Two of the UK’s biggest internet providers have lost an appeal over controversial measures to tackle copyright infringement online.

BT and TalkTalk had complained that the legislation was incompatible with European law and put an unfair burden on them to pay the costs of the rights-holders’ crackdown on illicit downloading.

However, earlier today the court of appeal judges – Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Patten – agreed with an earlier high court ruling that the legislation is lawful, bringing to an end almost two years of legal challenges against the legislation by the ISPs.

A spokesman for BT said: “We have been seeking clarification from the courts that the DEA is consistent with European law, and legally robust in theUK, so that everyone can be confident in how it is implemented.

“Now that the court has made its decision, we will look at the judgment carefully to understand its implications and consider our next steps.”

The decision has been welcomed by copyright advocates with the chief executive of the Publishers Association, Richard Mollett saying that he was looking forward to working with the ISPs in implementing the Digital Economy Act.

He added: “Today’s judgment should mean that once and for all BT and TalkTalk recognise that they have to work constructively with rights holders to help deliver an effective and proportionate solution to online copyright infringement.”

The ruling has also given the green light to the government to implement the Digital Economy Act.