The decision was welcomed by the industry groups, but criticised by the UK's Pirate Party, whose leader pointed to the lack of evidence that the law would have any positive effects. A UK copyright specialist noted that the ISPs may still appeal the decision to the UK's Supreme Court, seeking a reference to the Courts of Justice of the European Union, and wondered if the law could now attract the same attention from the Internet as SOPA and ACTA.
The law is still some way from being implemented, and the first notifications are not expected to be sent to alleged file-sharers before 2013, and the next steps could also be open to a legal challenge.
Following a 1999 libel case, it has generally be understood that service providers such as Google are publishers of the content on their systems, and lose any immunity they have as soon as they are warned the content is defamatory, leading to an extra-judical take-down system.
In this case, where Google was being sued by a UK politician over allegedly defamatory comments on a Blogger post, the Judge held that the hosts were not even publishers and so not liable at all. Going further, Mr Justice Eady commented that even if Google were a publisher, they would not be liable as being notified that the comments may be defamatory was not enough to count as "actual knowledge." Google could not be expected to assess whether or not each statement was defamatory, or defensible.
This ruling marks a welcome, if subtle, change in the law. It should reduce the chilling effect of libel threats on UK-based service providers, as they may no longer be required to remove content or face substantial legal costs themselves."
Grumbleduke writes: During today's debate in the UK's House of Lords on the much-criticised Digital Economy Bill the unpopular Clause 17 (that would have allowed the government to alter copyright law much more easily than it currently can) was voted out in favour of a DMCA-style take-down system for websites and ISPs. The new amendment (known as 120A) sets up a system whereby a copyright owner could force an ISP to block certain websites who allegedly host or link to infringing material or face being taken before the High Court (and made to pay the copyright owner's legal fees). This amendment was tabled by the Liberal Democrat party who had so far been seen as the defenders of the internet and reason and with the Conservative party supporting them passed by 165 to 140 votes. The UK's Pirate Party and Open Rights Group have both strongly criticised this new amendment.
The Bill is currently in Report stage in the House of Lords, and will then and will then have to pass through the (elected) House of Commons. The government has indicated its desire to push through the legislation before the upcoming election.