BT And TalkTalk Appeal Against Digital Economy Act Fails

Major UK ISPs lose challenge against controversial anti-piracy law

Two of the UK’s largest internet service providers (ISPs) have lost their appeal against the controversial anti-piracy measures in the Digital Economy Act (DEA).

The court of appeal ruled that BT and TalkTalk must comply with the Act, meaning that identified file-sharers may soon receive warning letters and could eventually be forced offline.

Failed appeal

Following a failed appeal last year against the DEA, in which four out of five grounds for appeal were unsuccessful, the two ISPs had argued that the anti-piracy measures were “inconsistent with European law” and would breach the privacy of their customers, as well as driving up costs for providers and consumers.

Lord Justice Arden, Lord Justice Patten and Lord Justice Richards today dismissed BT and TalkTalk’s claims, saying that the DEA is proportionate in dealing with illegal file-sharing and the costs incurred are justified.

The ISPs will be made to pay 25 per cent of the costs required to set up an appeals body for alleged pirates and 25 per cent of the fees associated in finding them, according to the Guardian. The court did however decide that the ISPs would not have to pay 25 per cent of case fees.

“We’re disappointed that our appeal was unsuccessful though we welcome the additional legal clarity that has been provided for all parties,” said TalkTalk in a statement. “Though we have lost this appeal, we will continue fighting to defend our customers’ rights against this ill-judged legislation.”

Copyright groups claim that piracy currently costs them £400 million per year. Various creative unions and organisations welcomed today’s ruling as a way to prevent ongoing damage to their industry.

“Once again the court is on the side of the almost two million workers in the creative industries whose livelihoods are put at risk because creative content is stolen on a daily basis,” said Equity general secretary, Christine Payne, speaking to the BBC.

However, resistance against the DEA will likely not subside, particularly considering persistent opposition from the UK’s Pirate Party and past challenges from the Liberal Democrats.

“When the Digital Economy Act itself was passed in the dying stages of the Labour government, there was a huge amount of disquiet that this kind of important legislation was being introduced without proper scrutiny,” Adam Rendle, a copyright specialist at law firm Taylor Wessing, told the BBC.

“That kind of disquiet didn’t result in the kind of action we’ve seen against Acta and SOPA. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a lot more public outcry than there was when the Act was first passed.”