By Claire West

The Government has announced its official response to the consultation on online infringement of copyright cost sharing, stating that copyright owners will pay 75 per cent of the costs associated with benefiting from the parts of the Digital Economy Act 2010, which tackle online copyright infringement. Internet service providers (ISPs) will pay the remaining 25 per cent.

In response, John Lovelock, Chief Executive of FAST commented: “It is very interesting to finally see the Government’s response and this appears to be a sensible compromise.”

“We are pleased that our call — along with many rights holders — that the ISPs must share some burden of costs as it means that pressure is applied to ensure operational methods and systems are cost efficient.”

“We concede that in court action, copyright owners usually must pay, but at court if you win, such costs are generally recoverable which is at odds with this system. Questions do remain on the detail however, including how the 75% is totted up. We are nervous that costs outside of the copyright owners’ control may be unintentionally inflated. Think about it, what systems will there be and who will pay for these? Will “systems” be necessary? How accessible will such systems be to those who have not paid for their development? Does the cost depend on pre-agreed volumes disclosed by rights holders and are such payments made in advance to ISPs and Ofcom? Should copyright holders commit to cost when there is a Judicial Review on the Act with the decision currently unknown?” he continued.

“This news is a major milestone for the never ending work to defeat online piracy. Consumers must be educated on legitimate downloads meaning increased legitimate sales and a positive prospect for the Creative Industries. Overall, whilst this is a welcome outcome, the devil is in the detail,” he concluded.

The deadline for Ofcom to complete the initial obligations code will be extended by three months to reflect the need to notify the cost regulation separately under the Technical Standards Directive.