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A code which will act as the model for Ofcom, the UK regulator, to supervise the new copyright enforcement measures against peer-to-peer downloading, has been drafted by the UK government.


The Digital Economy Bill provides for the regulator, Ofcom, to supervise the new copyright enforcement measures targeting  Internet users. The measures, which occupy over one third of the Bill, initially target peer-to-peer users, but in fact, the scope of the Bill looks set to go much wider. (I am still in the process of analysing it, but this is my current view.)

Ofcom will be asked to draw up a code of practice by which the rights-holders and the Internet service providers are to operate the new measures. Effectively, Ofcom will be supervising the policing of the Internet in the UK. The document which has recently been released provides a model outline for this code, and

some of the detail of what it will contain.


The Digital Economy Bill: Online Infringement of copyright , Outline of initial obligations code   includes the following:

  • The rights-holders will report on alleged infringements to the ISPsin a new form of document called a Copyright Infringement Report (CIR) detailing the alleged infringement and supporting evidence
  • This is a large-scale activity, and the ISPs will be expected to handle high volumes of requests
  • There will be a maximum window from the date of the alleged infringement, in which the rights-holders may submit their allegation
  • Three notifications are to be sent, and the final version of the code will spell out exactly in what time periods they are to be sent.
  • ISPs are allowed to direct users to their own (the ISP's own) "legal" offers ( ie Sky could direct users to Sky content, likewise Virgin, etc.)
  • Mobile broadband users who have not given the ISP an address, will  not be able to be sent notifications.
  • Data protection regulations : copyright owners will be offered the opportunity to identify repeat  infringers of their own content (eg Disney will only want to take action against people who infringed against Disney content (sic))
  • Code enforcement procedures will be implemented: this concerns enforcing the code against ISPs, not users. There will be a period of grace (sic) for ISPs to comply.
  • There will be an appeals procedure for users ( but not a prior procedure - readers who have followed the EU Telecoms Package  will recognise why this is important).
  • Standards of evidence for rights-holders will be established. Here is a short quote from the draft code:

As a minimum we expect the code would require that the method of detection was via a robust and reputable technology (which was open to independent/Ofcom scrutiny), that a copy of the copyright material (or significant part thereof) was captured as part of the detection process, the copyright owner had verified that it had reason to believe that the usage identified was an infringement, the uploading IP address was captured and that an exact date/time stamp was taken.


Download and read The Digital Economy Bill: Online Infringement of copyright, Outline of initial obligations code   


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) UK Digital Economy Bill:   Internet policing code released  , 20 January 2010. 


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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

Don't miss Iptegrity!  RSS/ Bookmark is the website of Dr Monica Horten. She is a policy analyst specialising in Internet governance & European policy, including platform accountability. She is a published author & Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on  Internet Freedom. She has worked on CoE, EU and UNDP funded projects in eastern Europe and the Caucasus. In a voluntary capacity, she has led UK citizen delegations to the European Parliament. She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012.

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