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