Coalition splits on Digital Economy Act

The Digital Economy Act has been challenged by the Tory Coalition partner,  with Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert proposing a motion that would repeal parts of the law related to website blocking.

Huppert is the the MP for Cambridge and chair of the Liberal Democrats’ IT policy working group.

He tabled several amendments to the Protection of Freedoms Bill. This would have had the effect of repealing sections 17 to 18 of the DEA, which permit websites to be blocked if they are suspected of infringing copyright.

According to eWeek, the idea went nowhere as the discussion ran out of time, but it is being seen that the Liberal Democrats are going to try and take down the DEA.

Huppert reckons that although this amendment failed, he will keep looking for opportunities.

The DEA is designed to protect Big Content from online piracy, and includes provision to cut copyright infringers off the internet. It also allows for website blocking. ISPs led by BT and TalkTalk are opposing the Act through the courts, and were granted leave for a fresh appeal last week.

All that Big Content has to do to get a website shut down is to suspect that piracy has taken place. No evidence was required.

In the UK the feeling is that the DEA was rushed through in the last days of the Labour government and last month the Liberal Democrats formally pledged to repeal certain elements of the DEA.

The Conservatives could have blamed Labour for the daft law, but they didn’t because that would mean angering their chums in Big Content. All they have offered so far is a six month review of current IP protection laws.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey described the high court challenge to the DEA by BT and TalkTalk as “odd” which we guess means that the Tories love the law to bits.