“We’re not fans of the DEA, that’s no secret, but it’s been two years since its ‘back door’ entry into law and we have seen very little progress. In fact last month, with the launch of it’s Initial Obligations Code, Ofcom announced that the controversial three strikes warning letters will not commence until 2014 – a whole four years after the law was passed! With so much notice, surely the most prolific infringers will have discovered even more ways to circumvent the DEA by the time it’s enforced.
Whilst we appreciate the need for the entertainment industries to protect their material, pursuing people through the courts based on shaky IP address information and then threatening them with warning letters and disconnection is not the way to tackle this issue. Entertainment companies need to reassess their business models to take advantage of the opportunities the Internet brings, not fight them.
It’s clear from the recent growth figures that this is possible and is beginning, but more needs to be done to encourage users to purchase media through legal channels with less focus on pursuing ‘offenders’, especially when the prolific offenders will be using proxies and VPNs to avoid detection anyway. We have opposed the DEA since its first inception and the longer its implementation drags on the more pointless it becomes.”
Meanwhile recent evidence suggests that more direct methods, such as the easily circumnavigated solution of blocking access to related websites, appears to have had no negative impact on related P2P BitTorrent file sharing traffic (here) and seems to even be boosting the profile of affected sites.
In fairness the launch of new services, such as Spotify for music and LOVEFiLM Instant or Netflix for movies, suggests that Rights Holders haven’t been completely dormant in responding to the need for new economic models.
But the age-old problems of staggered release cycles between different countries/formats, affordability (mostly in terms of individual TV and film content), DRM and international licensing restrictions remain key barriers that have yet to be completely overcome.