Measures to tackle Internet piracy moved forward today, as the Government and Ofcom took the next steps to bring the Digital Economy Act’s mass notification system into effect.
The system will see letters sent to account holders whose Internet connections are identified as being used to unlawfully share films, music and other copyright material.
The Government today laid secondary legislation in Parliament that deals with who will pay for mass notification while Ofcom launched a final consultation on its code that sets out exactly how the system will work.
The letters will explain what copyright is, where to find legitimate content and offer advice on protecting Internet connections from unauthorised users.
Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey said:
“It is essential that Government creates the right conditions for businesses to grow.
“We must ensure our creative industries can protect their investment. They have the right to charge people to access their content if they wish, whether in the physical world or on the Internet.
“We are putting in place a system to educate people about copyright to ensure they know what legitimate content is and where to find it.
“The Digital Economy Act is an important part of protecting our creative industries against unlawful activity.”
The secondary legislation sets out that the cost of the letter system will largely be met by rights holders with Internet service providers paying a smaller element. The legislation also includes a £20 charge for anyone wishing to formally challenge a letter. The fee would be refunded if the appeal was successful.
Ofcom’s Initial Obligations Code sets out exactly how the system will work and will also need to be approved by Parliament.
The Government will also seek to repeal sections 17 and 18 of the Digital Economy Act (DEA) at an early opportunity. These sections contain reserve powers to allow courts to order that access to websites dedicated to copyright infringement be blocked.
In August last year the Government announced it would not bring forward the site-blocking provisions in the DEA after Ofcom concluded the specific measures in the Act would not work in practice.
Also rights holders have successfully used existing legislation - section 97A of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act - to secure court orders instructing Internet service providers to block access to websites dedicated to copyright infringement. So far rights holders have secured orders for Newzbin2 and Pirate Bay.
The Government is committed to removing unnecessary legislation from the statute book and will therefore remove sections 17 and 18 of the DEA.
Notes to Editors
Ofcom’s consultation on the Initial Obligations Code can be found here.
A statutory instrument setting out how the mass notification system would be paid for was previously laid in Parliament. It said the costs of the system would be split 75:25 between rights holders and Internet service providers. In a judicial review of the DEA and a subsequent appeal, the courts ruled against Government on two minor points concerning costs. Now Internet service providers will not contribute to the cost of setting up the system or of any appeal against a letter. The revised statutory instrument published today includes this amendment.
The announcement about the Government’s decision not to bring forward the site-blocking provisions in the DEA can be found here. Ofcom’s report on those provisions in the DEA is here.
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