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Ofcom unveils Digital Economy Act proposals

Alex Scroxton
Only fixed-line ISPs with customer bases larger than 400,000 will be initially subject to the conditions on copyright infringement laid down in the Digital Economy Act 2010, Ofcom has proposed.

This means that the seven largest ISPs in the UK, BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange, O2 and the Post Office would be covered at first.

However, in its statement Ofcom said it was the government's intention to put out a clear message that should levels of copyright infringement on other networks increase, then those ISPs will be obliged to fall in line.
The draft code of practice, released Friday, sets out how and when ISPs will be obliged to notify subscribers that they are suspected of copyright infringement, and is expected to come into force in early 2011.

Ofcom will require ISPs to record the number of notifications sent to subscribers and maintain an anonymous list of serial infringers. Copyright holders will be able to request information from this list and pursue a court order to identify serial offenders.

The watchdog proposed a three stage notification process for ISPs to inform infringers, with those that have received three notifications in a year potentially liable to be included on any list requested.

Ofcom's proposals are likely to fuel further debate on the matter of IP infringement and theft. As  reported earlier in the year TalkTalk has already vowed to "battle these oppressive proposals", whilst organisations such as the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) have been equally vocal in their support for the measures.

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