IP inquiry suspended for BT/TalkTalk judicial review

Court case

UPDATED: The examination of new rules around intellectual property (IP) rights online may be set for a parliamentary review, but they will have to wait.

The IP framework brought in by the Digital Economy Act was set to be assessed by the culture, media and sports committee, with written evidence having to be submitted by Wednesday 5 January 2011.

However, following BT and TalkTalk winning a judicial review of the controversial act which was pushed through during the wash-up period of the last government the submission deadline has been extended until Wednesday 23 March 2011 and no public evidence sessions will be held until the judicial review has concluded.

Tom Watson, the Labour MP who confirmed the suspension of the inquiry, told IT PRO: "It's a great shame that the judicial review has delayed our inquiry into the future of intellectual property but it is no surprise the courts have had to intervene."

"The legislation is flawed. Parliament didn't discuss the Digital Economy Bill properly. Peter Mandelson and Jeremy Hunt were told this at the time but they chose to cave in to the lobbyists of the recorded music industry."

"Now we have poorly drafted law that doesn't work for anyone other than copyright lawyers. What a great shame," he added.

The two ISPs have fought against the Digital Economy Act since it was a bill but did not manage to stop it getting the yes vote back in April of this year.

However, early November saw a light at the end of the tunnel for the act's critics when a judicial review was granted. A result is expected when the case is heard between February and April next year.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, praised the review being granted last month, saying: "We are extremely glad that judges will be taking a look at the Digital Economy Act, which we believe breaches people's rights to freedom of expression and privacy."

"The Act is a mess and badly needs repealing. Judicial Review may give the government the chance to drop this heavy-handed approach to copyright enforcement."

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.