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Thursday, 4 August 2011

Wither the Digital Economy Act?

A year later we're still fussing over the damn thing and, surprise, surprise: site-blocking has been abandoned as unworkable and ISPs won't have to subsidise the costs of protecting outmoded entertainment industry business models.

BUT! I cannot fathom a decision to charge on individual citizens £20 for appealing "every notification letter received from their ISP, and against every instance of infringement identified" by a copyright owner. It's all very well to say that this will discourage vexatious appeals and that the individual can recover the £20 if their appeal is successful. But where is the constraint on the mistaken, vexatious or groundless issue of infringement notices? Will it cost £20 per notice to complain about that? Can they all be heard together? These things could arrive like confetti, effectively reversing the burden of proof and obliging the indivdual to underwrite a multiplicity of appeals.

My sense is that there will be not be a significant number of appeals. But, on the flip-side (as it were), rights owners who avail themselves of this process will find their material shunned altogether, for the reasons discussed in Henry Jenkins' "Convergence Culture". Rights owners who don't understand that are doomed.

I can't imagine what Kafkaesque process Ofcom is being forced to envisage in order to bring this monster to life, but I understand we'll find out "shortly".

Image from LoveMarks.