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Three-strikes will cost £6 million, and is subject to EDM

By | Published on Monday 20 June 2011


The three-strikes system put in place by the Digital Economy Act to combat illegal file-sharing will cost nearly £6 million to launch, according to figures released by media regulator OfCom under the Freedom Of Information Act last week.

OfCom is overseeing most of the set up of the DEA’s anti-piracy system, and says that it has so far spent £1.8 million and expects to pay out a further £4 million to get things up and running over the next year. Quite how setting up a letter sending system and appeals process can cost that much is anyone’s guess, even with the obligation to consult and placate a plethora of stakeholders, but such is the way with government programmes. Not that the government is paying for this, the idea is that OfCom recoup their investment from content owners and internet service providers once the system is up and running (the former taking a bigger hit than the latter).

The big content owners from the music, TV and film industries which lobbied for three-strikes would probably argue that in the wider scheme of things a £6 million investment to secure the future of the wider creative industries is a price worth paying. Which is probably true. Assuming three-strikes will work, which it probably won’t. And that the content industries won’t eventually learn to live with file-sharing, finding new ways to monetise their copyrights, which they probably will.

Still, given that the big content owners will end up covering much of this investment – assuming three-strikes ever really gets off the ground – does it really matter? No doubt those who oppose three-strikes, especially the ISPs who have to contribute to the costs too, would say it does.

Though when OfCom responded to the FOI submission for details on the costs of three-strikes last week, most of those who oppose the copyright section of the DEA were distracted by an Early Day Motion submitted in parliament, which noted that recent United Nations report that said any anti-piracy system that could result in internet disconnections is disproportionate.

The EDM, submitted by Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert, welcomes the UN report and calls on relevant parliamentary select committees and the Department For Culture, Media & Sport, to reassess the copyright section of the DEA in the context of the UN report’s recommendations. The UK Pirate Party welcomed the EDM and called on its supporters to lobby their MPs to sign it, though so far only 12 MPs have put their names to the motion.

As previously reported, ISPs BT and TalkTalk are also trying to force a review of the DEA’s copyright provisions via the courts, appealing a previous judicial review ruling that rejected the net firms’ objections to the Act. OfCom’s costs statement last week also revealed that the two net firms were being told to pay the majority of the government’s costs in relation to that original judicial review on this issue.