The government may introduce new legislation to govern the use of peer to peer (P2P) networks for sharing copyright files.
The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) revealed today that the government may legislate to outlaw the use of P2P to share unlicensed copyright material.
"Legislation is among the options being considered," said a spokeswoman.
BERR today published a summary of responses to a consultation on how to deal with illegal file sharing. Communications minister Stephen Carter said, "We received some opposing views on other issues, including regulation, reflecting the fact that this is a complex and challenging problem.
"We are now examining what the best way forward is and will set out the next steps in the interim Digital Britain report later this month."
He said the responses pointed to a consensus on the need to educate consumers about the economic importance of copyright material and the damaging effect file sharing has on Britain's creative industries.
"We have also seen agreement on the need for legal content to be innovative, attractive and easily-accessible. And it is clear that consumers' concerns about data protection and privacy must be addressed."
The department launched the consultation on unlawful peer to peer file sharing and its impact on the British arts and entertainment industries last summer in response to a recommendation of the 2006 Gowers review of intellectual property. It called for evidence on the issues involved and invited views from rights holders, internet service providers (ISPs), consumer organisations and the public on options to tackle the problem.
The government's co-regulatory proposal would have given legal footing to an industry code of conduct agreed by the rights holders and ISPs.