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UK Web blocking powers return

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Andrew Orlowski
The Register
April 5, 2010

The government has been circulating revised web-blocking powers for the Digital Economy Bill with industry and activist groups, and The Register has seen a draft. This version is believed to have won the backing of the Tories, and could end up in a Second Reading.

The revised Clause 18 we’ve seen is a hybrid of the earlier Clause 17 (which was defeated) and its successor, the Tory/Lib-Dem Clause 18 (which was withdrawn). Ben Bradshaw’s latest draft gives the Secretary of State the power to allow Courts to grant injunctions against service providers compelling them to block “internet locations” – but only after a Parliamentary vote, and with a lot of conditions to be met.

These may not satisfy the rights holders, as it limits the scope of a possible injunction to one or two circumstances. The original BPI proposal, which you first read about here in January, looked a lot more like the US-style DMCA, which places the presumption of guilt on the service provider, and can result in large chunks of the internet disappearing based on one simple form. (See Record labels seek DMCA-style UK takedowns). And of course, it’s hugely uncertain whether the revised Clause will survive Wash Up.

Music business sources tell us that the most important part of the bill remains the technical measures against serial file sharers, introducing some element of risk to downloading, which today is largely risk-free. They’d like to see something in what’s called the ‘Rapidshare’ clause, but it’s not the clincher.

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This article was posted: Monday, April 5, 2010 at 10:05 am





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