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.