The government will not implement the website blocking provisions of the Digital Economy Act, it has been announced.
A review conducted by media regulator Ofcom found that the legislative provisions – which could have required broadband providers to intervene with pirate websites – would not be viable in their current form.
In light of this, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will not impose website blocking responsibilities on service providers – at least for now.
"Ofcom was also asked to consider whether the site-blocking provisions in the Digital Economy Act would work in practice," a statement read.
"The act contains reserve powers to allow courts to order that websites dedicated to copyright infringement are blocked. The regulator concluded the provisions as they stand would not be effective and so the government will not bring forward the act's site-blocking provisions at this time."
The Ofcom review was commissioned by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt back in February 2011, following concerns about the content of the Digital Economy Act.
Speaking at the time, he said the Con-Lib coalition was looking to create the right conditions for businesses to grow, and this included offering the necessary protections for firms' and individuals' intellectual property.
"The Digital Economy Act seeks to protect our creative economy from online copyright infringement, which industry estimates costs them £400 million a year," Mr Hunt stated.
He said he had "no problem" with the principle of blocking access to websites used exclusively for facilitating illegal downloading of content.
However, the Minister said it was not clear whether the site blocking provisions in the act could work in practice.
With Ofcom ruling that this is not the case, the government faces a dilemma on how to proceed on what is a hugely divisive issue. Further research into the area is now expected.
Just last week, the High Court ruled that BT was required to block access to pirate movie website Newzbin2, a decision immediately derided by open rights campaigners.
However, the creative industries welcomed the ruling, seeing it as a step towards greater protection for copyright material.
As such, the latest development is sure to be seen as a blow by artists, who claim that illegal downloading is leading to a significant loss of revenue for the industry.