BT and TalkTalk have lost an appeal over controversial measures to tackle copyright infringement online.
The internet service providers (ISPs) had argued the UK’s Digital Economy Act was incompatible with EU law.
The Act will mean ISPs will have to send warning letters to alleged illegal file downloaders, as well as potentially cutting users off.
The creative industry argues that piracy costs £400m a year in lost revenue.
The firms’ lawyers said the stricter measures could result in an invasion of privacy and run up disproportionate costs for both ISPs and consumers.
In a statement, TalkTalk said it was now “considering our options”.
“We’re disappointed that our appeal was unsuccessful though we welcome the additional legal clarity that has been provided for all parties,” the company said.
“Though we have lost this appeal we will continue fighting to defend our customers’ rights against this ill-judged legislation.”
The decision was welcomed by copyright advocates.
Christine Payne, general secretary of the Actors’ union Equity, called on the ISPs to “stop fighting and start obeying the law”.
“Once again the court is on the side of the almost two million workers in the creative industries whose livelihoods are put at risk because creative content is stolen on a daily basis,” she said.
Adam Rendle, a copyright specialist at international law firm Taylor Wessing, said he expected BT and TalkTalk to now appeal to the Supreme Court.
He added that it was also likely the companies would step up lobbying efforts, perhaps harnessing support from groups recently protesting against the US Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the EU’s proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta).
“We know how keen internet users are to protect what they see as freedom of speech,” Mr Rendle told the BBC.
“When the Digital Economy Act itself was passed in the dying stages of the Labour government, there was a huge amount of disquiet that this kind of important legislation was being introduced without proper scrutiny.
“That kind of disquiet didn’t result in the kind of action we’ve seen against Acta and Sopa. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a lot more public outcry than there was when the Act was first passed.”
Via: BBC News