Rights holders to pick up costs of online copyright infringement

The government has outlined how costs will be shared as part of its Digital Economy Act’s measures to tackle online infringement of copyright, and it looks as though rights holders are picking up the larger part of the bill.

In an announcement today the government said that costs will be split by 25 percent by ISPs and 75 percent by rights holders for implementing the initial obligations to send notifications to consumers who have infringed online copyright.

It said currently no fee would be charged to consumers who want to appeal a notification, however, it said it will monitor the situation closely and could introduce a small fee at a later stage if it was inundated with appeals.

Commenting on the decision, which follows a long BIS consultation that opened in March, Minister for Communications Ed Vaizey said: “Protecting our valuable creative industries, which have already suffered significant losses as a result of people sharing digital content without paying for it, is at the heart of these measures.

“The Digital Economy Act serves to reduce online copyright infringement through a fair and robust process and at the same time provides breathing space to develop better business models for consumers who buy music, films and books online.

“We expect the measures will benefit our creative economy by some £200m per year and as rights holders are the main beneficiaries of the system, we believe our decision on costs is proportionate to everyone involved.”

However, not everyone is as convinced by the measures. Sebastien Lahtinen, co-founder of thinkbroadband.com, said: “We welcome the government’s decision to keep the appeal mechanism free for consumers at the point of access, at least until we can see how well the Copyright Infringement Notice process works in practice.

“We do still have some concerns about the level of technical understanding a consumer may require, to effectively challenge an allegation of copyright infridgement, but we hope that the system will be designed to be as accessible as possible.”
The decision will now be handed over to the European Commission before being introduced in Parliament as a Statutory Order.  Ofcom’s Online Copyright Infringement Initial Obligations Code, which is still being worked on, will implement the notifications process and will also reflect the decision on costs.  This will come into force in the first half of 2011.