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Wednesday, 27 June 2012 09:40

Ofcom backs Big Content

Written by Nick Farrell

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ISPs have to grass up their customers

New plans being drawn up by Ofcom will mean that ISPs will have to grass up their customers to copyright owners.

The draft code, which is still subject to a consultation period, European approval and the governmental green light, according to the Hollywood Reporter, means that ISPs have to tell their customers of allegations that their internet connection has been used to infringe copyright.

After three such letters in a year, those deemed to be still infringing copyright will have details sent to copyright owners, who will then be able to seek a court order to obtain information about the user’s identity. Ofcom’s Claudio Pollack said that the measures will foster investment and innovation in the UK’s creative industries. We guess he means that Big Content will not have to change its business models and everything will stay the same.

The new rules will initially affect the country’s biggest ISPs – BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Sky, Everything Everywhere and O2. Although Ofcom has wanted to do it for ages the scheme has been repeatedly delayed by block attempts by BT and TalkTalk. When the two ISPs lost their legal appeal against the Digital Economy Act the way was open for Oftel to bring in its cunning plan.

The court ruling does mean that there will have to be some changes. But two companies were successful in persuading judges that the ISPs should not have to foot the bill of enforcing the rules. Ofcom agreed that the rights holders will shoulder most of the costs. However, the price structure implies the more infringement reports the content owners send to the ISPs, the cheaper it will be per complaint.

Anyone who wants to appeal allegations that they have illegally downloaded content will have to fork out £20, which will be refunded if successful. Ofcom said it expects the policy to take effect in early 2014.

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Nick Farrell

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