Karoo, the internet service provider that came under fire for its automatic disconnection of suspected file-sharers, has decided it will only cut off the service if a court orders it to do so.
The Hull-based ISP is an unique case, as it operates in a region in the UK that is not served by BT, leaving it with no competitors. In July, Karoo came under scrutiny for its policy of automatically cutting off service to suspected copyright infringers among its customers. In response to that scrutiny, it adopted a 'three-strikes' policy, saying it would send alleged file-sharers three warnings before disconnecting them.
On Wednesday, the company confirmed it has changed its approach, and that the three-warning system will now not automatically be followed by an end to service.
"We will provide customers with up to three written notifications to make them aware that a copyright owner has alleged that their internet account has been used to infringe their copyrighted material, and that the copyright owner may wish to take further action," the ISP said in a statement. "These letters do not accuse the customers of any wrongdoing and will offer help and support, so that those customers whose internet access is being used unknowingly are able to address it."
Karoo added that it will now follow UK industry practice in its procedures.
"If the copyright owner obtains an order from the court requiring us to take any action, we will comply with the terms of the order. Our new policy, whilst still taking the issues of copyright infringement and illegal internet activity seriously, reflects the approach taken by many ISPs," Karoo said.
The issue of how to deal with suspected file-sharers of illegal content was covered by the government's Digital Britain report in June. Lord Carter, the report's author, suggested that bandwidth reduction, protocol blocking and other technical measures should be considered, if warning letters from ISPs continue to be ignored.
However, these measures will only come into force if a year-long written warning trial phase — yet to begin — fails to stop at least 70 percent of recipients from file-sharing.
ISPs have so far proven loath to cut off their users, despite longstanding pleas from many within the content creation industries. Some European politicians have tried to have extrajudicial disconnections explicitly banned at an EU-wide level. However, the European Commission has said such a move would be unnecessary, as national laws already ensure users cannot be cut off without court orders.