Saturday 1 June 2013

No UK 'three strikes' until 2017? Perhaps never?

I'm going to give you a damn good thrashing!
James Firth, writing on the Slightly Right of Centre (SRoC) blog, has said that its unlikely that a UK ‘graduated response’ – or ‘three strikes’ scheme, set out in the Digital Economy Act 2010 to limit internet access to persistent online copyright infringers, will be in place before 2016 at the earliest.

Noting that two Statutory Instruments will be needed to flesh-out how the copyright infringement warning letters will be dispatched, paid for and appealed, the a so-called Initial Obligations Code, and a shorter Cost Sharing Order defining how the cost of scheme will be split between copyright owners and internet service providers, are nowhere near reaching the statute books, Firth also notes that both of these relatively ‘simple’ pieces of legislation have so far only got to the ‘notification’ stage. Citing contacts at Westminster, adds that “Two separate sources told me not to expect the remaining secondary legislation this side of the general election” with one source described the copyright provisions in the Digital Economy Act as "unimplementable".

Firth cites three different causes for the possible delay: firstly a spat between the Treasury and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport; secondly disagreements between Internet Service Providers and content owners over who pays for the cost of the scheme; and thirdly ‘politics – not least the recent growth in digital revenues for music, TV and film (which might be seen to negate the need for a three strikes approach) and concerns raised by ISPs and civil rights groups over issues such as privacy and liability with shared internet access.

Firth also adds “Additionally the Communications Bill, originally planned for 2014, is rumoured to have been postponed until after the general election.  This Bill would be a natural place to overhaul the primary legislation if amendments are require to the Digital Economy Act in order for it to be implemented.  But this would likely push warning letters out to 2017 or beyond.”

Image: From an episode of  'Fawlty Towers' entitled 'Gourmet Night' (BBC) when Basil's car breaks down just once too often - and this time at a critical his disastrous 'Gourmet' evening at the hotel. He warns the car to start, calls it a 'vicious bastard', gives it a count of three to start, and then launches into a full on assault.


Francis Davey said...

James's reference to "simple" is only to the Costs Sharing Order. The Initial Obligations Code is anything but simple. The draft ran to 22 pages.

Unknown said...

Thanks Francis, you said it! The second order is quite complicated, in all senses.