BT’s High Court action against DEA to close

BT and TalkTalk’s High Court action against the Digital Economy Act (DEA) will end today, with a judge expected to rule on whether it is unfair in six weeks time.

The firms are arguing that the legislation is unfair and was rushed through parliament. A judge has been hearing submissions from relevant parties over the last three days.

Lawyers for BT and TalkTalk said they are particularly concerned about a clause in the DEA that could force ISPs to suspend the accounts of users suspected of repeatedly infringing copyright.

They argue it could affect innocent internet users and will pass unfair administration costs onto them. Another point of contention is that the onus is on internet users to prove their innocence if they are suspected of copyright infringement.

BIS says the costs will be split between copyright holders, who will pay 75 per cent, and ISPs who will be liable for the rest.

BT and TalkTalk mounted a legal challenge against the act after it was passed during “wash-up” – the period between one parliament being dissolved and another being formed. It was passed last April by 189 votes to 47 after a two hour debate despite public outcry over its possible implications.