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Ofcom Reveals New ISP Rules Following the Digital Economy Act

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What will the {insert: adjective here} Digital Economy Act mean for ISPs? You're about to find out...

Independent telecommunications regulator Ofcom has this afternoon announced its "Draft code of practice" which is designed to step in line with contentious the new law. Key points:

  • All proposals will only apply to fixed line ISPs with over 400,000 subscribers (BT, Talk Talk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange, O2 and the Post Office - Post Office?!)
  • ISPs must record the number of notifications sent to their subscribers and maintain an anonymised list of alleged serial copyright infringers
  • Copyright holders can request information on this list and pursue a court order to identify serial infringers and take legal action against them
  • Ofcom is proposing a three stage notification process for ISPs to inform subscribers of copyright infringements
  • Subscribers which have received three notifications within a year may be included in a list requested by a copyright owner
  • Ofcom will establish an independent appeals mechanism for consumers who believe they have received incorrect notifications. This will look at sharing the costs of a consumer appeal
Unknowns and loop holes:
  • Mobile networks are currently exempt as are all smaller ISPs
  • No clarification on whether convicted offenders will have their broadband disconnected
  • No clarification on how this will affect commercial WiFi or schemes such as
  • WiFi London
  • No clarification whether notifications will refer to a single offence (eg, one song) or whether it will refer to a period of monitored copyright infringement
So yes it's all a bit of a mish-mash which leaves open as much as it answers. Ofcom's consultation period on the draft will end on 30 July so let's hope we get more then before the proposals go into force in early January 2011.

Meanwhile we keep our fingers crossed this tighter regulation will encourage copyright holders to now come up with better, fairer, more wide-ranging distribution methods for their content (particularly video content from other countries) and not just sit back creaming off the profits...

Link: Ofcom ISPs draft code of practice

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