Illegal downloaders could be banned from internet

Proposed new law could revoke online privileges

People who download music illegally could be banned from the internet under plans currently being considered by the UK government.

Ministers are examining a scheme that would mean anyone in the UK would be denied access to their internet service provider if they were caught with files containing pirated copies of songs and films.

The proposals appeared in a leaked draft Green Paper – a consultation document issued by the government when it is considering new legislation – and would involved UK internet users being given "three strikes" before having their online access terminated.

First offenders would be warned by email, then their accounts would be suspended after which they contracts with their service provider would be cancelled.

Internet providers who failed to uphold the proposed law could be prosecuted too.

According to The Times, some ISPs had already been looking into a voluntary code, although there has been no agreement so far as no decision on how to settle disputes has been arranged.

Although attempts to come to an agreement are still ongoing, the Green Paper says the government will "move to legislate to require internet service providers to take action on illegal file-sharing."

Responding to the early draft proposals leaking, a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media And Sport told The Times:

"Early drafts of our creative economy programme document were circulated to stakeholders for comment. 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. We will not comment on the content of the leaked document."

Music industry body IFPI welcomed the possible idea though, insisting ISPs needed to take responsibility for illegal downloads.

“The tide of opinion is flowing in favour of ISP responsibility," said John Kennedy chairman and chief executive of IFPI. "News of the UK government’s proposed consultation paper is very welcome and we hope for swift action from ISPs to disconnect persistent serious copyright infringers."

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