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Government ditches plans to block filesharing sites following changes to copyright law

Kathleen Hall

Controversial plans to block sites that host material infringing copyright law such as illegal filesharing sites have been ditched by the government. The plans were first put forward in the Digital Economy Act last year.

The decision follows the government's announcement to accept all 10 of the recommendations laid out in professor Hargreaves' review of intellectual property law, which include changing the law so that consumers can transfer content from CDs or DVDs to a different format, such as an MP3 file on a computer.

Business secretary Vince Cable said: "The government is focused on boosting growth and the Hargreaves review highlighted the potential to grow the UK economy. By creating a more open intellectual property system it will allow innovative businesses to develop new products and services which will be able to compete fairly in the UK's thriving markets for consumer equipment."

Alongside the response to the Hargreaves Review, a new "intellectual property crime strategy" and "international strategy for intellectual property" have been published.

Minister for intellectual property Judith Wilcox said: "Intellectual property is a key UK export, and global trade in IP licences alone is worth more than £600bn a year. UK businesses need to have confidence in the international IP framework so they are able to create and exploit value from their ideas."

Peter Bradwell, campaigner at Open Rights Group, welcomed the move. "The government should be applauded for wanting to modernise our copyright laws by following the Hargreaves Review recommendations," he said.

But Bradwell said other proposals relating to the Digital Economy Act still needed to be changed. "In particular charging people £20 to appeal against copyright warnings is unfair. The evidence against alleged infringers is likely to be unreliable. The government should follow the IPO's new IP crime strategy and rebuild its copyright enforcement policy from scratch, driven by evidence and a proper, public consultation," he said.


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