UK drops plan to block file-sharing sites

UK business secretary Vince Cable says blocking piracy websites will not happen, and copyright laws will be brought to the "modern era".
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Cabinet minister and business secretary for the UK government, Vince Cable, announced in a speech this morning that plans to block copyright infringing websites are to be dropped.

In the speech at the British Library in London, copyright laws are to be updated "thoroughly" to catch up with modern society, including the relaxation of ripping CD music for personal use.

Blocking websites that encourage or provide links to copyright infringing content, such as movies, music or TV episodes, was one of the key elements to the Digital Economy Act.

Only last week, the Motion Picture Association won a court injunction requiring UK broadband and phone provider BT to block access to an infringing site, known as Newzbin2.

But as this court injunction was granted outside of the realms of the Digital Economy Act, many questioned whether the law was even needed in the first place.

The Digital Economy Act, brought out last year during the final days of the previous Labour government, was criticised for being rushed through without proper consultation. Less than 40 members of the lower house of parliament voted on the Act.

Many ISPs have declared their intentions to challenge the bill wherever possible. Some have even taken to the courts in an attempt to clarify vague elements of the anti-piracy legislation.

The London School of Economics earlier this year heavily criticised the Digital Economy Act, saying the law "gets the balance between copyright enforcement and innovation wrong".

The Act can also be used to cut off persistent pirates and illegal file sharers, with plans to send out warning letters by the second half of next year. Due to ongoing legal challenges, the cutting off of serial offenders may not begin until 2013.

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