Warning Letters Under UK's Three Strikes Plan Unlikely To Be Sent Out Before 2016 -- If Ever

from the let-the-beast-die dept

Techdirt readers may recall that over three years ago, the UK's Digital Economy Act was passed in totally disgraceful circumstances. Since then, almost nothing has been heard about it, as British civil servants grapple with the fact that this poorly-drafted law is almost impossible to implement in any sensible way. If you were wondering what is going on behind the scenes, James Firth has put together a fascinating post piecing together the information that he was able to glean. The main point is that the UK's "three-strike" warning letters won't be going out for years:

Assuming a 2015 general election [in the UK], and factoring-in time to establish the necessary body or bodies to oversee the operation of the notification and appeals systems, it will be 2016 at the very earliest -- and possibly 2017 -- before the first warning letters go out.
In other words, it's likely to be six or seven years after the Digital Economy Act was passed that it starts to come into operation, if ever. What makes that particularly ridiculous, is that the pioneer of the three-strikes approach, France, is clearly backing away from it. For the UK to plough on with an outdated and discredited scheme regardless, is just farcical. But it gets worse:
Government advisers are aware that the creative industries are not currently on the point of extinction due to online copyright infringement, and are also aware of the concerns raised by ISPs and civil rights groups.
That is, the delay in implementing the law has meant that the claim that piracy would kill the UK copyright industries if left unchecked has been shown to be demonstrably false, removing what little justification there ever was for bringing in such disproportionate and vindictive legislation. Given that fact, and the evidence from France that three-strikes simply doesn't work, there is only one sensible option here: for the UK government to stop wasting the public's money and to repeal the entire misbegotten law immediately.

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  1. identicon
    DnB, 19 Jun 2013 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Had a think about it

    You make a very good point, Josef. This is certainly something to consider but I would also reverse this train of thought and ask you to think about how much is lost from the lack of copyright enforcement. For every year these letters are not sent, millions of dollars are lost for the content creators whose work we all enjoy and consume. A three strike policy makes complete sense to protect the rights of creative artists and creators of all kind. However, when there is nothing backing up the legislation, what is the point? This three strike policy is fair but copyright infringers must be notified of their internet misuse to warn them of the consequences under the law. I do not hope that misusers are put to jail or fined because most are just ignorant of the impact of their actions on creators. Rather, I would hope that upon notification from the government that they have broken a copyright law they may become aware of their actions and fearful of consequences so they stop stealing content online. Like I said before, this policy makes sense but it is useless if it is not enforced.

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