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Digital Economy Act provisions to go ahead, says DCMS

Anti-piracy provisions in the controversial Digital Economy Act (DEA), currently under judicial review, have not been postponed, government sources say.

Reacting to reports that the provisions would not come into force for at least a year, a spokesperson for the department of culture, media and sport said: "Nothing has been postponed. We are aiming to have the first notification letters under the DEA go out in the first half of next year."

The notification letters will inform alleged copyright infringers that someone used their internet address to access copyright material illegally.

"The mass notification system aims to inform and educate," the department of culture, media and sport (DCMS) said. "It is not part of a formal legal process, there will be no demands for money and it does not involve any measures that impact on the subscriber's internet account.

"Technical measures (such as denying access or throttling bandwidth) cannot be introduced until the mass notification system has been in force for at least 12 months," it said.

The DCMS said that, under the mass notification system, rights holders have to identify IP addresses used to download copyright infringing material. They then send a list of IP addresses identified to the relevant ISP. The ISP will write to the account holder of the IP address used at the time of the alleged offence.

The ISP may not release the personal data of the account holder to the rights holder without a separate court order, the DCMS said.

The notification letter tells the account holder their account was identified as being used to download copyright infringing material. It does not say the account holder has downloaded the items, the DCMS said.

The letter also offers advice on how to ensure their internet connection is not used for downloading copyright infringing material in the future as well as advice about legitimate sources of digital content.

Ofcom is consulting on how to pay for the system and has still to set up an appeals process.

BT and TalkTalk, the UK's two largest internet service providers, have said it will cost tens of millions to set up the scheme. This would raise costs to ISPs, which they would pass on to customers, but would not stop career copyright pirates.

Their petition to have the DEA's anti-piracy provisions legally reviewed is currently before the High Court.

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