UK ISPs must warn alleged pirates, says draft Ofcom code

UK ISPs must warn alleged pirates, says draft Ofcom code

Summary: The U.K.'s communications regulator has outlined how ISPs must inform its alleged file-sharing customers that they could face legal action by rights holders under the U.K.'s anti-piracy law.


Following the introduction of the Digital Economy Act, the U.K.'s anti-piracy law, the prospect of a three-strike system --- or "graduated response" --- was all but inevitable.

Ofcom, the U.K. communications regulator, has released the latest draft proposals outlining how alleged copyright infringers could be notified through "copyright infringement reports."

ISPs would also have to keep records on each subscriber, otherwise known as the "copyright infringement list," to ensure a three-strike system was met.

Internet users, who are suspected of piracy, will be sent a notification letter explaining that their Web activity is being monitored, and informed about ways of finding legal online content, such as through paid services.

Once an Internet user has been placed on the copyright infringement list following three notifications in a year, the regulator outlines how copyright owners will be able to seek a court order to uncover the user's personal details to seek legal action through the courts.

The U.K.'s largest broadband providers --- BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Sky, TalkTalk Group, and Virgin Media --- which account for more than 92 percent of all U.K. broadband customers, will have to adhere to the code once it comes into force.

However, Internet users will be able to appeal each report for a cost of £20 ($31) --- which will be refunded if they are successful.

Ofcom says it expects the first notification letters be sent from "early 2014," an Ofcom spokesperson told ZDNet.

The first notification letters should have been sent back in 2011, but legal battles from BT and TalkTalk who tried to clarify the law delayed the process.

ISPs, who must contribute 75 percent of the cost of running the scheme, could be required to take practical steps against repeat offenders. These measures could include a limited broadband speed, or even suspending a user's account altogether.

Ofcom noted this would require additional legislation, and could only be considered following a year of sending out notification letters.

Ofcom's first draft, released in May 2010 following the passing of the law, has remained vastly unchanged.

The regulator will not only now have the authority to approve or reject how copyright owners gather information on potential infringements, it also says that ISPs would have to inform those allegedly caught downloading illegal content of how many times they have been flagged.

The consultation will go in until July 26, but a separate consultation on cost allocation will run until September 18.

The draft code's next stop is the European Commission, after which the U.K. Parliament must pass the code --- likely to go ahead by the end of this year.


Topics: Browser, Enterprise Software, Piracy, Security, Telcos

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  • I continue to be amazed ...

    how the British MPs kowtowed to a handful of foreign media companies and create such a nightmarish internet regime, all to protect the profits of Time Warner, Sony, BMG, Universal Vivendi, and Disney. Was it just flat-out bribery?
    terry flores
    • +1

      Seems we are doomed to suffer grossly unfair laws just to protect large foreign corporate interests. It does make you wonder whether plain brown envelopes stuffed with cash were passed around.

      However, having met a number of MP's over the years, I'd bet on sheer stupidity rather than bribery. Of course these are not mutually exclusive. So it could be a bit of both. ;-).

      Don't forget, our elected lawmakers often land themselves highly-paid directorships on the board of large multinational companies, once their political careers draw to a close. They may be stupid, but they generally know [i]which side their proverbial bread is buttered[/i], don't they? lol.

      Best wishes, G.
      • Who said life was fair?

        Apart from those who set the rules to keep others down in the first place...

        +1 as well, to you and to Terry.
  • What amazes me is that people believe the 'its refundable' tag.

    Like thats ever going to happen... We all know how 'the check is in the post' works.

    They can accuse me of downloading something without any evidence whatsoever, I pay 20 quid, and they earn interest on it while I prove my innocence - thats if I can.

    F* that, its downright theft - as if making me pay to enjoy my own work isnt bad enough.

    I'm a musician. I dont care if the world wants to listen to my music for free, its in my best interests as the real money isnt in the music, its in my brand anyway. This isnt about control of content, its about making a fast buck.
  • Toadying

    In my opinion, Mr. Mandelson (I refuse to call him "Lord") has got a lot to answer for. Coincidence was it that he just happened to be fraternising with some entertainment industry honcho just before this bill came out and was then rushed headlong through parliament with indecent haste and very little discussion? So much for democratic process. The man wasn't even an elected member of the government.
  • Idiots

    From what I can see, your politicians are a collective gaggle of dipsh!t$ just like here in the U.S. And BTW, you can thank Hollywood U.S.A. for this big mess. They're the greedy ones that bought and paid for our politicians.
    Yep, the U.S. has the finest politicians money can buy.....
    • I had no idea Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, GE, etc, are from Hollywood...

      But if you can show how Hollywood actors have more influence compared to big corporate lobbyists, people might believe you in return.

      Until then, all people can do is snicker at your unsubstantiated spin.