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News from the field

Great Britain: "Digital Economy Act 2010" has been published

Published on: 12.04.10
Source: British Parliament

The Digital Economy Bill received Royal Assent on 8 April and is now an Act of Parliament, which has been published as the Digital Economy Act 2010. The Act provides rules for public service broadcasting, copyright licensing, online infringement of copyright and security and safety for online services and video games.

The most important aspects of the Bill were already set out in the ‘Digital Britain’ White Paper , which was published in June 2009. The Digital Britain White Paper includes topics like communications infrastructure, digital participation of the society and the exposure to digital content. This means for example universal access to broadband by 2012, Digital Radio Upgrade by 2015 and a regulatory framework to combat Digital Piracy.

The Digital Economy Bill is published on the Internet and some interesting facts became public: The Secretary of State will get the power to regulate the access to websites in cases of strong suspicion of copyright infringement. Specifically this regulation means a so-called "blocking injunction".

This injunction allows the service provider to block access to a website if the Secretary of State is satisfied that it infringes the copyright of material. Furthermore the "Digital Economy Bill" says that a court cannot grant a blocking injunction unless notice of the application has been given to the service provider and the operators of the location.

The Digital Economy Act 2010 includes a variety of clauses for example about :

  • OFCOM reports: The independent organisation regulates the broadcasting, telecommunications and wireless communications sector in Great Britain and also sets and enforces rules on fair competition between companies in these industries.
  • Independent television services.
  • Independent radio services.
  • Access to electromagnetic spectrum.
  • The Act allows the Secretary of State to intervene in Internet domain name registration.
  • The Act requires Channel Four to provide public service content on a range of media.
  • The Act extends the range of video games that are subject to age-related classification.
  • Some measures in the Act will come into effect immediately, others in two months’ time. Many of the Act’s injunctions require further public consultation and in some cases the grant of Parliament is necessary, before they can be implemented.

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