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Website blocking procedures to be removed from the DEA

The UK Government is to abolish sections 17 and 18 of the Digital Economy Act (DEA), said the Department for Culture Media and Sport on 26 June, following a report by Ofcom which found that the site blocking measures would be too unpredictable, costly and slow to be any more effective than existing copyright laws.

"The Government drafted something sloppy," said Natalie Elsborg, Senior Associate at Charles Russell. "In practice, the measures were likely to be difficult to implement effectively, risked the blocking of legitimate content and did not appear to present a faster or more streamlined process than the existing regime under the CDPA [Copyright Designs and Patents Act]," said Robert Blamires, Senior Associate at Field Fisher Waterhouse. Section 97A of the CDPA enables an injunction to be granted against an Internet Service Provider (ISP) if it has knowledge of infringement.

"The Newzbin2 and Pirate Bay cases demonstrate that there is no need to legislate for site blocking, when there is already a remedy available," said Andrew Tibber, Senior Associate at Burges Salmon. However, "one of the intentions of the DEA was to make it easier for rights holders to enforce their rights against infringers," adds Blamires.

While the site blocking measures were seen as key provisions within the DEA, "the other 46 sections are unaffected," said Nick Johnson, Partner at Osborne Clarke. "The measures requiring ISPs to take action against suspected copyright infringers remain."

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