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The UK will have web blocking regulations soon

Updated Minister says expect it, they will come
Thu Feb 09 2012, 12:52

THE UK GOVERNMENT SEEMS SET to implement some form of web site blocking, according to some bully bluster that has been heard within its walls.

Anyone who is anyone in power these days is banging on about web site blocking and in the UK, where ministers wag when the US barks, politicians are no different. Although it's 'bad' when they are in opposition it's 'good' when they are in power, and presumably when they are taking tea with entertainment industry lobbyists.

Yesterday the topic came up during a parliamentary hearing on intellectual property when a minister reminded those attending that Ofcom is looking at proposals about web site blocking.

The Minister of State for Business, Mark Prisk said that an announcement is "imminent", according to the web site.

"We need an IP system that helps business and consumers to realise all the opportunities presented, which is why we are actively supporting the UK's creators and the creative industries and why, to benefit creators, we voted in Europe to extend the term of protection for sound recordings from 50 to 70 years, and why we pressed to introduce measures to tackle online infringement of copyright through the Digital Economy Act 2010," he said.

"We are closely considering the issue around blocking access, whether to block access to websites that infringe copyright. We will have something to say about that shortly, but, as I would like to continue to have a positive working relationship with my ministerial colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, I shall not pre-empt what they are about to say. An announcement is imminent, and I think that it will be welcomed."

We have asked Ofcom to comment. It finished its consultation into web blocking and the Digital Economy Act in Summer 2010. At that time it declined to support web site blocking proposals because they were unworkable.

We asked the DCMS for a comment, and according to what we got back there is nothing new happening in the area of web site blocking.

A spokesperson reminded us that rights holders can already ask to get web sites blocked, and added this is already happening.

"Following the Newzbin case, rights holders can already seek injunctions to have ISPs block access to websites dedicated to copyright infringement under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act. The Government will see how useful this ruling is to rights holders but we have no plans to introduce duplicate legislation," said the spokesperson.

However, he added that the Government is considering "other measures" for tackling ‘piracy'. "The Government is looking at other measures to tackle the problem of online piracy and these will feature in the communications review Green Paper, which will be published shortly." µ



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