UK Passes Internet Access-Limiting Bill For Alleged IP Infringers 08/04/2010 by Kaitlin Mara for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The United Kingdom Parliament late last night approved a controversial digital economy bill that allows the court to impose obligations on internet service providers to limit internet access of its users deemed to have infringed online copyrights. In a vote of 189 to 47 – not big numbers for the 650 member body – the House of Commons voted to approve a bill that opponents fear could limit the internet access of British citizens accused of copyright infringement and cause the blocking of undesirable websites. In particular it is feared it could be used to block access to whistleblower websites such as Wikileaks, which publishes confidential (and possibly copyrighted) government material. “WikiLeaks is a good example to consider, as are the websites that report on freedom of information requests, because the bill would give the US Government the opportunity to ban people from looking at WikiLeaks,” said Member of Parliament John Hemming during last night’s debate. A proposed Article 18, “preventing access to specified online locations for the prevention of online copyright infringement,” would have granted the court the power to block websites it deems to be hosting copyrighted content (with the service provider ordered to pay copyright costs of the application). This article was replaced with an amendment to the bill that would allow blocking a “location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright,” according to Parliament documentation. In a satirical message to the UK public from their government on its front page in the lead-up to the vote, European internet freedom advocates the Open Rights Group said “in the future, anyone accused of infringing the rights of [copyright] industries […] – even if not personally responsible for such an action – will face automatic disconnection from the internet.” It added the government intends to “limit hitherto unfettered access to the internet by banning websites accused of copyright infringement by copyright holders.” [Update 9 April 2010:] The content industry has issued statements in support of the bill, with the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) saying in a release it was a “decisive step towards dealing with […] illegal distribution” and with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) commenting that “the more this trend goes global, the greater the possibilities are for a thriving music marketplace.” The bill contains a so-called “three-strikes” rule for suspending the internet access of those who are accused of file sharing multiple times. The possibility of such rules have generated particular concern among civil society groups opposing the under-negotiation Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (IPW, Enforcement, 29 March 2010). Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Kaitlin Mara may be reached at email@example.com."UK Passes Internet Access-Limiting Bill For Alleged IP Infringers" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.