Government to introduce bans for illegal downloaders

Internet users who illegally download music and films could lose their internet access under new legislation being drafted by the government.

The Department of Media, Culture and Sport is understood to be working on proposals to make ISPs, such as BT and Virgin Media, legally bound to take action against users who access pirated material. The proposals will be unveiled in the next few weeks.

Under the legislation, users suspected of illegally downloading content will first receive a warning email. If they commit the offence a second time they will receive a suspension from the service and any infringement following this will result in their internet contract being terminated.

ISPs that fail to enforce the rules could face prosecution and the details of suspected customers will be handed over to the courts.

A similar "three strike" system already operates in France and the US, and the government believes it could work successfully in the UK.

Ministers are to make a commitment to legislate with the unveiling of a Green Paper on the creative industries next week, according to a draft copy obtained by The Times.

The paper reads: "We will move to legislate to require internet service providers to take action on illegal file-sharing."

Six million broadband users reportedly illegally download content in the UK every year, costing music and film companies billions of pounds in lost revenue.

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