A 'plan B' is needed to avoid potential litigation caused by blocking of websites which have been accused of unlawful file sharing, according to a working group made up of the government, ISPs and the music industry. This follows the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt's referral of part of the Digital Economy Act (section 17) which deals with blocking of websites, to Ofcom to see how workable it will be in practice. Section 17 can be found here and, in brief, reads:
17. Power to make provision about injunctions preventing access to locations on the internet
- The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about the granting by a court of a blocking injunction in respect of a location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright.
- “Blocking injunction” means an injunction that requires a service provider to prevent its service being used to gain access to the location.Extract from Section 17 of the Digital Economy Act
The working group intends to look at what can be done to make the system more acceptable, and easier to implement for ISPs who could face repercussions from being forced to block parts of the Internet. One concern is that service providers could get sued by websites who have been blocked. The system could have wider affects of blocking innocent parties if a service provider's implementation of this does not have finely grained control.
"It is agreed that what is needed is a plan B, or at least a plan that works alongside section 17 which would be the legal backstop. We want to look at how ISPs and rights holders can work together."Unnamed meeting attendee
The meeting was attended by Jeremy Hunt, Ed Vaizey, BT, TalkTalk, Google, Universal Music and the BPI.