The Digital Economy Act has never really gone away, and has been simmering on the back burner, today sees it make a leap forward with the appeal launched jointly by BT and TalkTalk failing.
BT and TalkTalk were claiming the Digital Economy Act was incompatible with EU law, and would represent an invasion of privacy and disproportionate costs for both internet providers and consumers.
For those who have forgotten, one major element of the Digital Economy Act was a system whereby copyright holders (or their agents) would inform providers of suspected copyright infringement, the provider would then figure out which customer was responsible and write to the customer (at some point after multiple infringements further action could be taken, such as being placed on the Serious Infringers List). The idea being that people will stop infringing copyright once the error of their ways has been pointed out to them.
The creative industry, claims that copyright infringement costs some £400m a year, though many do dispute this figure, as it generally relies upon each downloaded track/film/book representing a lost sale. The reality is that while a proportion will be lost sales, some may lead to sales down the line, e.g. live concerts and other merchandise.
All too often in press coverage of copyright infringement, the internet providers are portrayed as being opposed to copyright, which is a long way from the truth. The reason they would appear to be fighting these battles is that want to ensure that processes are sensible, proportionate and not the result of legislation rushed through in the closing weeks of the previous Government.
For the levels of copyright infringement to be reduced, there needs to be co-operation between internet providers and copyright holders, which in terms of the music industry appears well underway, alas the movie studios appear to be a few years behind this curve. The evidence for this is the lack of good quality DRM free video content available for those who will pay for content, but want it portable across all their devices.
A perfect case in point is the emerging Ultraviolet system, which bundles codes for a digital copy of a movie with the DVD, or Blu-Ray and potentially digital only copies (Ultraviolet super-cedes the older digital copy system). Alas the codes only have to be honoured for a year, so when someone buys a new PC,tablet or phone a year or so after buying a film, they find they cannot format shift the film onto the new device, also films are limited to a person having three copies. The person who obtained the film through a file-sharing site has none of these limitations, and can often access the film at a higher bit-rate.