The UK’s regulator has taken steps towards implementing a three strikes policy for online copyright infringement in 2011, publishing a draft code of practice for ISPs that sets out a legal framework for tackling piracy.
Ofcom’s proposals would require ISPs to notify subscribers of alleged copyright infringement, and keep a list of the number of notifications sent so copyright holders can take legal action if required, but stop short of proposing that users be cut-off from the Internet.
Subscribers' details would only be passed to rights holders if they receive three notifications of infringements within 12 months.
While the code will initially apply only to ISPs with 400,000 or more subscribers, it could be extended to cover mobile broadband providers if copyright infringement over those networks increases.
ISPs including BT, Talk Talk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange, O2 and the Post Office will be covered from the outset.
Ofcom was required to draft the proposals under the UK’s controversial Digital Economy Act, which was pushed through parliament shortly before a general election in the country, and has since been backed by the new government.
A consultation on the proposals is open until end-July, and Ofcom expects to put the code into practice early next year.
The Republic of Ireland last week became the latest country to implement a three strikes rule, when Eircom – its largest ISP – started writing to subscribers alleged to be infringing copyright through illegal file sharing.
However, doubts over the effectiveness of three-strikes rules were raised in March, when a team of French university researchers found that piracy had actually increased since the country introduced its own policy in September 2009.