UK confirms file-sharing crackdown
29th October, 2009

UK business secretary Peter Mandelson has confirmed persistent illegal file sharers could have their broadband accounts suspended as part of the government’s plan to curb online piracy.

But technical measures to punish pirates will be introduced only if a 15-month campaign of letter writing, backed by the threat of legal action by content owners, fails to reduce online piracy by about 70 per cent. The staged roll-out of the strategy will see Ofcom assess the effectiveness of the warning notification system on cutting illegal filesharing, backed by the threat of legal action by rights holders and content companies, in about April 2011. If the 70 per cent reduction is not achieved the use of technical measures to cut off persistent offenders' web access will be introduced by about July 2011.

If account suspension is introduced, people accused of file sharing will be able to make three appeals before having their broadband cut off for a short period. "It must become clear that the days of consequence-free widespread online infringement are over," Mandelson said, but added that he did not expect "mass suspensions".

Details of how many warnings will be given before account suspension and how long persistent file sharers will be blocked from accessing their broadband at home are still to be determined. The measures will be included in the digital economy bill, which will be introduced next month. They will be accompanied by a review of copyright in the UK, to simplify European content rights and change "almost universally ignored" rules that songs cannot be moved from a computer on to an MP3 player, such as the iPod.

Broadband providers and rights holders will "share the costs" of anti-piracy measures, Mandelson said. Rights holders will have to pay a flat fee per notification of an individual that they have been spotted file sharing. "The aim here is to give rights holders and others the space to invest in and develop new ways of offering content, in the way that people want it, and at a price that makes sense to buyer and seller," he said.

(Source: ATV's News Archive)