On 8 March 2017, Mr Justice Arnold sitting in the English High Court granted in favour of The Football Association Premier League Limited (“FAPL”) the country’s first “live” blocking order, requiring internet service providers (“ISPs”) to block, in real-time, servers hosting unauthorised live streams of Premier League football matches. The landscape of technology used by infringers has evolved significantly in recent times. Infringers now often make content available directly to enabled devices rather than via a specific website. This evolution from previous forms of blocking order demonstrates how the English courts are prepared to evolve their thinking in order to track advances in the ways that people seek to infringe IP rights, and is a positive sign for rightsholders.
On 30 March 2017, Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, published its annual plan for financial year 2017/18. It also published its budget and work programme for the year. The changes identified by Ofcom in relation to its responsibilities, markets and technology and the legislative framework under which it operates provide a great snapshot of current industry trends and issues.
Taking these in turn:
On 30 March 2017, the UK’s Department for exiting the European Union published a white paper outlining its proposals for a Great Repeal Bill (GRB). Whilst superficially, this appears to bring clarity to the legal position after Brexit, on closer examination the GRB proposal over-simplifies the position and glosses over the very significant legislative (and consequential business) problems that will arise from the UK’s departure from the EU in the absence of a comprehensive and detailed free trade agreement between the UK and EU to enable many of the existing business arrangements to continue. Whilst much of the press commentary has focused on the impact of Brexit on the financial services sector, the same issue, disruption of existing business models as a result of leaving the single market, arises in almost every other sector of the economy, and certainly in the telecoms, media and technology sectors.
During the 1920s, the BBC’s first General Manager, John Reith set the BBC’s mission as being to:
inform, educate and entertain”.