Ofcom has published its revised draft Initial Obligations Code ("IOC"), which underpins the initial obligations imposed on internet service providers ("ISPs") to reduce online copyright infringement under the Digital Economy Act 2010 ("DEA").

The key aspects of the 2010 code remain unchanged but the recent changes include the following:

  • Ofcom must approve copyright owners' procedures for gathering evidence of infringement. In this regard, Ofcom is to sponsor the development of a publicly-available standard to help promote good practice;
  • ISPs must now tell subscribers the number of copyright infringement reports that are connected to their account; and
  • Subscribers have 20 working days to appeal an allegation of infringement but can only do so on grounds specified in the DEA.

A one month consultation period for ISPs and rights-holders to make representations closed on 26 July 2012. The IOC is now being scrutinised by the European Commission and is likely to be laid before the European Parliament in December 2012. 

The implementation of the DEA is therefore progressing. However, Ofcom is not expecting the first notification letters (informing customers that their accounts are being linked to suspected online copyright infringement) to be sent until 2014 so the first technical measures will not be imposed until 2015. In the meantime, copyright owners need to apply for court orders against ISPs to obtain details of infringers akin to those granted in the Newzbin and Pirate Bay proceedings, as reported in our previous edition of SnIPpets.