Ofcom publishes draft code for internet piracy

At the end of last week the regulator Ofcom published a draft of the code to be followed for taking action against online copyright infringement following the passage of the Digital Economy Act.

As Rory Cellan-Jones points out, some aspects of the draft code deal with concerns raised during the passage of the Act. In particular, the code only applies to ISPs with over 400,000 customers, thereby excluding operators of Wi-Fi networks such as cafes and universities who had been worried they would be forced to incur significant costs tightly policing their networks.

The code also confirms one of the concessions won by the Liberal Democrats in Parliament, namely that the power to cut off people’s internet connections will be held in reserve and not initially used. Instead, the code lays out a process of three warning letters followed by legal action by a copyright holder if they believe someone has been breaking their copyright, such as by downloading music files. The end result of the process would be prosecution of the person, but not the cutting off of their internet connection.

However, the Open Rights Group has been very critical of the proposed process, saying

There are huge unanswered questions, not least whether innocent people will have to pay to appeal. Government needs to draw a clear line between the notifications and potential disconnection regimes. Otherwise, Ofcom can’t tell people what these accusations mean, which is absurd.

You can read the draft code and find out how to respond (by 30 July) here.

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7 Comments

  • Chris Mills 2nd Jun '10 - 12:51pm

    The act is still unfair.

    What is required is for copyright reform to happen in this country. It’s ridiculous that you are considered to have infringed copyright for ripping a CD you purchased onto your computer. This should have been dealt with when someone at the BPI finally worked out that home taping didn’t kill music!

    Our copyright laws are unfair and illiberal.

  • In my humble opinion the whole act should be thrown out, it is ill thought-out and just simply wouldn’t work in the real world.
    The people who are downloading copyright material are technically savvy enough to get Around any attempts to identify them via proxies and VNPs
    There is also a major problem with the innocent law abiding being accused, it can take just seconds to break (crack) a WEP connection and the WPA(2) connections are, although better, still have their flaws, just imagine someone sitting outside YOUR door and stealing YOUR bandwidth, downloading gods-knows -what all in YOUR name (IP address) I won’t even mention the non-secured connections that everyone has seen, there is one in my area at the moment, some poor pensioner no doubt who has little or no idea how that shiny box in the corner of the room connects to the outside world but as far as the ISP is concerned she’s downloading porn or the latest number 1 album … jeeze make me shudder just thinking about it

  • Oh and another thing worth thinking on, No doubt in the not to distant future most if not all government services (benefits, tax etc.) will be accessed online only that being so I’m extremely concerned that a multinational organisation would effectively be able to deny or at least threaten to deny these services to British citizens just because they believe they have lost a couple of quid

  • This whole act makes me laugh… Noble idea, some one will get a pay rise for it probably.

    The big boys have already started using hashing algorithms in there copyrighted material. They also use VPN’s. They have absolutely no chance of catching proving anything with these people other than the fact they have high usage. The only people this will harm is the innocent and the minor offenders.

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