Lords’ change to copyright law could see content sites blocked

A proposed change to copyright law could force ISPs to block access to content sites such as YouTube.

An amendment to the Digital Economy Bill proposed yesterday by the House of Lords could give a High Court judge the right to issue an injunction against a website hosting a “substantial” amount of copyright-infringing material.

The changes could affect many popular sites such as YouTube, which doesn’t scrutinise the content uploaded by users so could be hosting a large amount of copyright-infringing content.

The House of Lords said the amendment, put forward by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement-Jones, would be a more “proportionate, specific and appropriate” way to handle piracy and copyright infringement than previous proposals such as the three-strikes system.

It gives ISPs the power to close down access to a site if they receive a claim of copyright infringement. If they’re not deemed to have acted on the claim then copyright owners can apply to the court to get the block enforced.

“I believe this will send a powerful message to our creative industries that we value what they do, that we want to protect what they do, that we don’t believe in censoring the internet but we are responding to genuine concerns,” Lord Clement-Jones said.

The amendment has already been criticised by the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), which said the changes had been rushed through.

Nicholas Lansman, secretary-general of ISPA, said, “We’ve been supportive of peers’ excellent scrutiny of the bill to date. In this instance, however, our members are extremely concerned that the full implications of the amendment haven’t been understood and that the reasoning behind it is wholly misguided. We would therefore urge the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to urgently reconsider their position.”

This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk

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