The UK Government has ruled out terminating the broadband accounts of people who file-share copyrighted material online.
In a response to a petition on the website for the Prime Minister's office, it said the government "will not terminate the accounts of infringers [as] it is very hard to see how this could be deemed proportionate except in the most extreme — and therefore probably criminal — cases".
The petition, which closed on 8 October 2009, referred to the Digital Economy Bill, petitioning the Prime Minister to "abandon Lord Mandelson's plans to ban individuals from the internet based on their use of 'peer to peer' file sharing".
The Digital Economy Bill has many aspects, a major one of which is a crackdown on unlawful file-sharing that includes potential sanctions such as bandwidth throttling and account suspension. It is currently wending its way through the House of Lords' approval process before going to parliamentarians for further scrutiny.
The Bill does not specifically mention account termination, but is sufficiently vague on its definition of "suspension" for the UK's Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) to have called for further clarification on the matter.
In Australia, copyright infringement via the internet has also been a hot issue. Internet service provider iiNet recently won a court case brought against it by a consortium of film studios which alleged that the provider had authorised its users to breach copyright by uploading and downloading pirated films and television shows. The film industry indicated it would look to the government to help in its fight against copyright infringement.
Recently, however, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that he would prefer the internet and film industries to create a code of conduct than resort to legislation.
For more on the UK Government's Digital Economy Bill, see ZDNet.com.au sister site ZDNet.co.uk.