Three strikes rule set to hit British filesharers

October 28, 2009

Three strikes rule set to hit British filesharersBritain’s government has confirmed it is to bring on a “three strikes and you’re off” policy for illegal filesharing. But one ISP has already threatened to launch a legal action against the rules.

After initially rejecting the idea of mandatory disconnections for repeat offenders in a June report, the government changed its mind and launched a consultation in August over proposals that it would bring in such laws. Business minister Peter Mandelson (pictured) now says the rules will go ahead, though he noted, “I have no expectation of mass suspensions.”

The most notable change in today’s announcement is that those who are disconnected will have the right to appeal in the judiciary system. The lack of appeal in initial plans had threatened to breach wider European laws. That same issue has brought a similar policy in France into question.

Under the current timetable, disconnections won’t happen until 2011. Before then, communications regulator Ofcom will monitor the levels of copyright infringement online and see if the industry is able to substantially reduce piracy. If it fails to do so, tougher rules including mandatory disconnection will come into force.

One ISP, Talk Talk, has strongly criticized the plans, saying they risk penalizing innocent users whose wireless connections are hijacked. Other Internet firms say it’s not their place to enforce copyright laws and are particularly disgruntled that they will be forced to pay half the associated costs, with copyright holders paying the rest.

It’s thought the government plans to bring the legislation into effect sometime in the spring. That leaves a tight timetable as the next general election – which pollsters say is likely to lead to a change of government – must take place by 3 June. That means that any delay in the legislative process could mean the plans are unable to go ahead.

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