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Anti-filesharing laws are go

Digital Queen

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The government will press ahead with plans to restrict internet access for illegal filesharers, it was confirmed in the Queen's Speech today.

As expected, a Digital Economy Bill will aim to compel ISPs to penalise those persistently observed infringing copyright via peer-to-peer networks.

If the overall level of illegal filesharing, as assessed by Ofcom, does not fall by 70 per cent by April 2011 in response to a system of repeated warning letters, provisions in the Bill will be triggered that enforce "technical measures". The most persistent infringers will have their access suspended.

Details of the measures - welcomed today by rights holder organisations including the BPI and the Federation Against Software Theft - are expected on Friday when the Digital Economy Bill will be published in full.

While much of the political chatter in the run up to the Queen's Speech concerned warnings by Conservative peers they would seek to kneecap the government's legislative programme, the Digital Economy Bill may squeeze through before the next election.

The shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has committed the Tories to supporting sanctions against illegal filesharers and has limited criticism to suggestions they should have been brought in quicker.

The cross-party support for the Bill suggests calls by the Open Rights Group for opponents to write to their MPs may be futile.

Also as trailed, the 50p per month levy on every landline to fund rural fibre optic rollout was confirmed today. It will form part of the Finance Bill. The Tories have pledged to scrap the tax if they win the election. ®

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