The Digital Economy Act 2010 was given royal assent late on Thursday, 8 April 2010, following the final reading of the Digital Economy Bill in the House of Commons, the previous night. The Bill was rushed through the parliamentary process in a period known as the ‘wash up’ in preparation for the election. One of the most debated clauses, clause 18, relating to digital copyright infringement, has been redrafted. The latest version sees file-sharers accused of infringing copyright having their internet connections suspended, through ‘blocking injunctions’ without the opportunity to be heard before a court. This could have serious consequences for internet providers including universities, colleges and libraries. In another amendment, clause 43 of the Bill (formerly 42) relating to ‘orphaned works’, where the copyright owner cannot be legitimately traced, has been dropped completely. The Act will also give policing powers to Ofcom, although it has suggested there are concerns over how to implement these.
However, the Digital Economy Act's anti-piracy measures are to be delayed the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed. Measures such as potential disconnection will not be enforced until at least 2014, at a conference in November 2011 Ofcom stated spring 2013. Action has stalled due to legal challenges. More details on this story are available from the BBC website.
NOTE: See now the July 2012 guidance - "The Digital Economy Act 2010 Impact on educational institutions and public libraries" on the CILIP website.