U.K. Retailers Hit Out At Digital Economy Act's Lack of Progress
U.K. Retailers Hit Out At Digital Economy Act's Lack of Progress

The British High Court has rejected an appeal from Internet service providers (ISPs) BT and TalkTalk, which challenged the legality of the U.K.'s Digital Economy Act (DEA).

BT and TalkTalk were granted a judicial review in November last year following claims that the anti-piracy legislation was "rushed through parliament" and that it infringed on web users "basic rights and freedoms." In what amounts to a major victory for the music industry, Justice Kenneth Parker has dismissed all but one of the ISPs five objections at a High Court ruling, held in London

The only point upheld by the High Court related to the draft Costs Order, which originally stated that ISPs would have to pay 25% of the administrative fees in establishing an appeals body. This clause will now be removed from the act and amended. The ISPs central claim that the DEA contravened EU Law was rejected outright by the court

"We are reviewing this long and complex judgement. Protecting our customers is our number one priority and we will consider our options once we have fully understood the implications for our customers and businesses," responded BT in a statement.

The ruling was, however, unanimously welcomed by the music and wider entertainment industry, with Geoff Taylor, chief executive at U.K. labels trade body BPI, saying that the judgment "gives the green light for action to tackle illegal downloading in the U.K."

"It confirms that the DEA is proportionate and consistent with European Law," Taylor went on to say in a statement. "Shareholders and customers of BT and TalkTalk might ask why so much time and money has been spent challenging an Act of Parliament to help reduce the illegal traffic on their networks. It is now time for BT and TalkTalk to work constructively with Government and with rightsholders to implement the Digital Economy Act," he continued

Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI, was also pleased with the verdict, which she noted was passed at the same time "as policymakers worldwide are increasingly tackling the problem of online piracy."

Moore cited the passing of recent legislation in New Zealand, as well as existing anti-piracy measures in France and South Korea, as three markets that had successfully taken a proactive stance in the fight against piracy

"We are optimistic of further positive legislative developments in other jurisdictions, including the European Union, which is currently reviewing its Enforcement Directive," Moore went on to say

Also commenting on the High Court verdict, John McVay, spokesperson for the Creative Industries Intervening Group, said in a statement

"We always believed that the Judicial Review was misconceived and today's decision again confirms that the Digital Economy Act is a legal, proportionate way to tackle the enormous damage caused by online copyright infringement."