I’ve just submitted our JANET response to the latest Ofcom consultation on the draft Code to implement the Digital Economy Act. The Code contains a lot of the detail that was missing from the original Act and has some significantly different proposals in areas that had been previously discussed in Parliament and elsewhere. In particular:
- It’s proposed that the Code will initially apply only to the ‘big 7’ fixed line domestic ISPs (those with more than 400K customers), until it is possible to determine which ISPs actually have a significant level of infringement, and
- The thresholds for different levels of seriousness of infringement now depend on whether a subscriber continues to infringe after receiving a warning, rather than the raw number of complaints received about them.
The second change makes the system fairer for domestic-style broadband, but worse for any other sort of “subscriber”. For example if a business or other organisation is classed as a “subscriber” then three different employees, each infringing once, could result in the business being regarded as the most serious type of infringer.
Unfortunately the draft Code has another unsuccessful attempt to make sense of the definitions in the Act: Ofcom now seem to suggest that a single organisation can at the same time be a subscriber and an ISP (and possibly a communications provider, though they seem reluctant to use that definition). Since copyright infringement notices for different categories have to be sent to different places, this seems certain to add confusion for rightsholders as well as for everyone else.
We also had a meeting yesterday with Ofcom where we were able to talk in detail about JANET and how the education sector currently handles copyright infringement by getting reports as quickly as possible to the organisation that actually knows who the user is. They seemed sympathetic to our view that this is already an effective approach and that completely changing the process would be bad for copyright enforcement and the purpose of the network.
[UPDATE: UCISA have also published their response to the consultation]
[UPDATE: the full list of consultation responses (170 of them!) is available from Ofcom]