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UK three-strikes delayed until at least 2015

By | Published on Monday 10 June 2013


The Department Of Culture, Media & Sport has admitted that the first element of the three-strikes style system for combating illegal file-sharing set out in the 2010 Digital Economy Act will not know begin until at least 2015.

There have been countless delays in launching the ‘graduated response’ system outlined in the DEA, partly because net firms TalkTalk and BT took the legislation to judicial review (without success), but mainly because of disagreements between stakeholders and within the political community as to how the anti-piracy programme should be funded.

The first stage of the system is internet service providers being forced to send warning letters to consumers suspected by rights owners of accessing illegal content sources. There was originally talk of that happening as soon as 2011, but launch dates were repeatedly put back. Last year a DMCS rep admitted no letters would now be sent before 2014, and last week a spokesman told the BBC that 2015 was now the earliest any letter-sending would begin.

As previously reported, digital policy blogger James Firth recently predicted that the government would wait until after the next General Election before putting the copyright elements of the DEA into action. His sources in Westminster said that would likely mean no letter-sending until 2016, or maybe even 2017.

Squabbling between the DMCS and the Treasury over the nature of three-strikes has played its part in the most recent delays, some insiders say. There has been speculation of late that the very future of the DMCS is now in doubt, with some in Westminster and Whitehall plotting to have the culture department shut down, and its various remits redistributed to other departments of government. It’s not clear what that would mean for three-strikes.

The content industries which lobbied hard to have three-strikes included in the DEA continue to call for it to be implemented asap, though in the meantime the music and movie industries have put more effort into web-blocking, the anti-piracy measure rejected by parliament when drafting its digital content legislation, but which – as it turned out – was possible under existing copyright law.