Ofcom publishes ‘three-strikes’ online copyright code

Ofcom is planning to encourage UK internet users to download films and music legally with a new code that would require large ISPs to inform customers of allegations that their internet connection has been used to infringe copyright.

The media regulator has published a draft code for consultation that it said includes measures to help inform the public and promote lawful access to digital content.

The code would initially cover ISPs with more than 400,000 broadband-enabled fixed lines, which currently includes BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Sky, TalkTalk Group and Virgin Media. 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.

Customers would have the right to challenge any allegation of infringement through an independent appeals body.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said:  “These measures are designed to foster investment and innovation in the UK’s creative industries, while ensuring internet users are treated fairly and given help to access lawful content. Ofcom will oversee a fair appeals process, and also ensure that rights holders’ investigations under the code are rigorous and transparent.”

Tags: Ofcom, UK