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Appeared on: Friday, January 30, 2009
UK Law Will Force ISPs to Pass P2P Data to Right-Holders

The UK government will create legislation forcing internet service providers (ISPs) to gather information on customers engaged in illegal file-sharing, and forcing them to contact repeat offenders warning them that their behavior.

The proposal forms part of an interim report, Digital Britain. The proposed legislation stops short of forcing ISPs to directly disconnect suspected file-sharers.

"Our response to the consultation on peer-to-peer file sharing sets out our intention to legislate, requiring ISPs to notify alleged infringers of rights (subject to reasonable levels of proof from rights-holders) that their conduct is unlawful," reads the report. "We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order. We intend to consult on this approach shortly, setting out our proposals in detail," the report adds.

The law will create a code on unlawful file-sharing which ISPs would have to sign, and whose enforcement would be carried out by media and telecoms regulator Ofcom.

The report also said that this action would provide a good evidence base, to make it easier for rights-holders to take targeted legal action against the most significant infringers.

"International experience of action of this sort suggests that more than two thirds of infringers change their behaviour when receiving notification," the report cintinues. "These obligations will form the central elements of a Code on unlawful file-sharing which Industry would be required to have in place, supported by backstop powers overseen by Ofcom. The Code would cover among other issues practical supporting measures, including appeals and standards of evidence. It would also cover cost-sharing."

The UK government will also create a new rights agency, which would gather together content creators and encourage them to find ways to prevent piracy and ways to make the legal use of their content more attractive.

"We think the concept of a new Rights Agency and legislative action aimed specifically at addressing unlawful peer-to-peer file-sharing could be major steps forward. But thisis new and difficult territory, and we want to get it right. So we will review the impact of any new measures, and will not hesitate to examine other options if these do not prove to be effective."

The report also said that the Digital Britain group will look into whether public subsidies should be used to help extend next-generation broadband networks, and it said that the Government was committed to ensuring that broadband penetration reached the whole of the UK by 2012.

The plan to give every household broadband access by the 2012 Olympic Games in London is part of a new strategy, which includes upgrading radio from analogue to digital.

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