Government gives Ofcom teeth to bite ISPs

Virgin Media and other leading ISPs will be forced to cut illegal filesharing by Ofcom

The Digital Britain report asks British internet service providers (ISPs) to cut illegal file-sharing amongst their customers by 70 per cent within the year.

Ofcom has been given the teeth to demand that ISPs collate data in order to make persistent illegal downloaders identifiable to rights holders, in order to discourage the sharing of copyrighted material online.

In the government's plans, persistent infringers could see their details passed on to games, music and movie companies – who may then choose to take legal action against persistent copyright thieves.

Government recognises P2P

Ofcom's new ISP-policing role is outlined in the fourth chapter of Lord Carter's hefty 245-page report, entitled "Creative Industries in the Digital World" notes that:

"The government considers online piracy to be a serious offence. Unlawful downloading or uploading, whether via peer-to-peer sites or other means, is effectively a civil form of theft."

However, the report also notes that, "most consumers, except the minority of the anarchic or those who believe in 'freedom to' without its counterbalancing 'freedom from', who believe in unsupported rights without countervailing duties, would prefer to behave lawfully if they can do so practically and with a sense of equity.

"A recent study in Scandinavia has shown that the biggest users of unlawful peer-to-peer material are also the biggest paid-for consumers of music."

For more on Digital Britain see the full, lengthy report right here.