ISPs Lose Judicial Review Of Digital Economy Act
BT and TalkTalk have failed in their bid to have the Digital Economy Act’s copyright measures ruled illegal
The controversial Digital Economy Act (DEA) has passed a judicial review, and thousands of Internet users suspected of illegal downloads will get warning letters, as objections by service providers BT and TalkTalk have been dismissed in court.
The ISPs argued in court that the DEA was disproportionate, that it infringed users’ basic rights, and had not had enough parliamentary discussion, when it passed just before last year’s election. All but one of their objections were over-ruled in London’s high court, and the ISPs have said they will appeal.
Copyright owners claim to be losing 3400 million
The Digital Economy Act was created in response to complaints that Internet users are breaching copyright by sharing material online. It sets out a series of measures against illegal-file-sharers, starting with a warning and escalating persistent offenders having their Internet connection suspended.
The judge, Justice Kenneth Parker, ruled that Parliament had not over-stepped the mark, that the Act was proportionate, and that it was in line with European law. He did identify issues with the cost of implementing it, with ISPs currently expected to pay 25 percent of policing file-sharing breaches.
“Protecting our customers is our number one priority and we will consider our options once we have fully understood the implications for our customers and businesses,” said a statement from BT. “This was always about seeking clarity on certain points of law and we have to consider whether this judgment achieves these aims.”
“We’re disappointed that we were unsuccessful on most of the Judicial Review,” said a spokesman for TalkTalk.
Copyright owners in Britain have claimed they are losing up to £400 million a year because people can get away with file-sharing, but campaigners continue to dispute this.
“It is important to remember that this is not a judgement on whether the Digital Economy Act is good public policy,” said Peter Bradwell, campaigner at the Open Rights Group. “We still believe that if enacted the Act will hurt people’s privacy and access to the Internet for no proven gain. We hope that BT and TalkTalk will appeal and we will support them if they do.”