Tough measures for file-sharers

The government will get tough on those who persistently download illegal content from the net, Peter Mandelson has announced. The Business Secretary spoke at a government-sponsored debate on copyright issues to say that illegal file-sharing will not be tolerated with persistent offenders facing disconnection from the network. Regular illegal downloader's would be sent two warning letters, with disconnection a "last resort".

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"I have no expectation of mass suspensions. People will receive two notifications and if it reaches the point [of cutting them off] they will have the opportunity to appeal," Mr Mandelson said. "The pay-off for tough penalties against persistent file-sharers would be a more relaxed copyright regime," he added.

Mr Mandelson praised the UK's creative industries, but said that it had "been eroded in recent year by new ways of accessing content ... I was shocked to learn that only one in 20 music tracks in the UK is downloaded legally. We cannot sit back and do nothing."

He emphasised, though, that "legislation and enforcement can only ever be part of the solution," with new and cheaper ways to download the long-term answer.

The French government have already approved a 'three strikes' policy which could see users removed from the network for up to a year. But UK internet service providers argued that they are not responsible for policing the network.

Jean-Bernard Levy, chief executive of Vivendi, a French content and internet service provider, also spoke at the forum to say: "At Vivendi, we are in the content business, we are in the telecom business and there is no internal debate. The priority is not to grow traffic on the ISPs. The priority is that creators, people who develop content, should find a way [to be rewarded]."

Let us know what you think. Is disconnection from the network too harsh, or is it only fair that content providers receive recompense?