Digital rights agency could force ISPs to reveal customer details

A new Digital Rights Agency may force internet service providers to provide the names and addresses of customers to copyright owners if they are suspected...

A new Digital Rights Agency may force internet service providers to provide the names and addresses of customers to copyright owners if they are suspected of infringement.

Among the possible acts such an agency could ask for are requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to notify alleged infringers and take down their access, and to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers. This would be available to rights-holders, together with personal details on receipt of a court order.

The proposal is contained in a discussion document on the formation of a digital rights agency to oversee online copyright usage published by the UK Intellectual Property Office last week

Launching the debate last week, communications ministers Stephen Carter & David Lammy said the government was determined to stop illegal peer to peer file-sharing. It preferred the industry to come up with solutions, but it was determined to pass the required legislation.

"If there isn't evidence of a real commitment from industry by the time we legislate, then we will have to consider whether the legislation should go further in what it requires, with less opportunity to influence how this can be done in an effective, flexible, pragmatic (and fair) way," they said.

From yesterday ISPs have had to collect data about who sends and receives messages via the internet under the European Data Retention Directive.

The document is a sequel to a section in the Digital Britain interim report (Actions 11, 12 and 13) that deals with copyright protection online. Responses to the Digital Britain interim report will be the subject of a separate upcoming consultation that will be guided by responses to the digital rights agency discussion.

The closing date for comment is 30 March.

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