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Urgent response needed to protect sector at risk of online copyright infringement

Museums, libraries and archives offering public internet access could be liable to serious financial, reputational and legal costs if online copyright infringements are found.

The recent consultation on the Draft Initial Obligations Code has set out for the sector how the provisions of the Digital Economy Act about online copyright infringement will be interpreted and enforced by Ofcom. However, there remains uncertainty under which legal category the sector would fit into, leaving the sector vulnerable to risks. To mitigate these risks, The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), the British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) have produced a number of briefing documents and templates to help the sector understand the Act and Ofcom's new code of practice and ways to respond to the consultation.

The MLA urges the sector to respond to the current Ofcom consultation on the implementation of the Digital Economy Act by 31 July 2010, to ensure that the implications for the sector of the legislation and code of practice are clearly understood by decision-makers.

Roy Clare, MLA Chief Executive, said: "MLA encourages libraries to respond urgently (by the end of this month) to the Ofcom consultation on its draft code of practice. The Digital Economy Act is complex, hastily enacted, and perhaps not drafted with the library user high in mind. There is thus a risk of an unintended consequence, namely interference with the vital role libraries have in enabling people freely to access information online. MLA has written to Ministers about this matter and we are continuing to monitor the situation and will keep libraries informed; our goal is to ensure that public intermediaries such as libraries are not burdened with the same restrictions as commercial Internet Service Providers or householders."

Notes to editors:

Please send responses to: or download the template.


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