The High Court has ruled that legislation under which alleged illegal downloaders may have their internet service cut is compliant with EU law.
The measures, which form part of the Digital Economy Act, will allow for the punishment of internet users believed to have downloaded material illegally in order to stem alleged revenue losses incurred by copyright holders in industries such as film, music and software.
Internet service providers (ISPs) BT and TalkTalk had appealed against the legislation, arguing that the measures would unlawfully curb people's internet freedom and privacy.
However, the judge decided otherwise. "From the point of view of copyright owner and subscriber, the Digital Economy Act represents a more efficient, focused and fair system than the current arrangements,” said judge Kenneth Parker in his ruling.
While the judge rejected the main challenge by the ISPs, he did agree with the argument regarding the cost ISPs are to share with rights holders in implementing the mass notification system that will be necessary for the Act to work.
The judge argued that ISPs should bear some of the burden of operating the system and the appeals process, but should not be made to pay Ofcom’s costs for setting up, monitoring and enforcing the system. The government will now have to review the draft Costs Order.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that it was pleased with the court’s decision.
“The government remains committed to tackling online piracy and will set out the next steps for implementation of the Digital Economy Act shortly,” said a spokesperson.
John McVay, chief executive of the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television, and a spokesman for the Creative Industries Intervening Group, said: "We always believed that the judicial review was misconceived, and today’s decision again confirms that the Digital Economy Act is a legal, proportionate way to tackle the enormous damage caused by online copyright infringement.
“Rather than needlessly spending more time and money on further legal challenges, BT and TalkTalk now need to focus on working with rights holders and the government in implementing the Act with immediate effect."
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