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ISPs fail in Digital Economy Act review

Only one component of the High Court judicial review into the UK Digital Economy Act - instigated late last year by leading ISPs BT and TalkTalk - was upheld by Justice Kenneth Parker in his landmark ruling this week.

Only one component of the BT/TalkTalk-instigated High Court judicial review into the UK Digital Economy Act was upheld by Justice Kenneth Parker.

As previously reported on PSNE (read here), the two ISPs had complained about “insufficient” parliamentary scrutiny of the legislation, which contains a raft of measures intended to tackle illegal downloading and filesharing.

BT and TalkTalk also argued that some components of the act were potentially in conflict with European commerce and privacy law.

The judicial review was granted on 9 November and got underway in late March, but on 21 April it was announced that only one of the ISP’s objections – about enforcement costs – was to be upheld.

The Government will now conduct a review of the draft costs sharing order, but ISPs will no longer have to pay 25% of the expense of establishing an appeals body. They will, however, still have to pay a quarter of the cost of mailing warning letters to internet users believed to be downloading material illegally; the remaining 75% will be picked up by rights’ holders.

Pending any further appeal, it is expected that the initial round of warning letters to internet users thought to be infringing copyrighted material will be distributed in early 2012.

Responding to the latest developments, producer, Deep Recording Studios manager and MPG (UK) vice-chairman Mark Rose told PSNE: “I am delighted to see the positive and fair progress of the recent judical review, concerning recorded IP assets and content online, and the clear verdict of Judge Mr Justice Kenneth Parker has highlighted the needs for UK IP management and protection via the proposed DEA as being a fair way forward. All ISP account users are indeed fully responsible for their own access and security, as stated in all user contracts from the ISPs, so Judge Mr Justice Kenneth Parker’s verdict along with the Secretary of State’s would appear to be very much in line with that sensible approach. Having protection online will help creative and music SMEs flourish in the UK, with a manageable online presence.”