PA welcomes court ruling on Digital Economy Act

PA welcomes court ruling on Digital Economy Act

The Publishers Association has said it is "delighted" by the High Court ruling in favour of the government in a legal challenge against the Digital Economy Act.

BT and TalkTalk launched the legal challenge in November 2010, saying the act would "impact on the privacy and free expression rights" of UK internet users. Both said the act had been passed too quickly at the end of the last government, in April last year, giving the European Commission insufficient time to scrutinise it. The internet providers' challenge also focused on whether the act complies with existing EU data protection, privacy and e-commerce legislation.

In a ruling today (20th April) at the High Court, Mr Justice Kenneth Parker ruled in the government's favour, upholding the principle of taking measures to tackle illegal downloading of copyright material as set out in the act.

He also concluded internet service providers (ISPs) and rights holders should share the cost of the act's "mass notification system", which involves letters to warn the public about illegally downloading files. However, he found the ISPs should not contribute to Ofcom's costs of creating and enforcing it.

PA chief executive Richard Mollet said: "We are delighted that the government has successfully won the judicial review and that BT and TalkTalk have failed to derail the implementation of the Digital Economy Act."

He called the act "vital" to the success of UK creative industries in the digital age, and added: "Preventing online copyright infringement is a problem for large companies, SMEs, start-ups and ultimately the whole economy. Innovation and creativity can't be sustained if those creating content aren't rewarded for their work.

"We hope that this decision means that we can now work with ISPs and government to push the Digital Economy Act forward so that it can fully support our businesses and industries", he continued.

A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport welcomed the ruling and said it will set out the next steps for implementing the bill shortly.

In separate statements, BT and TalkTalk expressed their disappointment at the ruling, with the companies both saying they will now be "reviewing this long and complex judgement". TalkTalk said it was considering an appeal and attacked the bill as "ill judged".

Meanwhile, Ofcom is reviewing section 17 of the Digital Economy Act, which assesses whether the act's reserve powers to enable courts to block websites dedicated to copyright infringement could be put into practice.