Reviewing The Digital Economy Act

The judicial review of the UK’s Digital Economy Act opened at the Administrative Court of the Royal Courts of Justice in London March 23.

Mr Justice Kenneth Parker will hear telecoms BT and Talk Talk argue that the legislation is flawed and rushed through during the last days of the Labour government without sufficient scrutiny.

The British Phonographic Industry will defend the DEA because, flawed or not, it’s the only real weapon it has in its fight against Internet piracy.

A coalition of other rights holders including the Premier League and trade bodies representing the music, film and TV industries will line up alongside the BPI.

The Open Rights Group, which also believes the DEA is “badly flawed,” will also give evidence.

The law has already hit snags in the courts because judges felt legal firms were almost randomly sending letters threatening court action if recipients did not make “settlement” payments of up to £500 for copyright infringement.

ACS: Law, which is said to have made tens of thousands of pounds from sending such letters, is waiting to hear how much Judge Birss QC is going to charge it for wasting court time.

The company brought hundreds of file-sharing cases to court but dropped them when the allegedly guilty defendants decided to dispute them. Judge Birss concluded it simply didn’t have the evidence to proceed.

Talk Talk director Andrew Heaney has said the DEA’s method for reducing illegal filesharing are unfair and could well lead to millions of innocent customers having their privacy invaded.

Although the court hearing is expected to last only three days, it may be as much as two months before Justice Parker has completed his review and given his verdict.

If either side wishes to appeal his findings, it would likely take another six months for that appeal to be scheduled.