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ShareTime for the DEA to get its Act together

Things have been quiet on the Digital Economy Act (DEA) front for a long time now. Our last update (Opinion: Is the DEA old before its time?) indicated that the three strikes warning letters would not ‘go live’ until early 2014, a whole 4 years after the Act was passed. Now it would seem more delays could be afoot.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

The DEA was rushed through parliament at the end of Labour’s reign of power, receiving little discussion before becoming an Act – much to the dismay of ISPs and other parties across the country. It outlined a 12 month monitoring period of infringers, who would subsequently receive three warning letters before being ‘cut-off’.

Three years on from the Act being passed and it would appear the three strikes policy is no closer to being implemented, with a finger in the air guess being 2016 at the earliest. A never ending barrage of disputes over its practicalities and the sharing of costs between Rights Holders and ISPs has been its main delay.

In February 2013, HM Treasury withdrew the secondary legislation ‘Sharing of Costs Order’ which dictates how the controversial costs were to be shared. The current plan stipulates that ISPs would be ordered to pay 25% of costs, whilst Right Holders would pay the remaining. Something Entanet has strongly objected to since its announcement. However, according to James Firth’s blog, “the Treasury has raised concerns that the charges are in fact a levy – amounting to taxation – and therefore require Treasury approval, echoing concerns raised by the European Commission in 2011”. One option therefore is that the ISPs’ costs could be passed to Rights Holders to avoid the fees being classed as a levy. We’ll wait to see on that one.

It would also appear that if the scheme doesn’t pay for itself through the mentioned fees or levies then the taxpayer could be at risk of shelling out too.

We have to ask, is there any point to this Act? Surely enough time, resources and money has been wasted on getting this Act to a point where it can be fully used. Six years to get its ‘Act’ together?

There’s a mountain of reasons why this Act would never fully work, reasons which we’ve mentioned many times before. For one, the use of proxies and VPNs already exist to circumnavigate the DEA’s plans and avoid detection. There’s also the fact that pursuing potential infringers through the courts based on a single IP address is fundamentally flawed, especially with public WiFi hotspots and wireless networks that have been left unsecured.

We certainly appreciate the reasons behind why the entertainment industry wants to protect their material but is the DEA really the best way to go about it? In January 2013, the BBC reported that more than £1billion was spent legally downloading films, music and games, with digital sales increasing by 11.4% from 2011. The majority of sales still come through physical sales although this has been in steady decline for years, leaving entertainment companies desperate to tackle the threat of piracy. In truth though, the decline in physical sales is simply a result of the changing way we use media.

Entertainment companies need to reassess their business models and take advantage of the opportunities the Internet can actually bring. It’s clear to see from the digital sales growth that progress is being made but more needs to be done to encourage users to purchase more through legal channels, rather than spending time pursuing potential offenders.

Have your say!

What do you think about the DEA? Do you think the latest delay is the final nail in the coffin? Or do you think the DEA is an essential legislation that enables Rights Holders to protect their material? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment below.

Related Articles

Entanet Opinion: Is the DEA old before its time?

Entanet Opinion: Ofcom takes an axe to the DEA on website blocking

Entanet Opinion: Surely it’s time for change!

Entanet Opinion: Is the DEA a breach of our civil rights?

Entanet Opinion: The DEA – seems common sense isn’t common

Entanet Opinion: How much more can the DEA withstand?

Further Information

Slightly Right of Centre: No Digital Economy Act copyright warning letters until 2016 at the earliest

ISPReview: First Internet Piracy Warning Letters from UK ISPs Delayed Until Late 2015

BBC: Digital sales break £1bn barrier

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