Many have lambasted the decision by the High Court to grant a judicial Review of the Digital Economy Act on behalf of TalkTalk and BT. The underlying issue here is not that the Act was pushed through Parliament in the so-called ‘wash-up’ period, but that the ISPs are trying to use this as a fig-leaf for their own agendas.
It is staggering that this Act, bourn out of years of consultation, of debate and of Parliamentary time, is now being challenged in some last ditch attempt by the ISPs to ensure they are not hit financially.
We have long struggled with rampant internet piracy, together with other intellectual property rights holders and that debate did appear to have taken a step forward when this Act was passed earlier in the year. But what we are now seeing is a rear guard action by some as a potential move to undermine its credibility and legal framework through the Courts.
Recent research by independent organisations has found that 70% of file-sharers would cease their activities if they received a warning letter about their illegality. If this happens that leaves only the serious, serial infringers to deal with which would make the task of reduction in theft somewhat more manageable.
It was always my hope that the graduated response provisions of this Act will be proportionate and drive traffic towards legitimate downloads. What can be wrong with that? I have consistently called for behaviour change.
We know that when people are challenged, they change their behaviour. An inevitable part of the legislative framework must discourage people from taking the illicit route. At this time of economic pressure it is great news for the country too, since more legitimate sales will mean more tax revenue and more workers in employment – everyone wins.
The provisions of the Act must be allowed to have a chance to work for benefits to be seen.