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BT and TalkTalk lose appeal over internet piracy ruling

Tuesday, March 6th 2012
Internet service providers BT and TalkTalk have lost their High Court appeal against legislation aimed at cutting out online piracy.
BT and TalkTalk lose appeal over internet piracy ruling
TalkTalk and BT have lost a High Court appeal against the UK's Digital Economy Act, a measure intended to curb illegal file-sharing and other forms of online piracy in Britain.

The internet service providers (ISPs) argued that the act was contrary to EU law but have been told it is not, meaning that the government and ISPs will now be able to send cease and desist letters to users of broadband services who are discovered to be sharing files in contravention of copyright laws.

Although the two companies complained that the legislation places an unfair burden on them and results in an unreasonable expense, they praised the additional clarity the court case has brought to the issue.

"We are reviewing this long and complex judgement and considering our options. Though we have lost this appeal we will continue fighting to defend our customers' rights against this ill-judged legislation," said TalkTalk in a statement.

BT added that they had been uncertain as to the practicality of implementing the law in the UK and would now consider their next steps carefully in light of the High Court's decision.

Copyright advocates told BBC News they are pleased with the decision and the possibility that it will lead to a clampdown on illegal file-sharing, something which many people claim is damaging creative industries in Britain.

Christine Payne, general secretary of the actors' union Equity, said the almost two million people working in this sector are in danger of losing their livelihoods because of copyright theft.

However Adam Rendle, a copyright specialist at international law firm Taylor Wessing, claimed the two ISPs are likely to bring their appeal to the UK's Supreme Court in a bid to change the verdict.

The Digital Economy Act passed in 2010 and has met with criticism from several different parties since its inception, with broadband providers criticising the pressure it places on them and internet users who expressed concern over its implications for freedom of speech.

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