Posts Tagged ‘digital economy act’
BT and Talk Talk have lost an appeal over measures to tackle copyright infringement online. All the ISPs argued that the UK’s Digital Economy Act was incompatible with EU law, which says that they’ll have to be the ones to send warning letters to illegal downloaders as well as cutting users off.
The firms’ lawyers said that stricter measures could result in an invasion of privacy and create disproportionate costs for both ISPs and consumers.
In a statement, Talk Talk said it was now “considering our options”. They added: ”We’re disappointed that our appeal was unsuccessful though we welcome the additional legal clarity that has been provided for all parties. Though we have lost this appeal, we will continue fighting to defend our customers’ rights against this ill-judged legislation.”
A spokesman for BT said: “We have been seeking clarification from the courts that the DEA is consistent with European law, and legally robust in the UK, so that everyone can be confident in how it is implemented. Now that the court has made its decision, we will look at the judgment carefully to understand its implications and consider our next steps.”
Of course, the ISPs have been long chided by the creative industries. Christine Payne, general secretary of the Actors’ union Equity, called on the ISPs to “stop fighting and start obeying the law”. Through the medium of dance, she continued: ”Once again the court is on the side of the almost two million workers in the creative industries whose livelihoods are put at risk because creative content is stolen on a daily basis.”
Adam Rendle, a copyright specialist at international law firm Taylor Wessing, expects BT and Talk Talk to take this to the Supreme Court, saying: ”We know how keen internet users are to protect what they see as freedom of speech. When the Digital Economy Act itself was passed in the dying stages of the Labour government, there was a huge amount of disquiet that this kind of important legislation was being introduced without proper scrutiny.”
“That kind of disquiet didn’t result in the kind of action we’ve seen against Acta and Sopa. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a lot more public outcry than there was when the Act was first passed.”
Government plans to send warning letters to alleged illegal downloaders have been punched in the side of the head by the strong arm of the law. If this pleases you, you might be bemused to find that the people you should be thanking are BT and Talk Talk, two companies that are widely disliked by their past and current customers.
The letter-sending frenzy was part of the Digital Economy Act, but that whole big stinking mess has now been held up by the announcement of a high court judicial review that could hold it up until next summer at the earliest.
BT and Talk Talk have lodged a series of challenges to the Act, claiming that it infringes net users’ ‘basic rights and freedoms’ – although we find ourselves wondering just what’s in it for them.
The result of the judicial review should be announced within six to eight weeks but the side that comes off worst is likely to appeal. That could mean an outing in the European courts, and maybe even the inter-galactic and celestial courts before it all gets sorted out.
In the meantime, why don’t you kids carry on downloading your Tom & Jerry cartoons and your Jeremy Clarkson eBooks with impunity, safe in the knowledge that the law is unable to send you any warning letters for now.
Make the most of it – it won’t last forever.
ISPs are spitting feathers today after the Government announced plans to force them to stump up 25% of the costs of enforcing online piracy measures as part of the Digital Economy Act.
Rights holders will send IP address of users who have been caught downloading copyrighted material illegally to Britain’s major ISPs. They will then have to faff about sending warning letters and taking people to court if they get sent three notifications within a year.
Of course, the trouble here is that anything that costs the ISPs money will be passed on to their customers who, for the most part, have done nothing wrong. It all seems like a teacher giving an entire class detention because some prick was horsing about and won’t own up.
Copyright Infringement Notice will have the right of appeal for free, with ISPs and rights holders splitting the entire costs of the scheme on a 25:75 ratio.
The Government did warn however, that the service probably won’t be free forever, presuming that there may be too many people trying to use the service.
“The Government will monitor the situation closely, and reserves the right to introduce a small fee at a later stage,” a statement said.
ISPs don’t want to pay for the misbehaving of their customers. They also don’t want to get the ire of their customers up, and so, are pointing the finger at the only people left – the rights holders. ISPs believe that they should bear the full costs because they’d be the ones who would stand to gain from any legal action taken over piracy.
If someone is going to have to cough-up coins for illegal downloading, then who should pay? It’s a question that could well go round and round until the end of time itself.
The Digital Economy Act, passed days before Parliament was dissolved for the General Election, was and still is regarded as something of a sow’s ear. Deliberately rushed through with little time to be debated, passed into law by MPs who didn’t necessarily understand what they were voting on, nobody seemed particularly happy with the outcome.
The more questionable aspects of the Act included proposals to force ISPs to disconnect illegal file-sharers and give copyright holders the power to block access to websites hosting illegal content.
Now BT and TalkTalk to joined together to seek a judicial review of the Act, to clarify its legality before it’s implemented next year. And both companies talk a good game, stating that their concerns are for their customers and their “basic rights and freedoms”. Says Charles Dunstone, chairman of TalkTalk:
“The Digital Economy Act’s measures will cost the UK hundreds of millions and many people believe they are unfair, unwarranted and won’t work. Innocent broadband customers will suffer and citizens will have their privacy invaded.”
BT whistle a very similar tune – this from Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Retail: “We feel we have no choice. We have to do this for our customers.”
Hooray for the big guys, standing up for the man on the stree- sorry, what’s that? Of course, the devil is very much in the detail; as it stands the Act specifies that only ISPs with more than 400,000 customers must take action against customers, so rather than this being all about the consumer, this fight is actually about protecting their profits:
Andrew Heaney, executive director of TalkTalk, told the BBC: “It means we could have huge swathes of customers moving to smaller ISPs to avoid detection.”
And there we are . Nobody would have cared if they’d said they were challenging the Act in the interests of self-preservation. Always best to get your story straight before talking to the press.