Ofcom outlines 'three strikes' file-sharing clampdown code

Ofcom proposes its file-sharing proposal
Ofcom proposes its file-sharing proposal

Ofcom has confirmed that it will be looking at a 'three strikes' process to clamp down on illegal file sharing in the UK.

In its 'initial obligations code', Ofcom has highlighted what it wants to happen to illegal file-sharers in the UK, including the sending of notifications to infringers which will come with "easy to understand information on the nature of the allegations made against the subscriber and on what actions a subscriber can take, both to challenge the allegation and to protect their network from being hijacked for the purposes of infringement."

Large ISPs targeted

Ofcom has also suggested that it will not be targeting small and medium-sized ISPs with its new code. But if there is persistent file sharing going on, then these consideration will be given to "bringing these providers within the scope of the Code".

For an ISP to adhere to the proposed code, it will have to have 400,000 subscribers or more.

Ofcom has pointed out, though, that big ISPs make up 96 per cent of the UK market. Essentially this means that the copyright code will affect 96 per cent of the population with an internet connection.

Another set of ISPs which are excluded are mobile providers, with Ofcom noting: "Mobile operators are initially excluded, due in part to current mobile technologies being less conducive than fixed for copyright infringement. However, we will review, on a regular basis, whether to extend coverage of the code."

Making a list

At the heart of this code is similar to what is happening in Ireland at the moment – it's the dreaded three-strikes rule.

As Ofcom states: "We set out a three-stage notification process for informing subscribers of infringements through notifications and propose that subscribers, following receipt of a third notification, may be included in a copyright infringement list requested by a Copyright Owner.

In short: if you get caught three times, your information, including IP address, the number of times an infringement has been logged and your name, will be shipped over to the companies you are stealing the music from.

Interestingly, nowhere on the document does it talk of banning infringers from the web. It's more a case of turning their information over to the relevant people and then legal action will take place.

As with everything Ofcom does, a consultation is taking place and will be running until 30 July. for more information, go to: www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/copyright-infringement.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.