UK ISP subscribers may not have to suffer being blocked from accessing certain websites, like The Pirate Bay and KAT.ph, for much longer following an unexpected potential about-turn from the government, which has proposed dropping the clauses that regulate the blocks.
The UK government’s Draft Deregulation Bill (PDF) proposes that sections of the Digital Economy Act 2010 (sections 17 and 18) under which court orders are imposed on ISPs be removed “on the basis of a study carried out by Ofcom which concluded that the specific blocking injunctions in the Act were unlikely to be effective in practice”.
If deregulated, UK subscribers to the largest ISPs in the country (largely the target of the blocks) could once again be able to access sites that had previously been blocked.
However, don’t get your hopes up too much just yet. Rights’ holders in the UK have also used Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988) to effectively achieve the same result (site blocks) in the past. It states that:
“The High Court (in Scotland, the Court of Session) shall have power to grant an injunction against a service provider, where that service provider has actual knowledge of another person using their service to infringe copyright.”
Regardless of which regulations are called upon to obtain a court order, it doesn’t change the fact that most Web blocks are simple enough to circumvent – a fact even the government and telecoms regulator Ofcom now seem to recognize.
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