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 88.

    Can people learn the difference between theft and coping before they come on here calling people thieves. Theft or stealing from someone is when you take someone else s property and that person not longer has it. Copying is when that person lets you copy and you both end up with similar or the same property. See the difference there?

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    @59.Dr Feelgood
    "Or simply pop over to my local burger joint and donload on thier 'free' network :)"
    They can track you by MAC address (unique identifier of your network card)

    This relates to the ISP for the network being used, not my PC. and changing your MAC address is simple...

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Healing plaster on a bullet wound. The music industry will not gain one penny from this legislation, and will almost certainly lose revenue from the majority of downloaders who also make up the majority of sales. They're going to cut their noses off to spite their faces because they're too stubborn and too inward to accept that the money lies elsewhere.

    Bring on the protests.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    People have had a free ride for long enough. I work in the software industry as a programmer, for too long people have been of a mindset where they just take something for nothing in return?

    Sure, I could have turned to DRM, or otherwise inconvenienced paying clients, but that doesn't work, now people like me will have the law backing us up when it comes to theft of our work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    The real piracy is by the media companies who overcharge for the products. They'll not gain from me however; I'll just refrain from buying their products, there are always alternatives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    If items such as music and films were cheaper to start with then there would be no piracy. Lets look at a family trip to the cinema; this costs approx £25 by the time you factor in the drinks and sweets etc. Staying at homes with a pirated dvd costs a family nect to nothing. If cinemas for instance charged a £1 a time then they would fill the cinema and thus prevent piracy!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    And they wonderwhy support/participation in the activities of ANONYMOUS is growing

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Copyright infringement has blossomed on the Internet, many authors often unaware that their rights have been stolen, Also, cowboy companies seem quite unaware of their own illegalities, thinking that somehow the Internet is a total free for all and not subject to the law. They are quite wrong. The law needs to be properly policed and enforced, the culprits caught..

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Forcing ISPs to cut off the file-sharing community yet those same ISPs allow Google at al to thieve everyone's personal information - even innocent people.
    Double standards or what!

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    There’s not one shred of evidence the creative industry loses £400m a year from piracy. There are numerous confounding factors that effect the fluctuation of media sales, of which piracy is just one.

    This is just the bull they vomit out to the legislators, to justify what amounts to me paying an ISP tax and giving up my right to privacy in my own home.

    To protest I shall be using VPN.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    1 Minute Ago
    It will all turn full circle where people will turn their backs on the internet altogether, I am getting close to that now.
    Or on the 'creative industries'. I've cut down on the music I buy and don't go to the cinema anymore because of things like this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    A classic case of closing the stable doors after the horse has bolted.Rather than imposing a law that can't possibly work why don't those content makers make their work available at a reasonable price to start with?Charging £15 plus for a CD or more for film will do little to discourage piracy.Its not like the big comps such as Sony etc are loss making,they just pay to much to the so called stars

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    All that will happen if the laws are passed & ISP's are ask to regulate the data, is the puplic will find another way for the data to be downloaded. Then we go round the same old circle......

    Love the analogy of the Royal Mail having to regulate the contents of letters sent in the post, sums it up just right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    I once PURCHASED a DVD "Deep Purple in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall". I had already purchased the album and the cd. When playing the DVD I thought part of the track had jumped, no, it had been cut by nearly three minutes (third movement). I complaied but was told that it was an accepted thing. Is this not theft!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Stupid Act, passed by Stupid UK Courts/Judges that do not understand that they are ruining our internet freedoms to "try" and protect an out dated copyright model.

    This act will change nothing for those copyright morons - sales will not increase until they actually offer products in format types and quality that people want, combined with ease of use and value for money!

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    The problem here is the word "alleged".

    People will be receiving letters or even being cut off simply on the basis of an accusation. Use of an IP address proves absolutely nothing.

    WEP and WPA wireless encryption can now be hacked with most new laptops, and if someones computer is compromised their connection could be hijacked without their knowledge.

    It's ridiculous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    A case of Big Brother UK Government AGAIN controlling the way we live our lives and our freedom. This idiotic law is not going to change anything, people will just use unprotected Networks or free Wifi at restaurants etc. We are not stupid Mr Cameron and Co, this is just another excuse to allow snooping on our privacy. We hardly have freedom and democracy anymore here in the UK!

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    The music industry is stupid if they think that stopping people hearing their product will boost revenues.

    As for over-priced movies that you only watch once, I'm happy to wait until they are shown on TV.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Good to hear this.

    The sooner this organised theft of other people's livelyhoods is tackled the better.

    It really needs criminal sanctions so that proper action can be taken against the dross who are already discussing how they will get round this law and continue their theft.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    @59.Dr Feelgood
    "Or simply pop over to my local burger joint and donload on thier 'free' network :)"

    They can track you by MAC address (unique identifier of your network card)


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