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INDUSTRY UK

Ofcom sets guidelines of internet service providers

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- Regulatory body proposes warning letters for copyright infringers

Ofcom sets guidelines of internet service providers

Ofcom, the UK communications regulator that regulates the television and radio sectors, fixed line telecoms, mobiles, postal services, and the airwaves over which wireless devices operate, has issued a draft code for consultation that would require large internet service providers (ISPs) to inform customers of allegations that their internet connection has been used to infringe copyright.

The code will initially cover ISPs with more than 400,000 broadband-enabled fixed lines – currently BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Sky, TalkTalk Group and Virgin Media. Together these providers account for more than 93% of the retail broadband market in the UK. The draft code requires ISPs to send letters to customers, at least a month apart, informing them when their account is connected to reports of suspected online copyright infringement. If a customer receives three letters or more within a 12-month period, anonymous information may be provided on request to copyright owners showing them which infringement reports are linked to that customer’s account. The copyright owner may then seek a court order requiring the ISP to reveal the identity of the customer, with a view to taking legal action for infringement under the Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988.

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When notifying customers of reported infringements, ISPs must explain the steps subscribers can take to protect their networks from being used to infringe copyright and tell them where they can go to find licensed content on the internet.

Ofcom’s Claudio Pollack said, “Ofcom will oversee a fair appeals process, and also ensure that rights holders’ investigations under the code are rigorous and transparent.”

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