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UK court clears Government to send warnings to illegal filesharers

The UK government has been given the green light to the implement of a French HADOPI-style measure contained in the Digital Economy Act after the final legal challenge by BT and Talk Talk was thrown out at the Court of Appeal.

The two Internet service providers (ISPs) had complained that the legislation was incompatible with European law and put an unfair burden on them to pay the costs of the rights-holders' crackdown on illicit downloading.

While the appeal judges ruled that the government could not make ISPs pay a proportion of the case fees attached to the act, it authorised the sending out of warning letters to UK internet users accused of illegal filesharing, a procedure first implemented by France's anti-piracy procedures under the so-called HADOPI legislation.

The court of appeal ruling found that the Digital Economy Act (DEA) is legal and compatible with European law. However, the government had already announced that the more controversial website blocking measures in the act would not be introduced.

For organisations representing rights holders, this Court of Appeal ruling is viewed as a significant victory in the fight against unlawful online file sharing.

"The British Video Association is delighted that the government can now press on with implementation of notice-sending under the 2010 Digital Economy Act," says Lavinia Carey, Director General of the BVA. "The video industry generates the single largest source of returns on investment for film producers and takes the greatest hit in terms of damage inflicted by illicit file-sharing of video content. The DEA offers a fair, proportionate and entirely reasonable way to help promote a change in behaviour to support our industry's public awareness campaigns which are designed to signpost the many legal options for accessing video entertainment."

Story filed 06.03.12

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