Committee (3rd Day) (Continued)

Part of Digital Economy Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 18th January 2010.

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Photo of Lord de Mauley Lord de Mauley - Shadow Minister (Also Shadow Minister for Universities and Skills), Shadow Minister, - Shadow Minister (Also Shadow Minister for Children, Schools and Families), Shadow Minister 9:15 pm, 18th January 2010

The noble Lord raises an interesting question on how far into the future a subscriber should be held to account for past infringements. I agree with him that there are many benefits in keeping the period from detection to notification as short as possible. It is fairly clear that if a subscriber has not received a notification letter for his first detected infringement, he will not take steps to stop future infringement or prevent others from infringing on his account. How could he? It is surely axiomatic that there is a high risk that he will continue to have infringement reports laid against his account and might become liable for a second or third letter, or future action before he even receives the first letter. Indeed, he may very well never receive it.

That is both unfair and ineffective, and the code should seek to prevent such a situation developing. I would go further than the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and suggest that not only is the time between detection and the infringement report important, so is the time between detection and any consequent notification letter. A letter is likely to have far more impact on a subscriber if it relates to a recent infringement, and the impression that one can breach copyright with immunity is likely to be dispelled that much more quickly. It is also true that if a letter is received long after the event it will surely be interpreted as an indication that the sender is not serious.