The UK government has revealed that a new code of practice setting out new anti-piracy measures and procedures is expected to be published in June. The suggestion came in the government’s response to the Film Policy Review Panel’s report – A Future For British Film: It begins with the audience…
The response, prepared by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said: “The government appreciates its role in providing legislative support to protect IP and will move ahead with the implementation of online copyright provisions in the Digital Economy Act as soon as possible.”
The Digital Economy Act (DEA) was pushed through Parliament in the period shortly before the 2010 General Election with critics suggesting that the laws had not been properly scrutinised.
Under the DEA, comms regulator Ofcom is required to publish a code of practice setting out the procedures Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must follow to combat illegal file sharing. Ofcom published a draft code in 2010, but finalised rules have still to be published.
The DCMS pointed out that the Judicial Review of the online infringement of copyright provisions had caused significant delay, and that although the Government won overwhelmingly in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, the point upon which it lost in both cases has meant that it had to re-set how the costs of the process would be apportioned. This in turn led to the Initial Obligations Code being delayed.
“However, we anticipate that the Code will be published in June 2012. We will also support efforts to improve the evidence base on intellectual property generally, as well as on copyright infringements” it said.
“The government works together with industry and enforcement agencies through the Intellectual Property Crime Group (of which the Alliance Against IP Theft, the Federation Against Copyright Theft and the British Video Association are members) to produce the annual Intellectual Property crime report. Further contributions from the film industry to the report are welcome. The UK’s IP Crime Strategy furthermore sets out that industry has a valuable role to play in providing evidence,” said the DCMS.
The Film Policy Review Panel reported that copyright infringement was contributing to declining industry revenues and that a “key element” to addressing the problem was in implementing the measures contained in the DEA.
Ofcom’s draft Code of Practice suggested that Internet users should receive three warning letters from their ISP if they were suspected of copyright infringement online.
The government has been chairing meetings between creative industry groups, ISPs and other stakeholders aimed at fostering voluntary frameworks for combating online piracy. The Panel recommended that government continued to facilitate the partnership work of content creators, ISPs and others to tackle websites which permit or promote copyright infringement.
“It is important that online infringement of copyright is tackled in a number of different ways in order to make websites dedicated to infringement more difficult to access and less profitable to operate,” said the DCMS. “That depends upon different parts of the economy working together to make the sites that are making money from illegally supplying material, with no compensation to creators or investors, less attractive both to visit and to run.”
The DCMS suggested that this would include working with online advertising bodies to reduce the risk of brands appearing on sites dedicated to infringement, and with search engines to see how they and rights holders could work together to tackle online infringement.
“One important initiative, where the music industry has taken the lead, is on cutting off the supply of funds from illegal sites by working with payment facilitators such as Visa, MasterCard and PayPal to remove their services from sites where there is clear evidence that they are intent upon infringement, and the evidence has been endorsed by the City of London Police. The film industry should also take up this opportunity,” DCMS suggested.