The Digital Economy Act is the fruit of the UK government’s attempt to fight online piracy. Amongst its provisions, sending warning letters to those who are suspected of copyright infringement is mentioned. Strangely enough, a vital document specifying who’s to pay for all the troubles has been pulled out, possibly leading to a delay of the DEA.
The document in question was titled “Sharing of Costs Order” and, apparently, it has been pulled out from the DEA. The government’s plan was to kick-start the anti-piracy measures included in the DEA in March next year. These measures consist in sending warning letters and even account blocking for repeat offenders. However, that last bid may not even be considered; not only internet accounts being blocked had been harshly criticized, but rights holders, to the surprise of some, came with a counterproposal – to drop this unorthodox measure and opt for a fine (read more here).
“We need to make technical changes to the cost-sharing statutory instrument,” the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said.
“These changes will not impact on the overall effect of the legislation. We will re-introduce the statutory instrument as soon as possible.”
The reason for this decision has been explained by digital rights campaigners, who said that the document was pulled out due to concerns expressed by UK’s Treasury – the costs for managing and applying DEA’s anti-piracy measures are not consistent with the Treasury’s “Managing Public Money” guidelines.
As a result, the document, which was originally drafted by the DMCS and Ofcom, is now going to be revised. After that, it’s the Parliament’s decision whether to vote positive or negative on it.
“It’s going to take time – it has to go through the parliamentary process and then through the EU,” Peter Bradwell of the Open Rights Group said.
“In the grand scheme of things, it makes it look like the target for sending out letters in 2014 is possibly no longer realistic.”
Mr. Bradwell also expressed his opinion regarding the Treasury’s concerns over how public money is being used.
“Ofcom is spending hefty amounts of public money, which ultimately would be paid back by copyright owners participating in the scheme,” he said.
“The government maintains the issue now is technical compliance with the guidelines. The exact reasons are not clear. But the fact that Ofcom is stumping up many millions of pounds with apparently no clear commitment from copyright owners about who will pay it back, and when, could be part of the problem.”
It’s yet unclear how much time it will take for the DEA to kick in, but, as it happened with other controversial legislations in the past, we can expect some drastic changes.
Stay tuned to find out more!