Lords defeat clause 17, but cause chaos of their own

The Lords have voted down the Government’s attempt to make arbitrary amendments to copyright law – but have rubber stamped a “dangerous” copyright amendment of their own.

Lords defeat clause 17, but cause chaos of their own

The controversial part of Clause 17, which would have given ministers the right to amend copyright law without due Parliamentary process, was defeated in the House of Lords last night.

In its place, however, arrives an amendment tabled by Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers that will give courts the power to force ISPs to block access to sites accused of copyright infringement. The motion was passed by 165 to 140 votes.

The amendment, which was only tabled at the end of last week, has been branded as “dangerous” by civil liberties campaigners, who claim it swings the balance of power in favour of the copyright holders. “Individuals and small businesses would be open to massive ‘copyright attacks’ that could shut them down, just by the threat of action,” the Open Rights Group chief executive, Jim Killock, claimed yesterday.

The amendment still has to pass through the House of Commons before being added to the final bill.

Broadband faults

Meanwhile, cross-bench peer Lord Erroll is sticking to his guns on another amendment, which demands that Ofcom establishes a scheme to deal with consumer broadband faults.

The amendment aims to eradicate the “buck-passing” between BT and ISPs when consumers report a fault on their broadband lines, and ensure that lines are repaired to an adequate standard.

The amendment was withdrawn, but will be tabled again by Lord Erroll for the third reading of the bill, which takes place next week.

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