Feeds

Publishers scrap over DTI ecommerce initiative extension

Aggravated over aggregators

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Analysis Online publishing could be set for revolution next spring if the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) extends the Electronic Commerce Directive to online service providers.

Such a move would give them the same limited liability as ISPs, which are protected under the current directive if they unwittingly host, transmit or store unlawful content provided by third parties.

An extension would cover hyperlinkers, search engines and content aggregators if they published or linked to litigious third party material that breached UK copyright, defamation and contempt of court laws.

The DTI has launched a consultation on extending the initiative, dividing the business community in the process. Aggregators, such as Reuters, warn the UK’s e-commerce industry is in danger of falling behind the US. It said it’s physically and financially impossible to check the legal situation for all third party content on its feeds. Yahoo! stressed a clear and balanced notice & takedown regime is urgently needed and the unclear legal liability has hindered aggregators’ expansion.

The anti-lobby includes music rights organisations, which fear damaged revenues and inadvertent protection of illegitimate service providers selling pirate material. The regional press responded that it could undermine intellectual property rights and reduce licensed copying royalties. While they have contracts with aggregators, they said there would be no financial redress for search engines.

Third party content is a key component at Reuters, which aggregates market news, prices and financial data. It says the UK regime must be modernised to provide a “reasonable and workable environment for online publishers”.

Henry Manisty, Reuter’s head of government and public affairs, points out that under the Communications Decency Act and associated cases, US law already provides that online aggregators are not liable for third party content.

He says: "If the UK wants to remain competitive as a centre for online publishing it must provide equivalent protection for content aggregators. To put it into context, we update our content 23,000 times per second at peak market periods. Our systems provide sophisticated data error checking, but it’s clearly impossible for us to pre-vet all third party information, and it’s completely unreasonable that we should be liable for it. Also, if we delayed the publication of market sensitive information to check compatibility with civil or criminal laws, we could be in breach of financial services regulations that require market sensitive data to be disseminated swiftly."

Some European countries have already taken steps to protect such businesses. Susan Singleton, editor of IT Law Today, says: "Austria, Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Liechtenstein have already extended their e-commerce laws to reduce potential liability and to cover service providers, such as Google."

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.