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BT confident Digital Economy Act will be thrown out

Houses of Parliament

By Barry Collins

Posted on 14 Jul 2010 at 13:22

BT says it's confident that a court will overturn the Digital Economy Act because it infringes European law.

BT and fellow ISP TalkTalk last week asked the High Court to review the Digital Economy Act, which was rushed through at the end of the last Parliament.

The ISPs claim the legislation wasn't given due scrutiny in the House of Commons - which debated the bill for only two days - and questioned whether it was compatible with EU law.

The House of Commons barely got a look at this. Both houses should have a proper look at something, especially if it's controversial

"It cannot be held that the Digital Economy Act got a fair ride in Parliament," said BT's director of group industry policy, Simon Milner, at a Westminster e-Forum on file-sharing.

"The House of Commons barely got a look at this. Both houses should have a proper look at something, especially if it's controversial."

Milner claimed a clause added at the last minute, which places an onus on ISPs to block sites accused of hosting copyrighted material, was "included without any kind of impact assessment".

BT also claims that the law may infringe a European privacy directive, because the ISP is being asked to retain and manipulate data on its subscribers' internet activity.

"We don’t think the Government followed due process in terms of EU law – it simply did not have the time, because it tried to rush it through," Miler claimed. "In our view, the court will decide that it’s not fine."

Time to move on

Representatives of the content industry took a very different view, arguing that it was time to put the controversy of the Digital Economy Act behind us.

"This sniping at the Digital Economy Act undermines the law," argued Thomas Dillon, a former general counsel for the Motion Picture Association and a member of BAFTA. "It's a done deal. It's too late for that."

Dillon, who said he broadly supported the Digital Economy Act, also called for ISPs to take harsh action against convicted illegal file-sharers. "It would be better for the ISPs to exercise their contractual right to cut off or suspend someone who's a convicted file-sharer," he stated.

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User comments

Can they arrange the same for Mandelson?

I can wish can't I?

By cheysuli on 14 Jul 2010

The act should be reviewed. It gives the media industries too little impetus to change their archaic business models.

Instead of throttling the market they should be looking to adapt to it. Fundamentally this is not going to reverse their lost revenue nor impact file sharing.

Offering TV and film content for pay download, without DRM to consumers for the right price will.

As for "it's a done deal", it's a law. It can be repealed when it is found to be inappropriate - or do they see this as a deal between them and an unelected official where they paid him to force this rubbish through parliament? That isn't a law, that's corruption.

By bubbles16 on 14 Jul 2010

@bubbles16: Amen to that!

By russelllawson on 15 Jul 2010

No such thing as a 'convicted file-sharer'

"It would be better for the ISPs to exercise their contractual right to cut off or suspend someone who's a convicted file-sharer,"

This is the kind of scary winding back of the basic right to due process and innocent until proven guilty that opponents of this bill have highlighted. No one should be forcibly deprived of Internet access based on merely the accusation that they infringed copyright. The '3 strikes' rule reminds me of tales of witch trials in medieval times - accuse someone 3 times and they're automatically guilty.

Furthermore, even if it is taken to court, to be 'convicted' of something it must be a crime. Non-commercial copyright infringement is a civil matter and you can't be 'convicted' of any crime by doing so.

By happyskeptic on 15 Jul 2010

Please add your support

It would be great if all those who disagreed with the Digital Economy Act lent their support by coming along to ORGCON http://orgcon.eventbrite.com next week.

By 6tricky9 on 15 Jul 2010

«Convicted filesharer» ?

That does sound ominous - I fear that now I'm going to find myself constantly peering at individuals in the streets and wondering if they belong to this dangerous criminal class. As to the claim that such draconian measures are necessary to protect the interests and incomes of artists and creators, check out this recent techdirt article (http://preview.tinyurl.com/33zvkwn )....

Henri

By mhenriday on 15 Jul 2010

MPA and BAFTA buy legislation?

You say that Thomas Dillon, a former general counsel for the Motion Picture Association and a member of BAFTA. "It's a done deal."

This is most unfortunate. The law should be created, or remain on the statute books, because parliament thinks that it is a good idea. Not because a deal was done.

If some deal was done then it should be removed from the statute books immediately and the fraud squad ought to look into the circumstances of this deal.

By alexbowden2 on 15 Jul 2010

How ironic that BT and Talk Talk must be paying someone off people to repeal a "law" that was implemented as a result of someone (Peter Mandelson) being paid off. I suspect as a result of this failure there will be a media onslaught likening all file sharers to pedophiles and muslims.

By dodge1963 on 15 Jul 2010

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