UK MPs Plan to ban P2P users

UK MPs Plan to ban P2P users

MPs want to bring in laws to force ISPs to cut off people who download copyright music and movies

People who illegally download music or movies would be banned from using the internet under new Government proposals.

According to a report seen by the Times, in order to protect copyright holders, MPs plan to legislate against illegal file-sharing.

The idea under the Green Paper on the creative industries, The World’s Creative Hub, is to force internet service providers (ISPs) to impose a "three strikes and you're out" rule on their customers.

For a first offence offenders will receive a warning email, those that ignore this and warrant a second warning will have their internet connection temporarily suspended.

If they persist and have to be warned a third time the punishment will be to have their internet contract terminated. How long a ban would last is not clear. ISPs that refuse to cooperate could also be prosecuted and forced to hand over suspected customers' details to the courts.

However, although the proposals have been welcomed by the entertainment industry, which has accused ISPs of only paying lip service to the issue of copyright theft, others have criticised them as unworkable.

The Internet Services Providers Association (ISPA) said the proposals do not take into account the technical practicalities and other laws ISPs have to abide by such as the Data Protection and Human Rights Acts.

There is also the scale of the problem; there are 13.3 million people in the UK who have a broadband connection, according to Ofcom's latest figures. Of this it is estimated around one in three (29 per cent) have at some point knowingly or unwittingly downloaded illegal files. Many of these downloaders are teenagers and most do not believe they are committing a crime.

The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) told us it was only a conduit and it could not and should not police the internet: It said: "[The] ISPA does not support abuses of copyright and intellectual property theft.

"However, ISPs cannot monitor or record the type of information passed over their network. We are currently in talks with the Motion Picture Association of America and liaise with government on this issue."

The response from ISPs we contacted was similar in tone; they all said they did what they could to stop customers from illegal downloading and talked to the industry and Government about the best ways of achieving this.

A Virgin Media representative said: "As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media takes the subject of illegal downloads very seriously. We hope to work towards a solution that meets the needs of all parties."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport refused to comment on the reported proposals except to say they had formed part of an earlier draft.

In a statement it said: "The content and proposals for the strategy have been significantly developed since then and a comprehensive plan to bolster the UK's creative industries will be published shortly."