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UK Government Invites Consumer Groups to Join ISP Website Blocking Discussions

Posted: 31st Mar, 2011 By: MarkJ
UK DCMS internet copyrightpirate flagThe UK Government's Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey MP, has officially invited the Open Rights Group (ORG) and other civil society and consumer groups to join ISPs and Rights Holders in industry discussions over the formation of an alternative website blocking measure ("plan B") for the Digital Economy Act (DEA).

It emerged last week that one of the options being discussed as a replacement to the old and largely unworkable DEA clause (here) was a Voluntary Code of Practice that could end up blocking any website which had been deemed to "facilitate" internet copyright infringement.

An initial list of the 100 worst offenders, including The Pirate Bay, NewzBin2 and several cyber-locker file storage and sharing websites (e.g. Rapidshare?), has already been drawn up.

Dear Jim [Open Rights Group]

Thank you for your letter of 28 February about our recent meeting with stakeholders to discuss alternative plans for site-blocking measures in the Digital Economy Act (DEA).

[Jeremy Hunt] and I met with key players from the digital economy on 23 February to discuss developing new ways for people to access content online. Coming out of this meeting was a proposal for a Working Group to be formed to look at industry self-regulatory measures to tackle online copyright infringement through site-blocking.

I recognise that it is very important that consumer interests are considered very carefully, and we will be inviting consumer representative groups to participate in future discussions on the issue.

ED VAIZEY MP Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries

The Open Rights Group believes that website blocking is a bad idea, especially on a self-regulatory basis "where vital judicial oversight is bypassed". Indeed ISPs, which have been warming to the idea, also requested that an impartial judge be brought in to asses each case and thus provide some legal cover if the website owner decided to sue. Costs remain another issue.
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