Queen's speech outlines tough measures for illegal file sharers
The Government has confirmed its plans to include a three-strike rule in the Digital Economy Bill.
These measures mean people face losing their internet service for illegally downloading copyrighted material such as movies and music.
The measures to curb illegal file sharing were outlined in the Queen’s speech today. However, the Government's proposal for a 50p per month broadband levy on fixed lines was not mentioned.
This measure is expected to be part of the Finance Bill, which is due to become law next year.
The power to cut off the internet services of illegal file sharers has been a hugely controversial proposal. The Government dithered over implementing the draconian penalties until August when Lord Mandleson, secretary of state for business, re-introduced the idea.
At one point it seemed an amendment included as part of the European Union Telecoms reforms would stop government’s introducing such measures.
However, a last-minute compromise meant this safeguard no longer existed, allowing national governments to introduce their own laws regarding illegal file sharing.
The Conservative Party said it would reserve judgement on the rule because the “Government’s proposals on dealing with internet piracy are still not clear”. It also said it was not opposed in principle to service suspension as " a last resort", for illegal downloaders.
A representative for the party said: "We would want to see more done to ensure we don’t get to that position, including education and the encouragement of new commercial models."
But the measure is deeply opposed by internet service providers. Talk Talk has said it would consider a legal challenge if the Government forced it to disconnect customers. However the news was welcomed by rights holders.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry, said: “It is good news for fans of British music that Government is now introducing legislation to tackle illegal downloading.
"The creative sector in the UK needs new measures implemented urgently that address this problem for now and the future if the UK is to lead Europe in giving consumers innovative and high-quality digital entertainment.”
The Government still has to flesh out the bare bones of the proposal. But it is expected to be a two-stage process with people accused of illegal file sharing initially receiving warning letters.
Lord Mandelson has said that people will be allowed a fair hearing. However, John MacKenzie, a lawyer with Pinsent Masons warned that although consumers would have the right to challenge a disconnection it may be they have to exercise this right “after the event."
Have your say. Do you think a three-strikes proposal is a fair way of tackling copyright theft? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
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