Anti-piracy letter plans face delay over costs
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 6 Feb 2013 at 11:50
Government plans to send letters to file-sharers who download copyright material could be delayed after a key document outlining who should pay for the anti-piracy measures was withdrawn.
The Digital Economy Act lays out plans to send letters to file-sharers in a bid to protect the creative industries, but the "Sharing of Costs Order" - a key document in the process - has been pulled from the parliamentary process.
The resulting delays make it less likely the government will get anti-piracy measures, including warning letters and traffic blocks for repeat offenders, up and running for March 2014 as scheduled.
The Sharing of Costs Order details who should pay for the set-up and running costs of policing DEA enforcements, with ISPs and digital rights holders contributing.
"We need to make technical changes to the cost-sharing statutory instrument," a spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said. "These changes will not impact on the overall effect of the legislation. We will re-introduce the statutory instrument as soon as possible."
In the grand scheme of things it makes it look like the target for sending out letters in 2014 is possibly no longer realistic
According to digital rights campaigners that have been liaising with DCMS officials on the legislation, the document was withdrawn after objections from the Treasury, which was concerned the costs order failed to meet the Treasury's "Managing Public Money" guidelines.
The Treasury has yet to explain its objections, but the order – initially drafted by the DCMS with help from Ofcom - will now need to be redrafted and resubmitted to parliament.
It's unclear how long this will delay the introduction of the DEA, which was widely criticised as being poorly planned by the outgoing government back in 2010 when it was rushed through in the wash-up.
However, the latest roadblock for the DEA – which was previously delayed by court appeals from BT and TalkTalk – looks likely to scupper the plans to start sending letters out to copyright infringers next spring.
"It's going to take time – it has to go through the parliamentary process and then through the EU," said Peter Bradwell of the Open Rights Group. "In the grand scheme of things, it makes it look like the target for sending out letters in 2014 is possibly no longer realistic."
According to Bradwell, the Treasury could be concerned that public funds are being spent on a mechanism to generate income for private companies, with no real detail on when the money would be paid back.
"Ofcom is spending hefty amounts of public money, which ultimately would be paid back by copyright owners participating in the scheme," he said.
"The government maintains the issue now is technical compliance with the guidelines. The exact reasons are not clear. But the fact that Ofcom is stumping up many millions of pounds with apparently no clear commitment from copyright owners about who will pay it back, and when, could be part of the problem."
In a week when a pensioner starved to death
.. because the local council outsourced care to the lowest bidder (who was shut down by the border agency) and simply "forgot" about the people who should have been receiving care, the government priority is file sharers? Really?
They should look to the people they represent and tell copyright lobbyists to go hell!
Nobody died from a 12 year old downloading dub-step Mp3s. Meanwhile in the real world, ongoing outsourcing and cancellation of services like Meals on Wheels is quite literally killing people.
I think the money should be spent on Gran (yours or mine) not on providing private security for rich corporations.
"Managing Public Money" is better served on projects FOR the public.
By cheysuli on 6 Feb 2013
^^ Well said, sir!
By Mr_Flynn on 6 Feb 2013
Public money for public services
When the government has ensured the safety and wellbeing of all its citizens, then it can focus on corporate finances (if there's money to do so). As was said above... PRIORITIES..?!?
By _Alex_ on 7 Feb 2013
I have to agree with the statement about where money should be spent - especially public money. If the protected ones are the ones already making money and those left to suffer are in need of it then this government really doesnt know it's arse from it's elbow.
With that said, lets compare and ponder.
I have Cable TV, for which i pay a monthly premium - if i never watched BBC, one would expect to be allowed to negate a TV license, but this is not the case, i am stiffed on that too, even if i only ever want my premium offering.
Blockbuster used to be to be the place to go when you wanted a DVD night in, however things change and now love film and netflix are the chosen path of many, simply because you can stream on-demand what you want within your subscription period.
With all the offerings of streamed and live services and having to sign up to each one seperately - this starts adding up.
Is it not possible to consider a licensing fee or a broadband 'extra; addon as it were.
For £5 a month you get all the films you want (via one site, but could be streamed from any of the array out there) or likewise, all the music - an either or option.
For £10 stream all you want of both music and film, perhaps add it to the package and get a discount via your ISP - it is not impossible to do and options are there - stop trying to defend a dying race of the CD/Film world on media that people are finding difficult to; store, locate at times, out of stock and the usualy issues - allow online, on demand for these digital services and for a flat fee instead of per title
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