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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
UK Proposes New P2P File-Sharing Legislation

The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport is considering legislating to tackle the problem of unlawful peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing.

The proposed legislation would introduce two obligations to be imposed on ISPs by UK media regulator Ofcom to send notifications to subscribers alleged by rights holders to be infringing copyright, and to monitor the number of notifications each subscriber is associated with. In addition, the UK ISPs would then make this data available to rights holders on receipt of a court order.

The UK government also proposed a mechanism whereby Ofcom would be granted reserve powers to oblige ISPs to utilize specified technical measures against repeat infringes should these two obligations prove to be deficient in reducing infringement.

The UK government is accepting proposals in order create a robust and effective legislation that could represent "the most effective way in dealing with unlawful file-sharing." In addition, providing that measuring unlawful P2P activity across a range of networks and different content is extremely difficult, new technical measures should be introduced that would measure unlawful activity with precision, the government said.

The original proposal (July) listed six technical measures that Ofcom might require ISPs to impose on repeat infringers. Since the issue of the consultation some stakeholders have argued strongly that none of those technical measures was powerful enough to have a significant deterrent effect on infringing behavior. Taking those points into account, the UK government is considering the case for adding suspension of accounts into the list of measures that could be imposed. "This does not necessarily mean that suspension would be used - this step would obviously be a very serious sanction as it would affect all members of a household equally, and might disrupt access to other communications, so it should be regarded as very much a last resort," reads the announcement of the UK Department for business Innovation & Skills (BIS).

The UK government is expecting to consider responses in time to take account appropriately of views and evidence in the construction of the legislation. The deadline for these responses is the 29th of September 2009.

Governments around the world have been trying to find a solution to the problem of Internet piracy, with varying levels of success.

A law backed by French president to cut Internet access to those found guilty of downloading music illegally has already been watered down by France's top constitutional court and a vote has been delayed until September.

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