Summary:

Under new proposals from the British media regulator Ofcom, internet providers will start sending warning letters to those accused of illegal filesharing in 18 months — and will be forced to handed people’s data over to copyright holders after three successive hits.

British judge's court gavel with flag
photo: Andrey Burmakin / Shutterstock

The British media regulator Ofcom has outlined its plans for tackling illegal filesharing — with a full “three strikes” policy for U.K. internet users finally set to come into force in 2014.

Under the proposals, which were published on Tuesday, Ofcom says British ISPs would have to send warning letters to those individuals pinpointed by music, film and TV companies as potential illegal downloaders. Anyone receiving three letters in a 12-month period would then have their personal data, downloading and filesharing history handed over to the copyright owners to help them prepare a legal case.

The rules are largely the same as those previously published by Ofcom in 2010, with some minor alterations. The law will apply to any ISP with more than 400,000 customers, and copyright owners must file their complaints within one month of gathering evidence of illegal activity. Those accused will get 20 days to appeal against the complaint, at a cost of £20 ($31) — which is refunded if the appeal is successful.

Despite the fact that the draft code is being published today, and is expected to be passed into law later this year, the system will not be implemented until March 1, 2014.

It’s already been a long slog for proponents of the law and its opponents. The prospect of a three strikes policy in the U.K. has been hanging over the internet industry for several years, and formed one of the most controversial elements of the Digital Economy Act in 2010.

Since then British internet providers had attempted — and failed — to get the three strikes rules quashed, largely on the grounds of expense. But the move looked inevitable following a court ruling in March.

They have won some concessions, however: under the draft code, rightsholders will meet up to 75 percent of the cost of action, but they will still have to collect and retain significant amounts of data on users.

Gavel photograph: Andrey Burmakin / Shutterstock

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