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UK Government intensifies battle against illegal file sharing.

The Federation Against Software Theft : 24 January, 2008  (Technical Article)
ISP companies are likely to feel the brunt of tighter enforcement on illegal file sharing according to the Federation Against Software Theft.
The Federation Against Software Theft (The Federation) has applauded the latest announcement from Lord Triesman, the Minister for Intellectual Property, that the Government is set to turn the heat up on ISP's in the fight against illegal file-sharers.

John Lovelock, Chief Executive of The Federation, said: "We warned in October of last year that unless the ISP's themselves took voluntary action against the file sharers the Government would step in and force them. It now appears that the Government is ready to consider new legislation in the next Queen's speech in November.

"This is the first time that he has given an actual timetable. As an enforcement body The Federation welcomes the fact that the government is now willing to take IP theft more seriously. However we also recognise that Government regulation should be a last resort and ISPs would reap the benefits of taking matters into their own hands."

The Federation argued in November, whilst accepting it may be difficult to monitor content, ISP's can do the following:.

* Close accounts where advised by rights holders, or representative bodies such as The Federation, of evidence of illegal activity.
* Compile a register on customers investigated by rights holders or representative bodies where illegal activity found.
* Provide customer details to rights holders or their representative bodies where it can be demonstrated that illegal activity has been conducted, instead of compelling them to take court action.

His comments refer to a recent speech made by Lord Triesman and follows on from the Gowers Review into intellectual property in 2006 which made a clear recommendation that unless the industry adopts a policy of self regulation then the Government may be forced to legislate (recommendation 36 of the Gowers Review).

Lovelock believes if it is made known to ISPs that a customer is using their service for illegal activity, they need to take robust action.

"It is entirely within the power of the ISPs to draw up a contract of acceptable use for all of their customers. This should include an ISP blacklist - even a register of blacklisted customers. We know that the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) has always maintained that it cannot be held responsible for illegal peer-to-peer traffic because it is '…merely a conduit…' of such material."

But Lovelock believes if it comes to protecting themselves from financial loss, they'll soon find a way. "It's a simple choice really. Either the ISPs come up with a workable strategy for self regulation or they may be burdened with additional costs as enforcement bodies like The Federation haul them through the courts," he said.

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