Illegal Downloaders May Face Internet Cut-off in the U.K.

The U.K. has joined France in trying to crack down on illegal downloading by instituting a policy whereby consumers found to repeatedly illegally download copyrighted material would have their Internet access suspended. This has commonly been called a "three strikes" policy, as usually the proposal is to give the offender three chances before suspending their access.

Earlier, the U.K. had planned to restrict broadband speed, not total access. While that provision remains under the new proposal, it has been joined by a new provision which includes the possibility of blocking access completely.

The measure will come up for a vote in Parliament in November. If passed, the U.K. would join France in attempting to cut off Internet access for repeat illegal downloaders.

However, France's law ran afoul of a French court, which ruled after the bill's passage in May that a court could rule Internet access to be cut off. This is in concert with a European Parliament ruling in May which prohibits EU members from disabling an end user's broadband service without a court order.

It would be expected that a U.K. law, if passed, would face the same consequences: a court battle that it would probably lose. At the same time, however, France is planning to re-write its aforementioned bill, so perhaps there is some middle ground.

Late last year in the U.S., the RIAA announced it would no longer pursue lawsuits against repeat offenders, but would instead work with ISPs on developing a "three-strikes" policy. Some ISPs have been cooperating, but at the same time some have objected to being turned into police, while others have said they would send warnings, but would never disable Internet access (AT&T is an example).
Tags:  U.K., Internet, P2P, France