Reports today that the UK Government has ‘brokered’ a deal between copyright owners and ISPs forcing ISPs to take a more pro-active role in cutting off illegal downloaders …
According to the IPKat things may be a little more complicated: at least one of the ISPs claims all it has agreed to do is write to the downloader and tell them that someone alleges they infringe copyright.
Kim has links to the UK Government’s announcement here and expands on the details.
All this is directed at downloaders. Here, of course, ISPs (I really mean ‘carriage service provider’, start here), engaging in Category A conduct get some protection; but nonetheless can have court orders inflicted on them to cut off accounts – who is going to bear the legal costs of a successful court action to achieve this? And there is more limited protection for other types of conducrt depending on whether the activity is Category B, Category C or Category D activity – I kid you not!
Of course, if you’re not a ‘carriage service provider’, you should be shaking in your boots; especially once you get a letter from someone claiming to be a copyright owner (or acting for one) see Metro on George and Cooper v Universal, although depending on your degree of involvement you may be able to argue the latter case in particular is a bit unusual.
Even if you are a ‘carriage service provider’, it may well be that you can’t afford to sit back and wait for letters of demand (I mean, notifications) to come in:
first, you may still be liable for infringement if you become aware of infringing material or of facts or circumstances that make it apparent that material is likely to be infringing …;
secondly, Viacom and the English Premier League (no, there is no copyright in a sporting spectacle, but there is in the broadcasts) contend under the US templates of these provisions that Google must be aware because there is too much infringing ‘stuff’ out there ….