Lawmakers in the United Kingdom seem to be having a change of heart about two key parts of an anti-piracy law. Lawmakers said at the end of last week that they plan to abandon legislative plans to block websites allegedly involved in distributing or sharing copyrighted materials.
Last week the UK's Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said that the government will attempt to repeal two crucial parts (sections 17 and 18) of the Digital Economy Act that would have allowed it to enforce Web site blocking at the ISP level. Section 17 allowed the government to seek a court order against "any location on the Internet" that was alleged to be actively infringing copyright. Section 18 laid out the approval process the government would use to secure the block.
But lawmakers see this as overkill because rights holders can already go to court to accomplish site blocking. The decision to repeal sections 17 and 18 has a lot to do with a May 2011 report by Ofcom (the UK's communications regulator) which came to the conclusion that the extra measures wouldn't work effectively.
"We do not think that sections 17 and 18 of the Act would meet the requirements of the copyright owners," the report said. It added that the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 already created a faster way for rightsholders to use the courts to get sites blocked.
Ultimately UK lawmakers decided to let legal precedent be the law of the land. That precedent was set a year ago when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), representing six U.S. film studios, forced broadband service provider BT to block access to file-sharing site Newzbin2. This led to more than 92 percent of the UK's broadband users being unable to connect to Magnet-links sharing sites.