The UK government has confirmed it will pursue a plan that could see internet users repeatedly caught engaging in illegal file-sharing have their connections cut off.
Business secretary Lord Mandelson outlined the government's two-stage “legislate and enforce” strategy. In the first stage, letters threatening legal action will be sent to file-sharers, the BBC said.
But if this tactic does not result in a 70% reduction in piracy by about July 2011, the government may introduce technical measures, including disconnecting file-sharers as a last resort.
“It must become clear that the days of consequence-free widespread online infringement are over,” Mandelson said.
Repeated infringers will have their internet speeds progressively slowed before they are eventually disconnected.
Customers cut off from the internet will have 20 days to appeal the decision, through an independent body to be established by commerce regulator Ofcom. If the first appeal is unsuccessful, a second appeal may be made.
Lord Carter had ruled out disconnecting pirates in his Digital Britain report, but Lord Mandelson has long been pushing for a tougher stance.
The new law could be passed by April, Reuters said. Only one in 20 copyrighted songs downloaded in Britain have been paid for, Lord Mandelson claimed.
The proposed bill is similar to a law recently passed in France, over the vehement objections of digital libertarians and left-wing politicians. The French law will see file-sharers disconnected from the internet after three offenses.