By Claire West

The Government today set out how costs would be shared as part of the Digital Economy Act’s measures to tackle online infringement of copyright.

The decision will see costs resulting from these measures split between rights holders and internet service providers (ISPs) at a ratio of 75:25 respectively.

Responding to its consultation on sharing costs for implementing the initial obligations to send notifications to consumers who have infringed online copyright, the Government also announced no fee will be charged to consumers who want to appeal a notification.

Minister for Communications, Ed Vaizey, commented:

“Protecting our valuable creative industries, which have already suffered significant losses as a result of people sharing digital content without paying for it, is at the heart of these measures.

“The Digital Economy Act serves to reduce online copyright infringement through a fair and robust process and at the same time provides breathing space to develop better business models for consumers who buy music, films and books online.

“We expect the measures will benefit our creative economy by some £200m per year and as rights holders are the main beneficiaries of the system, we believe our decision on costs is proportionate to everyone involved.”

The costs sharing decision applies to both the notification and appeals process. Following serious consideration of the issue of appeal costs, it has been decided that no fee should be charged to internet subscribers who wish to use the appeal system to refute a notification. However as a free system risks the possibility of large numbers of unnecessary appeals, the Government will monitor the situation closely, and reserves the right to introduce a small fee at a later stage.

The decision will now be notified to the European Commission before being introduced in Parliament as a Statutory Order. Ofcom’s Online Copyright Infringement Initial Obligations Code will implement the notifications process and will also reflect the decision on costs. This will come into force in the first half of 2011.