UK's anti-piracy law delayed: 'Three-strike' warnings on hold

Provisions in the UK's anti-piracy law to cut off repeat copyright infringers and file-sharers from the Web have been delayed again, this time until 2014.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Provisions and measures under the UK's Digital Economy Act have been delayed --- again.

Plans to send warning letters to those who are caught infringing copyright by file-sharing have been put on ice until 2014, the government department responsible for the law confirmed.

The law would set up a system where a "graduated response" --- or three-strike letters --- would be sent out incrementally to persistent file-sharers in a bid to prevent them from infringing more, and ultimately having their rights to Internet access revoked.

Broadband cut-off is one of the 'technical measures' mentioned in the law, but is only seen as a last resort to extreme offenders.

Ofcom, the communications regulator, had previously said it would start sending out notification letters to file-sharers in mid-2013. But legal challenges and bids from broadband providers to clarify the law have delayed the enacting of the controversial anti-piracy act.

It was passed during the 'wash-up' or 'guillotine' period towards the end of the last Labour government in 2010. The bill was controversial enough to deter most members of Parliament (MPs), and in the end, less 10 percent of all UK's representatives voted on the bill.

Broadband providers BT and TalkTalk through joint legal proceedings pushed back the issuing of the warning letters, which were due to be issued from 2011 onwards. They had argued the law was in breach of European law, but were unsuccessful in their challenges.

The UK government also faced added criticism after questions were raised in a Parliamentary committee pertaining to the evidence for the bill. One civil servant responsible for implementing the draft laws said there was 'no evidence' to support the new anti-piracy law.

With 2015 being an election year, the law will no doubt be a contentious topic. With the Labour government drafting and implementing the law, and the now Conservative-led coalition government pushing through its measures, it will be a hot topic for the politicians on the soapboxes.


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