So within hours of me posting my last criticism of the Digital Economy Act, Ofcom publish its draft code of conduct to deal with copyright infringement. It contains good news and bad news! The good news is that initially, the code will only apply to ISPs with over 400,000 subscribers - so even if a University is defined as an ISP, we won't be covered by it. Of course, if our internet provider, JANET were to be defined as an ISP, that would be a different story. The bad news is that this is only the initial implementation of it - the code includes provision for more ISPs to be added later, and still doesn't really clarify the definitions of ISP and subscriber.
I've been away for the weekend and haven't had time to study it in detail yet, but Andrew Cormack from JANET has posted a very good summary on his blog here.
With my professional hat on, I'm concerned about the effect of this Act on those of us who provide IT Services to Universities, but with a more personal hat on, I am concerned about the path we are being led down of monitoring the use of the internet - particularly for the next generation - our children, and grandchildren. This is being done to protect the interests of a few large entertainment companies who we are told are losing millions of dollars because of illegal downloading. Personally I don't believe those figures - people who download content also buy it. And they will continue to download, finding harder to detect ways to do it. The current copyright laws are wrong - written to protect the printed word - they are not appropriate in this day and age. I've said this before, but listen to Larry Lessig's talk at last year's EDUCAUSE for a great summary of the situation (go to about 27 mins in for the start).
EDIT: since posting this I've been reminded of an excellent TED talk on this topic by Lessig.