Digital Economy Act: latest news

Naomi Korn, the Strategic Content Alliance’s IPR consultant, writes:

A judicial review of the measures to tackle online copyright infringement within the Digital Economy Act, which has been brought by BT and Talk Talk, has just ruled in favour of the Government. BT and Talk Talk claimed that the measures in the Digital Economy Act to cut the internet services of users who allegedly download illegal content such as music, films and books, were not compliant with EU law nor were proportionate. This argument was rejected by the judge, Mr Justice Kenneth Parke, who upheld the principle of the measures within the Act to tackle the unlawful downloading of copyright material.

Because of the ambiguity of the Digital Economy Act, public sector bodies may, by virtue of their activities, be defined as both ISPs and Subscribers and this is likely to have cost and/or legal implications for them in providing online and/or wifi access to students and/or visitors. Although Mr Justice Kenneth Parke also ruled that ISPs would not be required to pay Ofcom’s costs from setting up, monitoring and enforcing the Act, they would still be obligated to pay a share of the cost of operating the system and the appeals process.  This will have ramifications regarding the costs that public sector organisations are likely to incur in ensuring that they have the necessary technological infrastructure in place to comply with any obligations associated with their definitions of ISPs under the Digital Economy Act

Reactions to the ruling can be found here:

In November 2010, the Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport called for evidence-based responses to the Digital Economy Act, 2010 (DEA). Due in part perhaps to the reaction of the creative industries and cultural heritage sector as well as higher education to the DEA, the Select Committee has been asked in investigate to what extent the DEA is a reasonable and sufficient response to the challenges facing the creative industries and individuals in digital markets. The deadline for written evidence is Friday 6 May 2011. This provides an opportunity for public sector organisations who have not already done so, to respond to the Select Committee consultation citing the impact of the recent ruling.

The original terms of reference for the inquiry can be read at Protection of Intellectual Property Rights Online

In addition to responding to the Commons Select Committee consultation, it is also vital that organisations across the public sector ensure they already implement robust measures to avoid risks of infringing the provisions in the Act and as a result, additional costs and possible future limitation or suspension of their network and internet access.

The SCA has just produced a brand new portable and customisable learning module on the Digital Economy Act as part of a suite of learning resources

which outlines the issues associated with the Act and provides links to a number of reusable tools and other useful resources. Incorporated within the learning module is also the SCA’s  briefing paper on the Digital Economy Act which outlines a number of practical measures that public sector organisations can consider implementing to help ensure compliance with the Digital Economy Act