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BT hauls Digital Economy Act back to court

Last chance for telco to slay the beast

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The Court of Appeal has today granted BT permission to appeal against the High Court’s judicial review of the Digital Economy Act. BT had attempted to get sections of the Act repealed in the High Court, but saw most of its arguments thrown out in April. It won a minor point on costs, but the five cornerstones of its argument were rejected.

In May, BT and co-litigator TalkTalk said they would appeal, but this was rejected in June. The Pirate Party, and taxpayer-funded quango Consumer Focus, which is due to be abolished, are also petitioning for a review.

The High Court judge, Mr Justice Kenneth Parker, was particularly damning about the ISPs' challenge, repeatedly indicating that the DEA had not said what the ISPs thought it said. He also pointed out the new Act was fairer than the status quo, pointing to “the tyranny of small decisions that have ruinous economic consequences”.

The appeals stage will be an even higher hurdle for the ISPs, which must now argue that Parker didn’t understand the law. However, he appears to have understood it rather better than the anti-copyright activists.

In July Culture Minister Ed Vaizey had a pop at "the apologists for infringement, those who assert that copyright itself is an outmoded conspiracy, designed to put money into the pockets of corporations at the expense of ordinary people and so called 'real artists'," adding, "Supposedly you can’t be a real artist and make real money."

It used to be dinosaur music companies who preferred expensive litigation to business innovation. Now it’s dinosaur telcos. BT has spent vast sums on fighting the DEA, and its right to defend Newsbinz2, but has yet to launch a music service of its own.

BT's Simon Milner promised us it was working on one in an interview with El Reg in July. This was news to the entire UK music industry.

When we enquired more recently about how it was coming along, nobody at BT knew anything about it. ®

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