Judge rules against BT and TalkTalk in Digital Economy Act review

Thursday, April 21st 2011
The internet service providers have had their judicial review of the act thrown out.
Judge rules against BT and TalkTalk in Digital Economy Act review
BT and TalkTalk have lost the majority of their judicial review of the Digital Economy Act (DEA), which aims to tackle the unlawful downloading of music, films and other copyrighted content.

The internet service providers (ISPs) won the right for their concerns regarding the controversial legislation to be heard in court back in November 2010, arguing some of the measures contained in the act are disproportionate and do not comply with European Union law.

Outlining the case against the DEA, TalkTalk's strategy and regulation chief Andrew Heaney insisted it would fail to prevent illegal filesharing, will prove hugely expensive and is "grossly unfair", as broadband subscribers are effectively held responsible for any unlawful activity carried out by other users of their connection.

"The DEA isn't a sledgehammer to crack a nut - it's a sledgehammer that misses the nut completely," Mr Heaney stated.

But judge Mr Justice Kenneth Parker has thrown out the challenge, ruling that the ISPs could be made to pay a share of the costs for contacting customers accused of illegal filesharing, as well as stumping up some of the money required for the appeals process.

However, he said it is not fair for the likes of BT and TalkTalk to foot some of the bill for Ofcom's setting up, monitoring and enforcing expenses.

The UK's telecoms industry watchdog has also been asked by the government to review section 17 of the DEA. Ofcom will assess whether or not steps included in the act allowing courts to block websites that are largely based on offering unlawful access to copyrighted material would work in practice.

Responding to the news, a spokesman from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport expressed satisfaction at the decision, commenting: "We are pleased that the court has recognised these measures as both lawful and proportionate.

"The government remains committed to tackling online piracy and so will set out the next steps for implementation of the DEA shortly."

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