Government backs down on plans to block file-sharing sites


Government backs down on plans to block file-sharing sites

Simon Quicke

Proposals to block illegal filesharing websites have been dropped by the government because attempts to stop users downloading illegal software and music were deemed to be unworkable.

But Vince Cable, the business secretary, has pledged to take some form of action to bring down piracy sites as he unveiled the government's response to the Hargreaves Review.

The Hargreaves Review, tasked with looking at how to protect intellectual property and copyright  in the digital age, made a range of recommendations and followed on from the Digital Economy Act, which had included a scheme to block file-sharing sites.

At the same time as dismissing the web site blocking ideas in the Digital Economy Act there were moves to accept some of the Hargreaves recommendations including allowing users to make copies of music and other media for personal use.

"Following advice from blocking will not be brought forward at this time. However, the Government is keen to explore the issues raised by Ofcom's report and will do more work on what other measures can be pursued to tackle online copyright infringement," stated the official response to the Hargreaves Report.

The government's response to Hargreaves stressed that the decision to change course over the site-blocking plans did not mean it would not take any action in the meantime.

"The issue of online infringement of both copyright and (through sale of fake goods) trade marks is a pressing one for many firms. The Government will continue to
devote effort to deterring IP infringement online (including through implementation of the Digital Economy Act) and offline, as its partners do," it stated.

There was also a further call for help in identifying where the finite resources the government has at its disposal should be used in the piracy fight.

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