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New anti-piracy measures delayed until 2014

BPI urges the Government to “take decisive action” as the UK’s Digital Economy Act suffers yet another setback, writes David Davies.

The passage into law of the anti-piracy Digital Economy Act (the DEA) in early 2010 constituted one of the final significant achievements of the last UK Government.

But in the latest twist for this enduringly controversial piece of legislation, it has been revealed that measures requiring the distribution of letters to suspected illegal downloaders will not be enforced until 2014 at the earliest – in other words, shortly before the current Parliament is due to conclude.

The legislation surmounted a major obstacle in March when leading ISPs BT and TalkTalk lost their two-year bid to have the Act overturned on the grounds of alleged incompatibility with European law. Nonetheless, the practicalities of implementing the Act – which calls for the distribution of warning letters to suspected copyright infringers and the threat of disconnection – remain the subject of fine-tuning.

Whilst news of the latest delay was broadly welcomed by the ISP community, leading creative and cultural industry organisations professed frustration at a further delay to legislation designed to protect revenue streams which are under ever-increasing pressure from illegal downloading and file-sharing activity.

Emphasising the importance of the UK music sector at home and abroad, a BPI spokesperson told PSNEurope: “Britain’s record industry is a creative success story, and boasts a successfully growing digital business. Whether we continue to grow and become an exporting industry that creates jobs depends on the decisions the Government takes. It has been two years now since the Digital Economy Act was passed, and we have still not had the Code published. It is time for the Government to take decisive action.”

Music Producers Guild chairman Steve Levine (pictured) admitted that introduction of the DEA was necessarily time-consuming. “Obviously we are very disappointed that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) isn’t able to act faster with regard to sending out the first letters, but we accept that there is a procedure to be followed,” he said. “As part of UK Music, the Music Producers Guild is working behind the scenes on a number of other issues relating to this Act, which may ultimately help to speed things up.”