U.K. Digital Anti-Piracy Legislation on Pause Until 2014

LONDON—The implementation of a digital anti-piracy law in the United Kingdom that was first passed in 2010 will be delayed until 2014, a spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said Thursday.

"The Digital Economy Act was passed in controversial circumstances at the end of the last Labour government in 2010, and has attracted criticism from users and ISPs alike," ZDNet UK reported today.

The law, which just last month survived a two year challenge by U.K. ISPs Talk Talk and BT, which had failed to convince the court that the law is incompatible with European Union law, is being postponed because the court did agree with one of the arguments put forth by the ISPs questioning the cost-sharing aspect of the DEA, which, according to PC Pro, "required ISPs to pay 25 percent of Ofcom's costs to set up the system and 25 percent of the costs of setting up an appeals body.

"That ruling means the law must be changed, as will Ofcom’s own code on the subject—meaning another impact assessment will have to happen regarding the costs."

That process, said the DCMS spokesperson, will take until early 2014, when the first letters to suspected copyright infringers are expected to be sent out.

"Under the Act, letters sent out to apparent illegal file-sharers would offer advice on how to prevent such illegal activity," reported the BBC. "Serious repeat offenders risk facing measures that limit, or even cut off, internet connection."

The ultimate sanction of alleged infringers who fail to respond to notices after a year will reportedly be up to the business secretary to finalize.

Needless to say, ISPs are pleased with the delay, and some are even positing that the law may never go into effect.

"It’s still a fairly long way away until the first implementation of the Act but there is going to be plenty of other heated debate en route—surveillance/Intercept Modernisation Programme and Claire Perry’s porn blocking initiative—and who knows what else might happen in the meantime," Trefor Davies, CTO of ISP Timico, wrote in a blog post.

A spokesperson for the ISP Association said, simply, "The fact it hasn't been implemented is a good thing. We don't think it's a particularly good piece of legislation."