Industry experts have criticised the government's latest revision to the controversial clause 18 section of the Digital Economy Bill, which was announced yesterday in an attempt to ease its passage through the Commons before the general election.
Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw tabled the amendments to the clause (PDF), which refer specifically to forcing internet service providers (ISPs) to block certain web sites accused of infringing copyright, rather than individuals.
The amendment still allows the government to demand that ISPs block web sites, but would require more evidence from either the secretary of state or copyright holders to prove that a site was offering copyrighted material illegally.
Under the new amendment, the government would have to prove that the downloading of material was having a "serious adverse effect on businesses or consumers" and "whether the injunction would be likely to have a disproportionate effect on any person's legitimate interests".
The amendment would make it unlikely that large sites such as YouTube would be blocked as this would have an effect on the legitimate interests of other users.
Furthermore, the government would have to prove that a site was "a location from which a substantial amount of material has been, is being or is likely to be obtained in infringement of copyright" to achieve an injunction.
In further concessions, the amendment states that the regulations to allow copyright owners to apply for a court injunction would be laid before parliament in a 60-day period of consultation during which the evidence would be considered in both houses of parliament.
A draft of these regulations would also need to be presented to the European Commission under the Technical Standards Directive three months before they are due to come into force.
Additionally, the government said that ISPs would not face any court costs associated with the processing of injunctions against certain sites filed by copyright holders.
The department for Business Innovation and Skills said in a blog posting that the replacement clause "ultimately achieves the same effect, while addressing the concerns expressed regarding the current clause".
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