Bypassing the Act

by on April 23, 2010

We now have HMG’s Digital Economy Act in the wild. Conceived (by and?) on behalf of the music and film industries, drafted in ignorance of many technical realities, and rushed through the legislative process without any effective parliamentary scrutiny.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that avoiding the Act’s provisions on copyright infringement turns out to be trivial. All that is required for consumers to immunise themselves from the Act is for them to declare themselves not to be “subscribers” as defined by the Act, but “communication providers” instead. Here’s one ISP explaining the situation. As a “communications provider”, you avoid being harassed by your ISP if rights holders suspect you of infringing their copyright, and the ISP gets off the hook in having to spy on you as well. Well blow me down with a feather.

What I find the most depressing thing about all this silliness is that the legislators involved in creating the Act probably don’t care about it anyway. Their work is now done: the bungs have changed hands, the lucrative “advisory positions” and board memberships have been negotiated, and the “donations” have been made. Yes, some MPs opposed the Bill, but the vast majority neither knew nor cared about it.

I hope the ballot box in two weeks time will knock them all into a smoking hole in the ground.


I don’t think it is as simple as declaring yourselves as a comms provider – you would have to qualify and fall under the definition. What is most amusing is that many many universities, schools and libraries are SIMULTANEOUSLY ISPs, Comms Providers and Subscribers – the definitions are not mutually exclusive! So totally meaningless. I will be on the OFCOM boards meeting re the DEB so will be having some fun with this legal mayhem.

On another web design point (shocking I know coming from me) – just went to to write to the local LibDem candidate (not that I can vote as too late for a postal vote (in Helsinki) and a proxy voter has to be able to vote themselves – not useful when married to a non-EU citizen) – can’t find for love nor money on the homepage who our candidate is! Democracy in action – a bit like my denied vote and the fact voting is pointless here anyway as even a sheep standing for the Tories would get in.

I don’t know if the definitions in the Act overlap, but I think the point is here that if you *declare* to your ISP (AKA “upstream Internet access provider”) that you are a “communications provider”, and they acknowledge that, then, well, you are one. Both you and they are then off the hook for having to enforce the terms of the Act. If a rights holders wants to nobble you because they say the Act says you’re in fact a subscriber, then I assume they’d have to prove the illegitimacy of your claimed status.

But all this is rubbish. The law is rubbish, and this is just an example of the advanced state of silliness that everything has got to.

But the ISP would be wilfully breaking the law unless the subscriber actually fell under the definition of a comms provider …

It is indeed total rubbish – I might however enjoy myself kicking up a stink. I personally think it is all unenforcable anyway. Essentially you have universities, libraries, schools (only circa 15 million people) as an ISP and a subscriber having to inform themselves – but are exempt as are communication providers at the same time. Total f*cking nonsense and (a bit like much copyright related journalism) total crap as IT and the law are not things that sit comfortably next to each other.

ROAR! ガオオオオオオオ!!!

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