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UK Three-Strikes Code in Next Few Weeks


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Ofcom says it expects to publish details of how the govt plans to enforce provisions of the Digital Economy Act in the "next few weeks," but cautions there needs to be robust sources of "legitimate" copyrighted material if the Act is to succeed and get the country to the "right place."

Ever since the UK's Digital Economy Act was approved this past April the country's Office of Communications (Ofcom) has been working overtime to create a framework for how ISPs will be forced to comply with the Act's provision requiring "three-strikes" for repeat file-sharers and filtering of websites containing infringing material among others.

Altogether, the process is supposed to take 8 months, the maximum amount of time the Act allows for from the time of Royal Assent, the Queen's formal approval of the legislation. It began working on the framework soon after the Act was passed, and unveiled a draft code of practice back in June.

The Open Rights Group said recently that "everything is falling behind schedule," but according to Ofcom, a code is just a "few weeks away," still giving it plenty of time to meet the Act's deadline.

"We expect to publish a code in this area in the next few weeks," Ofcom's chief executive, Ed Richards, said recently. "It will be about enforcement, about introducing the measures that the DEA sets out. We will do it and observe how that unfolds over the next few months."

He said the code will be built upon the draft released earlier this year, though didn't mention how or to what degree. The draft did include a vow to establish an "independent, robust subscriber appeals mechanism" so at least some concerns are addressed.

The real problem concerns Wi-Fi and it's still not clear whether or not Ofcom will address the issue. Last week I reported yet another study proving the vulnerability of large swaths of home Wi-Fi connections, proving that many are susceptible to false copyright infringement claims. Short of mandating router models and encryption standards the trend is likely to continue.

Ofcom doe acknowledge, however, that enforcement is only one side of the equation, that there needs to be legal sources of copyrighted material available to the public if the Act is to succeed.

"But it's also the point at which the other part of the story needs to be told — [about] the legitimate offers and commercial propositions which sit in parallel to the enforcement regime, that [let people download content] in an honest and legal way," he added. "If one is there and the other is not, it would take a very great optimist to believe we can get to the right place."

Exactly. Part of the problem has been the copyright holders hold content hostage in order to observe arbitrary geographic release dates and restrictions. P2P has always been a relief valve of sorts for consumers and will continue to be unless copyright holders seek changes.

Either way, file-sharing is likely to continue no matter what Ofcom does.

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