Tom Brake (The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons; Carshalton and Wallington, Liberal Democrat)
Thank you for ensuring that the record is accurate, Mr Chope.
This reform will remove a power from the Digital Economy Act 2010 to make regulations containing site blocking provisions. The Act gives courts the power to grant injunctions requiring service providers to block access to specified sites to prevent the infringement of copyright. That power was included in the Act to enable copyright owners to tackle sites based outside the UK that offer their copyright material illegally. Copyright owners were unable to take action against the sites in the UK, and found it difficult to pursue them in their home territory. Therefore, it was considered reasonable to provide the ability to block access via internet service providers.
After the Act came into effect, the Government asked Ofcom to carry out a review of the efficacy of such site-blocking injunctions if they were to be made. Ofcom concluded that, in practice, such injunctions were unlikely to be effective, so the Government announced that they had no intention of making such regulations. Subsequently, copyright owners began to utilise the pre-existing provisions in section 97A of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 successfully to apply for site-blocking injunctions, rendering the regulation-making powers in the 2010 Act unnecessary.
Since section 97A of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act now provides remedies for copyright owners, and in the light of the Ofcom review’s doubts about the practical usability of the power in the Digital Economy Act, there is clearly no need for the power to be in the 2010 Act. I commend the clause to the Committee.