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Parliamentary Enquiry into the Protection of Intellectual Property On-line

Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is carrying out an enquiry into the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights Online and, in particular, the effectiveness and proportionality of the Digital Economy Act 2010. Since the Act isn’t yet in operation – we are still awaiting the publication of the Implementation Code by Ofcom – it’s rather hard to comment on effectiveness. However I’ve submitted a JANET response that re-states our concerns about the likely consequences of the Act and the continuing uncertainty over its definitions.

I’ve again pointed out that a wide interpretation of “subscriber”, which appears to be favoured by Ofcom, could damage universities’ and colleges’ current effective processes for reducing infringement, as well as reducing the availability of Internet access in places such as cafes and libraries. The Committee specifically ask about the possible imposition of technical measures against infringement, so I have pointed out the disproportionate effect of these on others who share the connection used for the alleged infringement, and the likelihood that these powers will create an incentive for the widespread use of technologies to evade monitoring and blocking, thus exposing users to considerably greater hazards than copyright infringement.

The Committee was originally scheduled to take evidence in January, but this has been postponed to await the outcome of the Judicial Review of the legality of the Act.

[UPDATE (17th March): the evidence gathering has now been further postponed till 6th May, even though the Judicial Review hearings are scheduled for next week 22nd-24th March]

By Andrew Cormack

I'm Chief Regulatory Advisor at Jisc, responsible for keeping an eye out for places where our ideas, services and products might raise regulatory issues. My aim is to fix either the product or service, or the regulation, before there's a painful bump!

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