The government has denied a claim by a minister that the upcoming Communications Bill green paper will include website-blocking requirements for copyright enforcement.
Mark Prisk, the minister of state for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), said on Tuesday that the government was "closely considering whether to block access to websites that infringe copyright". However, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which is actually handling the bill, has said this is not the case.
The government dropped previous plans to bring in the mandatory blocking of commercial-scale copyright-infringing sites last August, just days after the courts set a legal precedent by forcing BT to block access to the Usenet aggregation site Newzbin2.
"Following the Newzbin case, rights holders can already seek injunctions to have ISPs block access to websites dedicated to copyright infringement under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act," a DCMS spokesman said on Friday. "The government will see how useful this ruling is to rights holders, but we have no plans to introduce duplicate legislation."
However, the DCMS spokesman did reiterate that the upcoming green paper would include measures to stop people profiting from piracy. This will include requiring credit card companies to stop the money coming from copyright-infringing activities from getting into the perpetrators' accounts.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced this plan in a speech last September. "I think we need a responsibility on search engines to cooperate in making it more difficult for people to access sites that facilitate unlawful sharing of content. And also we need responsibility on banks and credit card companies to do their bit in trying to make payment processes more difficult for people who are involved in this," Hunt said at the time.
In March last year, before the Newzbin2 case, it emerged that the government was working on a voluntary code of practice for ISPs, that would have them agree to block certain infringing sites.
ZDNet UK has asked BIS to clarify what site-blocking initiative Prisk was referring to this week, but had not received an explanation at the time of writing.