Digital Economy Act 2010 c. 24

Document type
The DEA 2010 introduced two key procedures aimed at reducing online piracy through the “graduated response” approach – procedures labelled as the “initial obligations” and the “obligations to limit Internet access”. While neither of those became operational through the Act, it is still worth to outline them here.
(1) The first procedure starts with a copyright owner accessing one of the P2P filesharing networks, and attempting to find and download a file to which he owns the copyright. Once he succeeds, he is supposed to record the IP address of the user who made the copyrighted file available, and send it to this user's ISP in the form of a Copyright Infringement Report (CIR). By virtue of s. 3 of the Act, the ISP is then required to forward this CIR to the allegedly infringing user. Should a user receive more than three CIRs, each of them separated from another by a specific period of time, he is to be put on this ISP's “copyright infringement list”. By virtue of s. 4, the copyright owner may demand the ISP to provide him with an anonymous list of all users who reached the threshold by infringing his copyright. Upon receiving the list, the copyright owner may then apply for a court injunction to identify the infringing users and commence infringement proceedings against them.
(2) The second procedure, known as the “obligations to limit Internet access”, is to be implemented only if the Secretary of State decides that the initial obligations regime does not perform sufficiently well in reducing online piracy, after at least a year of operation. This second procedure would impose an obligation on the ISPs to act upon the Internet connection of its subscribers who reached the threshold of CIRs or went above it. This could potentially include measures such as limiting the speed of the connection, preventing the subscriber from accessing certain online services, and (in the ultimate case) suspending the subscriber's connection altogether. However, none of the two procedures has actually been implemented.
(3) The initial obligations code, governing the operational aspects of the discussed procedures, has not appeared yet. Moreover, after a series of setbacks, the UK government announced that the initial obligations regime is to be activated in the second half of 2015.
(4) In addition to the “graduated response” procedures, section 17 of the DEA 2010 provides that the Secretary of State may introduce regulations explicitly providing the courts with an option of granting a blocking injunction against a “location on the internet” (most commonly, a website) which the court sees as “(…) being, or (…) likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright.” The online service provider who received the blocking injunction would have to “prevent its service being used to gain access” such a location. However, such regulations haven’t been established yet, and section 17 itself is potentially a subject to removal within the Draft Deregulation Bill 2013, clause 26 of which proposes omitting sections 17 and 18 of the DEA 2010.
Topic, claim, or defense
Document type
Issuing entity
Legislative Branch
Type of service provider
General or Non-Specified
Issues addressed
Notice Formalities
OSP obligation considered
Block or Remove
Account Termination
Type of law
General effect on immunity
General intermediary liability model
Takedown/Act Upon Knowledge (Includes Notice and Takedown)