4th post in a series on the government's response to Hargreaves
The implementation plan for the Digital Economy Act stalled with the Judicial Review last March, and has been kept close to chests of the DCMS officials responsible for it. However, a few hints appeared in the government’s response to Hargreaves. The plan is for the first warnings (copyright infringement notifications) to be sent
to Internet users in December 2012. That sounds like a long way away, but in terms of Parliamentary processes, it means that the gant chart of deadlines has to be prepared now.
Before the notification system can go ahead, an Initial Obligations Code, prepared by Ofcom, has to be in place, with all the relevant approvals. The Code has been written and is somewhere in the DCMS filing system, waiting for the signal to move ahead. When the signal is sounded, its first stop will be the European Commision, which has to check it – together with the Digital Economy Act – for compliance with EU law. That process can take 2-3 months.
Assuming it gets the all-clear from Brussels, the next stage for the Initial Obligations Code is to go before Parliament (note the DE Act does not go to Parliament again, just the Code). Parliament only has the power to reject it under the Annulment process, which does not allow for any debate. Parliament’s approval is therefore a nominal rubber-stamp.
Once the Parliamentary stamp is obtained, the Initial Obligations Code – and the DE Act measures against peer-to-peer file-sharing which it implements - is under starters orders.
The government’s stated objective is to get the first notifications out by December 2012. Working backwards, it has go to the European Commission fairly soon. The earliest it could be approved is around Christmas. It will have to be slotted into a Parliamentary schedule early next year, to give the rights-holders and ISPs maximum time to slog out the fine print and get their shiny new automated systems in place.
Of course, the European Commission might disagree with the BIS/DCMS interpretation of Article 1.3a – and that could cause a small delay.
Please attribute this article: Monica Horten (2011) DE Act : ready steady go http://www.iptegrity.com 12 September 2011 .
The story of Article 1.3a is in my book: The Copyright Enforcement Enigma: Internet Politics and the 'Telecoms Package'