No repeal of Digital Economy Act, says minister


No repeal of Digital Economy Act, says minister

Ian Grant

The controversial Digital Economy Act will not be repealed, a spokesman for Jeremy Hunt, the new minister for Culture Olympics, Media and Sport, said today.

The act was rushed through parliament at the end of the last government in a manner described as "an abuse of the parliamentary process".

Its provisions against online copyright infringement will require secondary legislation before they come into force, according to officials at the department of business, innovation & Skills (BIS), which has joint responsibility with the Department for Culture Olympics, Media and Sport (DCMS) for the implementing act.

The date when this secondary legislation will be put before parliament is unknown.

This condition was negotiated between government and opposition whips in the face of backbench rebellions on both sides, and massive opposition to the bill outside parliament, particularly in internet-savvy circles, when the act was passed.

John Lovelock, CE of the Federation Against Software Theft (Fast) welcomed the news. "This is great news for the software industry, long struggling with internet piracy," he said.

He hoped that the graduated response provisions of the act, known as "three strikes and out", would be proportionate, and drive traffic towards legitimate download sites.

He said the UK faces software piracy rates of 27%, which cost the software industry £1.1bn a year.

Most of the act's provisions take effect on or around 9 June, two months after it was published. Those that came into effect immediately included:

  • Sections 5-7 regarding the initial obligations code, which covers costs of enforcing copyrights and thresholds for penalties.
  • Section 15, which deals with the sharing of costs in relation to provisions on online infringement of copyright.
  • Sections 30 to 32 about the digital radio switchover and renewal of radio licences.

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