As technology developments continue apace, the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) is calling for a revision in the Digital Economy Act (DEA).
The anti-piracy organisation has questioned whether the DEA, which was passed in 2010 but is not set to be implemented until about 2014, is adaptable enough to meet the next generation of connectivity.
Once implemented, the BEA will require ISPs to send warning letters to alleged illegal distributors and keep lists of repeat infringers.
But at the time it was drawn up, networks such as 4G and public WiFi were not thought to be conducive for wholesale copyright infringement.
Now, however, with the launch of 4G and burgeoning public WiFi provision, FAST is concerned that new copyright infringement opportunities beyond the current scope of the DEA will be opened up.
Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general council at FAST, said: “The DEA has the potential to be a valuable piece of legislation in the fight against illicit peer-to-peer copyright infringement and a significant development for rights holders as an educational programme.
"However, the DEA must remain timely. The issue is that by the time the DEA is finally implemented, technology could have moved on so far, making the act ineffective in helping to deal with those using 4G networks to share files. In its current form the DEA is not sufficiently flexible in scope to account for advances in technology.”
Backing up FAST's claims, Jonathan Cornthwaite, partner at London law firm Wedlake Bell LLP, said the DEA could do with being more flexible.
“The irony here is that the government dropped a key element of Clause 18 during wash-up, which could have effectively future-proofed the act, leaving enough room in its scope to account for methods of copyright infringement not yet considered. As we are now witnessing, technology does not stand still and gaps are appearing in the DEA as the use of mobile devices accelerates. Unless this situation can be remedied, it may be of less assistance, leaving rights holders with a watered-down remedy.”
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