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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Privacy Group Hit Back at DEA Code

The Open Rights Group has slammed Ofcom’s Initial Obligations Code proposal, calling it no more than “a joke”. The measures that will be published under the UK’s Digital Economy Act advise the public on unauthorized downloading of video and music.

In addition, they give Internet service providers pointers on notifying their subscribers whether they believe to download pirated content, including advising where they are able to go to find legal music downloads, and how to protect the network from being used to violate copyright.

The Initial Obligations Code will originally cover Internet service providers with over 400,000 broadband-enabled fixed lines. The list of those includes BT, TalkTalk, Everything Everywhere, O2, Sky, and Virgin Media. The largest broadband providers are demanded to send letters to their subscribers, at least a month apart, notifying them about their account being connected to reports of alleged copyright violation. In case the subscriber gets 3 letters or more within a year, anonymous data may be released on request to rights holders indicating which infringement reports were linked to that subscriber’s account.

Nevertheless, the appeal side of the code says that people who feel to be accused on wrong grounds have to spend £20 to appeal. In addition, the grounds for appeal had been narrowed and will include only matters of factual accuracy of the accusation. Moreover, the accusation also covered everyone using a connection, not only the individual receiving a letter.

In other words, although commercial Wi-Fi operators were excluded, public services, like libraries, hotels and bars sharing broadband connections over Wi-Fi will still have to refute accusations of their customers.

In response, the executive director of the Open Rights Group pointed out that digital revenues are increasing, while the content industry is moving in the right direction. He called the appeals a “joke”, because according to them people will undoubtedly end up in court having done nothing wrong. Meanwhile, the Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director explained that the suggested measures were designed to foster investment and innovation in the country’s entertainment industry, while ensuring online users are treated fairly and facilitating access to lawful content.

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