Business News Legal Top Stories

Government still aiming for spring 2012 for DEA strike one

By | Published on Wednesday 6 April 2011

Houses Of Parliament

Despite the copyright section of the Digital Economy Act being subject to a judicial review, the government say they are still on schedule to launch the three-strikes anti-piracy system the controversial legislation introduces next year, meaning warning letters could start to go out to suspected illegal file-sharers in early 2012.

As previously reported, both BT and Talk Talk are trying to get the copyright provisions in last year’s DEA overturned in court on the basis that they conflict with European laws, and that parliament did not give the measures sufficient scrutiny before passing the Act.

The legal action has substantially delayed the instigation of a three-strikes system (or variation thereof), that will see suspected file-sharers sent letters telling them they, or someone using their IP address, is infringing copyrights, and warning them that their net connection may be squeezed or suspended if that continues. The DEA forces ISPs to send out said letters, and puts in place a basic framework for introducing punitive measures for those who ignore them.

Since the Act was passed last year OfCom have been reviewing exactly how this ‘graduated response’ system will work, though the judicial review has delayed that process somewhat. It was originally hoped a procedure would have been in place by late 2010 with the first letters going out around about now, but it seems likely the whole thing will be pushed back by up to a year. Nevertheless, the government insists progress is still being made, and says that October has been set as the final deadline for OfCom’s code to be ready, with hopes to begin sending letters next spring.

A spokesman for the government’s Department For Culture, Media And Sport told reporters yesterday: “[October] is the deadline [but] we would hope the code can be made before then and are still aiming to have the first notification letters go out in the first half of next year. Our principal concern is to establish a system that works and provides the UK’s creative industries with the tools they need to protect their hard work and investment. We understand the urgency, but will not rush this important task”.

Of course this all assumes the judicial review doesn’t force the entire three-strikes system put in place by the DEA back to the drawing board.