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Gov't: illegal file-sharers won't be disconnected

Intellectual Property Minister says scheme is too complex to enforce

Illegal file-sharers will not have their web-access terminated if they continue to participating in the unlawful-activity, says the government.

A 'three-strikes' rule, which would see illegal file-sharers issued with a warning letter about their activities, followed by suspension and even termination of their internet connection, if they continue to offend, was proposed last year by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Although, ISPs were initially not convinced the move was the way forward, within months the BPI and six of the UK's largest ISPs, including BT and the Carphone Warehouse, signed an agreement to issue illegal file sharers with warning letters. Virgin Media took a pro-active approach to the problem and issued warning letters to 800 of its customers before the agreement had been singed.

It was thought the government would back the proposal in the Digital Britain report by Communications Minister Lord Stephen Carter, which was initially due out last week but has since been delayed . However, Intellectual Property Minister David Lammy, has told The Times the government has ruled out the proposal due to complex procedures to enforce the scheme.

"I'm not sure it's actually going to be possible," he said.

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Lammy said there was a difference between music pirates and "younger people not quite buying into the system".

"We can't have a system where we're talking about arresting teenagers in their bedrooms. People can rent a room in an hotel and leave with a bar of soap - there's a big difference between leaving with a bar of soap and leaving with the television."

It is though that Carter will suggest creating a "rights agency" funded by ISPs to address the problem, as well as an additional charge on broadband bills, that would go to the music industry.

See also: 95% of online music downloads are illegal

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