UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom retained us to help understand the costs to ISPs of complying with their obligations under the Digital Economy Act. This act makes provision for digital rights holders to send Copyright Infringement Requests (CIRs) to ISPs. The ISPs have an obligation to process these CIRs, hold them on a database, make appropriate contact with customers, field customer enquires, and – as a last resort – send the contact details of repeat infringers to the rights owners.
The costs incurred by the ISPs in implementing these systems should be shared between the ISPs and rights holders in a way deemed appropriate by Ofcom. But before it could decide on an appropriate cost sharing regime, Ofcom needed to understand what the costs to ISPs would be. They selected us to do this for them.
The work involved detailed discussions with the UK’s major ISPs over several months. Each ISP had different existing IT systems, and so their plans varied accordingly. We needed to make sure as far as possible that we were comparing ‘apples with apples’. We also had to ensure that each ISP was only counting those costs that were allowable under the Act, and that they were including all required activities. Our final report showed the average costs to ISPs, the costs of a hypothetical efficient ISP, and the costs of the most efficient real ISP.