BT and Talk Talk lose file-sharing appeal

BT logo BT and Talk Talk say the Digital Economy Act risks infringing user privacy

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BT and Talk Talk have lost an appeal over controversial measures to tackle copyright infringement online.

The internet service providers (ISPs) had argued the UK's Digital Economy Act was incompatible with EU law.

The Act will mean ISPs will have to send warning letters to alleged illegal file downloaders, as well as potentially cutting users off.

The creative industry argues that piracy costs £400m a year in lost revenue.

The firms' lawyers said the stricter measures could result in an invasion of privacy and run up disproportionate costs for both ISPs and consumers.

In a statement, Talk Talk said it was now "considering our options".

"We're disappointed that our appeal was unsuccessful though we welcome the additional legal clarity that has been provided for all parties," the company said.

"Though we have lost this appeal, we will continue fighting to defend our customers' rights against this ill-judged legislation."

A spokesman for BT said: "We have been seeking clarification from the courts that the DEA is consistent with European law, and legally robust in the UK, so that everyone can be confident in how it is implemented.

"Now that the court has made its decision, we will look at the judgment carefully to understand its implications and consider our next steps."

Start Quote

It wouldn't be surprising to see a lot more public outcry”

End Quote Adam Rendle Copyright lawyer
'Stop fighting'

The decision was welcomed by copyright advocates.

Christine Payne, general secretary of the Actors' union Equity, called on the ISPs to "stop fighting and start obeying the law".

"Once again the court is on the side of the almost two million workers in the creative industries whose livelihoods are put at risk because creative content is stolen on a daily basis," she said.

However Loz Kaye, the leader of the UK Pirate Party, argued there was no proof the measures outlined in the Act - such as cutting off users - aided the fight against illegal file-sharing.

"This decision brings the draconian Digital Economy Act another step closer," he said.

"The coalition government must be clear now once and for all on whether it supports this anti-internet piece of legislation.

"No-one has proved that the Act will help the creative industries financially, that is just lobbyists' spin.

"A recent study on a similar system in France suggests that there is no benefit for music sales. Threats to chuck entire households off the web will be bad for the economy, bad for society - and for us as a creative nation too."

'Proper scrutiny'

Adam Rendle, a copyright specialist at international law firm Taylor Wessing, said he expected BT and Talk Talk to now appeal to the UK's Supreme Court.

He added that it was also likely the companies would step up lobbying efforts, perhaps harnessing support from groups recently protesting against the US Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the EU's proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta).

"We know how keen internet users are to protect what they see as freedom of speech," Mr Rendle told the BBC.

"When the Digital Economy Act itself was passed in the dying stages of the Labour government, there was a huge amount of disquiet that this kind of important legislation was being introduced without proper scrutiny.

"That kind of disquiet didn't result in the kind of action we've seen against Acta and Sopa. It wouldn't be surprising to see a lot more public outcry than there was when the Act was first passed."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Protecting corporate greed. The "losers" from "piracy" are not so much the artists as the corporations which rip off both the artist and the public.

    The government lackey's are so deeply in with the corporations, that they care nothing for the public.

    I have downloaded a lot of music, most of which I discarded because I thought it was rubbish. That which I liked, I bought the CD or LP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    54. socratesfoot ofc you wouldn't actually use TOR for downloading since they will ban you for it (for various reasons they don't wanna use their computers for your downloading). You use a VPN service for stuff like that

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    VPN companies are going to do very well out of this - buy shares now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Copyright breach is a civil matter not a criminal one.
    Essentially what's happened here is that the media companies have lobbied hard to get others to do their enforcement for them.
    The punishment or terminating a broadband connection is over the top and very general. Criminal punishments are very specific, but civil matters don't have to comply to the same standard. This ruling is a mess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Another 10p worth. The Music Industry is basically saying this: if you insist on playing piano rolls, we'll come and take your piano away.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    It will be a complex job when media companies including the BBC are adopting P2P technologies to distribute their own content. Although this law is to be used as a quick way of telling ISP's to 'block' websites they deem illegal (even if they aren't) people will simply use VPN technology to 'unblock' these websites.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Isn't it odd that a small group of old men, who mostly don't even use the internet, somehow get to regulate it for the rest of us?

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    How can anyone justify an £18 price for a dvd film release? The material cost is about 50p. Bring down the price and many won't bother seeking out an often inferior product from the web. £5 would be a no brainer and if 100,000 people world wide bought at that price then all films would make a healthy profit. You only have to look at petrol where people are using their cars less as prices go up

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Does the Music/TV/Film industry not realise that the reason people download their content is that the prices are sky high.

    I refuse to pay £18.99 for a film, that might be terrible. Would i be able to claim my money back? No..Therefore, i will download a film, and if i like it, i will buy a hardcopy.

    Stop charging so much for music and films then maybe people will actually buy them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I'll simply remove the security on my wireless router allowing anyone to use it (unintentianally of course), then i'll take BT or whome ever to court to prove its me doing the downloading and not some dodgy student type living next door...

    Or simply pop over to my local burger joint and donload on thier 'free' network :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    @35 Francis power

    It's the industry that isn't growing up. It's using the same business model as back in the 60's. The music industry needs to evolve.

    Look at the gaming industry for example, everyone thought piracy would be the end for them, but then out of nowhere STEAM popped up & saved the day! Good riddance to GAME who will be going this year due to THEIR outdated business model.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    If you want privacy online then you need to do is invest in a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to encrypt your web traffic.

    VyprVPN is the most premium of VPN services. Your ISP will know how much your downloading but they won't know what it is you're downloading or where you're downloading from.

    Governments will one day learn they can't effectively police the internet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Rights holders have always had the right to sue an allegded infringer. The fact they moved the goal posts via DEA to guilt by allegation shows how ittle confidence they have in flawe IP evidence. I would much rather have my day in court confident Im protected by caselaw than facing a MAFIAA imposed witchfinder general where there is a presumption of guilt based on mere allegation

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Not before time!! I can't stand any type of piracy, it is stealing, end of story. I wouldn't watch or listen to any music or film I've neither paid for or rented! It drives me nuts that people continually think they can just 'help themselves' to whatever they please, just because it's available on the internet. It's about time, morals and standards were dragged to an acceptable level!

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Who needs peer 2 peer anyway? That's quite an old fashioned way of ripping.

    Many browsers have the built in capability of ripping from source. eg; as the show/music/movie plays.

    Giants like youtube even give you the software to rip from it's servers.

    Open source/GNU browsers will keep the data flowing, whether "they" like it or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Another step closer to double think and the the thought police. We'll be policing ourselves before you know it.

    Wake up and act people!

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Piracy will ALWAYS be there. Nothing anyone can do about it.

    With a positive there are always going to be negatives. Why do they care so much about the music industry anyway? None of the music today are of any No.1 material.

    There are more important matters in this world we live in!

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Anyone else just thinking there is no system like this for say pedophiles, cyber criminals or hackers? Oh no no a court and judge must rule there internet ban. But of course we have to change that for the worst of the worst file sharers someone sharing the latest episode of the Simpsons with you mate we cant leave that crime unpunished.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Um, making it illegal will definetly get me out of the house and all the way to the local pub, where I will buy my illegal DVD from a strange man in a trench coat for a fiver. I wonder what he spends the money on.


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