Broadband providers to decide where piracy law applies

It’s down to each company to determine which customers - including the likes of cafes and libraries offering public Wi-Fi - are subject to anti-online copyright infringement measures, says Ofcom

Major broadband providers must decide for themselves which of their customers to apply the anti-piracy code to, UK communications regulator Ofcom has said.

Providers will have to determine if places supplying their Wi-Fi to the public are subject to the code, Justin Le Patourel, head of online copyright at Ofcom, has been reported as saying by Out-Law.

However, Le Patourel, speaking at the Westminster Media Forum, said it may be down to a new independent appeals body to clarify how far the codes goes, according to the legal news website.

If the former is the case, then BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, who the code applies to, will have to decide whether the likes of cafes and libraries should be subject to measures designed to protect online copyright.

The code requires providers to send letters to customers informing them their broadband connection has been linked to suspected online copyright infringement and provide information to copyright owners on request if a customer is sent three letters or more with 12 months.

Le Patourel said that Ofcom does not believe public Wi-Fi providers should be classed as subscribers under the Digital Economy Act (DEA), the digital media law the anti-piracy code is part of, but that it is not up to Ofcom to decide this.

"We've already said that we believe that an individual who receives an internet service primarily for the purpose of using it, but who happens also to make it available to others by opening a Wi-Fi connection, is a subscriber, and can therefore legitimately receive notifications," he said.

"That's different to a library or a cafe which can demonstrate that it receives an internet service predominantly for the purpose of making it available to customers."

Public Wi-Fi providers worried about how they will be treated should use technology to prevent their service from being used to infringe copyright and explain to their broadband provider why they should not be classed as a subscriber under the terms of the code.

Do you own a small business that offers public Wi-Fi? Are you concerned about being held responsible for customers actions when using your internet connection? Let us know in the comment section below.

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