ISPs lose appeal against cutting off file-sharers

Anti-piracy legislation moves closer to coming into force as creative industries claim victory

Stewart Mitchell
6 Mar 2012

TalkTalk and BT have lost their appeal over anti-piracy measures in the Digital Economy Act.

The ISPs had argued that the potential to cut off repeat downloaders as punishment for copyright infringement was contrary to EU law and had sought to scupper the unpopular legislation.

The firms' lawyers claimed the three strikes anti-piracy measures were an invasion of privacy and could run up disproportionate costs for users and service providers.

However, the decision was welcomed by lobbyists for the creative industries, who claimed that illegal downloads cost millions in lost revenue every year.

Though we have lost this appeal we will continue fighting to defend our customers’ rights against this ill-judged legislation

According to a report on the BBC, the general secretary of actors union Equity said it was now time for 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," Christine Payne said.

Consumer risks

However, consumer rights groups decried the decision and said the legislation still needed work to avoid it becoming a tool for the creative industries to exploit at the expense of consumers.

"There is one thing the court cannot tell us: that this is a good law," said Peter Bradwell, an advocate at the Open Rights Group.

"The Department for Culture, Media and Sport had no evidence when they wrote this Act, except for the numbers they were given by a couple of industry trade bodies.

"So significant problems remain. Publicly available Wi-Fi will be put at risk. Weak evidence could be used to penalise people accused of copyright infringement. And people will have to pay £20 for the privilege of defending themselves against these accusations."

TalkTalk response

It is unclear at this stage whether the ISPs will take the case to a higher court.

‘We’re disappointed that our appeal was unsuccessful though we welcome the additional legal clarity that has been provided for all parties," TalkTalk said in a statement.

"We are reviewing this long and complex judgement and considering our options. Though we have lost this appeal we will continue fighting to defend our customers’ rights against this ill-judged legislation."

Read more about: