UK Publishes Draft Code to Combat Online Piracy

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The mounting number of copyright cases and online piracy have forced many countries to enact new laws that will adequately address the problems and will impose stringent measures against the violators. The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been given the task of monitoring pirated content on the web. Past few months have seen courts issuing directions to block ISPs or issuing orders to remove copyright infringing material from the website.
Recently, Office of Communication, UK (Ofcom), a government approved regulatory authority for broadcasting, communication and postal industries in the UK has published draft code that will specifically lay down the manner in which ISPs should respond to a copyright infringement notification and monitor the same for a period of one year. Presently, the code is subject to public consultation till July 26th and a consultation on cost allocation until September 18th.The code imposes obligation on the part six major ISPs in the UK viz., BT, Everywhere, O2, Sky, TalkTalk Group and Virgin Media to send notification letters to subscribers. This will be done in response to copyright infringement reports. If a subscriber receives three or more notification letters in a year, it will entitle the copyright holders to get information as to the infringing content. Thereafter, the copyright owners may apply for a court order, directing ISPs to reveal the subscriber details. An action for copyright infringement may be initiated in civil courts against such subscribers and damages could also be claimed.

Subscribers may seek an appeal at the cost of $31, which will be reimbursed, if they are successful.

Protection of copyrights in the digital era has been a tiresome process, given the difficulty in identifying the infringers and the ease with which copyrighted contents may be downloaded and duplicated. This has indeed caused immense loss to the owners of copyright. Nevertheless, imposing stringent mechanism may in turn affect innocent internet users.

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