UK to follow France and make ISPs police piracy?

Britain is to follow France in making ISPs cut access to users who repeatedly download music or films illegally. The government had given the music and film industries a year to come to a voluntary agreement with ISPs over how to tackle illegal file sharing, but that period expired at the end of 2007.

In leaked reports it seems the government is saying ISPs will face prosecution if they fail to enforce a “three strikes” regime of sanctions against illegal downloaders. In a green paper (draft law) on creative industries out next week ministers will pledge to legislate for action on illegal file. Under the proposals, which will be put out for consultation, Internet users would face escalating punishments.

Anyone suspected of illegal downloading would receive an initial warning e-mail, a suspension of their internet contract for the second infringement and the termination of that contract for the third offence. Broadband companies would be legally required to enforce the regime.

Attempts to introduce self-regulation have proved ineffective. Britain's four biggest internet providers – BT, Tiscali, Orange and Virgin Media – have been in talks with studio and distribution companies in the US for six months to try to agree a voluntary scheme. The Internet Service Providers Association told newspapers it hoped an alternative to statutory enforcement would still prove possible.

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