By: MarkJ - 22 July, 2011 (12:48 PM)
uk internet lawinternet piracyGovernment efforts to reboot the controversial UK Digital Economy Act (DEA), which seeks to identify and possibly even disconnect ("suspend") those suspected of "illegal" internet copyright infringement from their broadband access, have been dealt another blow today after it was revealed that ISPs BT and TalkTalk had been granted "permission to appeal and expedition" against the findings of a Judicial Review into the DEA earlier this year (here).

The Court of Appeal had initially thrown out an attempt by two of the country's largest broadband providers to challenge a rejection of their Judicial Review, which alleged that the act did not comply with various EU laws, although in reality there are many stages to the appeals process and it was thus not an outright rejection.

According to James Firth's Slightly Right of Centre blog, a short hearing for the new appeal has now been set for 7th October 2012. This, combined with efforts to redraft parts of the governments related rules and policy (partly due to the initial Judicial Review ruling), could conceivably result in yet another delay for the first ISP Warning Letters until early 2013.

James Firth said:

I've been told groups representing rights holders have "almost given up" on the 3-strikes provisions of the Digital Economy Act, and are now focussing their efforts on campaigning for a UK equivalent of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a controversial law which resulted in hundreds of Greenpeace videos being erroneously removed from YouTube this month.

I understand the DCMS position was for no further public consultation on the Digital Economy Act. However, with concerns from all sides of the debate - especially the approximately 200 ISPs operating in the UK - it's clear there are a number of stakeholders interested in the legislation. Let's hope this changes with any forthcoming announcement. Maybe the DCMS will wisely opt to use the summer recess period to consult on the draft notification?

Meanwhile we're still waiting to see Ofcom's near-final Initial Obligations Code (i.e. the rules that ISPs must comply with), which will need to be sent off to the European Commission (EC) first before being given approval.

The Draft code was first revealed last May 2010 (full details), although it's believed to have gone through a number of changes since then. Crucially there might now be an exemption for public intermediaries (e.g. schools and public WiFi; this would not include Hotel's etc.) Likewise the threshold before a warning letter is sent (i.e. the number of Copyright Infringement Report's (CIR) before an ISP issues any warning letters) could be set quite high to limit the possibility of mistakes and thus target more prolific sharing.
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