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Ofcom to Publish UK ISP Internet Piracy Initial Obligations Code in June 2012

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 (8:19 am) - Score 836

The UK governments Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed that Ofcom is expected to publish its final Initial Obligations Code of Practice proposal for tackling internet copyright infringement (piracy) by customers of broadband providers in June 2012, which is a much delayed requirement of the controversial Digital Economy Act (DEAct).

Ofcom published its first draft of the code almost exactly two years ago (here) and since then the process has faced repeated legal challenges from ISPs (example), concern over costs (ISPs have to help pay for it), damage from other legal rulings in the copyright space (e.g. here, here, here and here) and not to mention a vast swathe of opposition from various different political and non-political groups alike.


Today’s confirmation came as part of DCMS’s official response to the January 2012 proposals from the Film Policy Review Panel (FPRP), which included several recommendations for tackling internet piracy (e.g. “illegal” P2P file sharing).

Government Response

The Government welcomes the Panel’s recommendation and remains committed to implementing the Digital Economy Act provisions as soon as possible. The Judicial Review of the online infringement of copyright provisions has caused significant delay since although the Government won overwhelmingly in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, the point upon which we lost in both cases has meant that we have had to re-set how the costs of the process will be apportioned. This in turn has led to the Initial Obligations Code being delayed. However, we anticipate that the Code will be published in June 2012.

We will also support efforts to improve the evidence base on intellectual property generally, as well as on copyright infringements. The Government works together with industry and enforcement agencies through the Intellectual Property Crime Group (of which the Alliance Against I.P Theft, the Federation Against Copyright Theft and the British Video Association are members) to produce the annual Intellectual Property crime report. Further contributions from the film industry to the report are welcome. The UK’s IP Crime Strategy furthermore sets out that industry has a valuable role to play in providing evidence.

But it could be awhile before the code, which might still need a final round of consultation, is actually implemented. The DCMS admitted last month (April 2012) that it didn’t expect the Digital Economy Act (DEA) itself, and all of its provisions, to be implemented until 2014 (here); largely as a result of the aforementioned delays.

Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, said:

The UK film industry is a real success story and I want it to thrive and grow. Economically and culturally British film makes a great contribution and it’s vital that we make the most of the very real opportunity for economic growth it offers.

Chris Smith’s comprehensive review made practical and innovative recommendations. I’m pleased that Government and industry can sign up to much of this straight away. Along with the BFI, we’re committing to action that will not only drive and encourage investment in British films but will also develop and nurture the next generation of British film makers.”

The Film Policy Review Panel also recommended that Government continues to facilitate the partnership work of content creators, ISPs and others to “tackle websites which permit or promote copyright infringement“. In reply, DCMS said that it promised “to see progress this year” in order to “make websites dedicated to infringement more difficult to access and less profitable to operate“.

Regular readers will know that the government has been working on a new Voluntary Code of Practice since early 2011 (here), which will see broadband providers (ISP) being required to block any internet sites that are deemed to “facilitateinternet piracy, although this too has experienced delays. The voluntary code is most likely to surface as part of the forthcoming Draft Communications Bill (i.e. the rules that govern much of Ofcom’s remit to regulate) before the end of 2012 (possibly this summer).


The Government’s Response to “A Future For British Film..” (PDF)

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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