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UK Software Federation Happy for ISPs to Pay Piracy Enforcement Costs

Posted: 21st Sep, 2010 By: MarkJ
fastiisThe Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), a UK not-for-profit organisation that champions the legitimate use of software, has welcomed last week's news from the government that broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be forced to pay 25% of the costs associated with tackling online copyright infringement (i.e. "illegal" p2p file sharing).

Last week saw many UK broadband providers expressing deep disappointment at the outcome (here), which in fairness requires Rights Holders to pay 75% of the costs for related customer notification (warning letters) and appeals processes.

John Lovelock, Chief Executive of FAST, commented:

"It is very interesting to finally see the Government’s response and this appears to be a sensible compromise. We are pleased that our call – along with many rights holders – that the ISPs must share some burden of costs as it means that pressure is applied to ensure operational methods and systems are cost efficient.

We concede that in court action, copyright owners usually must pay, but at court if you win, such costs are generally recoverable which is at odds with this system. Questions do remain on the detail however, including how the 75% is totted up. We are nervous that costs outside of the copyright owners’ control may be unintentionally inflated.

Think about it, what systems will there be and who will pay for these? Will “systems” be necessary? How accessible will such systems be to those who have not paid for their development? Does the cost depend on pre-agreed volumes disclosed by rights holders and are such payments made in advance to ISPs and Ofcom? Should copyright holders commit to cost when there is a Judicial Review on the Act with the decision currently unknown?

This news is a major milestone for the never ending work to defeat online piracy. Consumers must be educated on legitimate downloads meaning increased legitimate sales and a positive prospect for the Creative Industries. Overall, whilst this is a welcome outcome, the devil is in the detail."

Ironically most ISPs, despite wanting to avoid any additional costs, would probably agree with Lovelock's sentiment concerning the need for more detail on how such cost sharing will be apportioned and whether or not it should even be started while BT and TalkTalk are seeking to win a Judicial Review against the Digital Economy Act 2010 (DEA) itself.

Ofcom will shortly issue a related cost consultation, which should seek to answer most of these questions, although the delays have already triggered a 3 month deadline extension.
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