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Government delays file-sharing action

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The government's Digital Britain report has indicated that Ofcom may get stronger powers to fight illegal file sharing over the internet, but only as a last resort.

The report said that the music and film content industries are currently facing "significant" challenges from online piracy.

To combat this, the document has outlined a series of measures for greater action, with the aim of reducing file sharing by 70% over a 12 month period.

Media regulator Ofcom will oversee the drive for ISPs to notify account holders in an "agreed format" about infringement of copyright. Service providers will also be encouraged to make data more freely available in cases of legal action against repeat offenders.

Alongside this, the government will introduce more "widespread education" of internet users to address the "confusion over what is/is not lawful"

However, if the 70% reduction target is not reached in the 12 month trial period, then Ofcom will be given a range of Statutory Instruments as last gasp solutions.

These include blocking of site, IP, URL, protocol or ports, as well as user bandwidth capping and shaping, and content identification and filtering.

In response to the report, director general of the British Video Association Lavinia Carey expressed her "disappointment" that more stringent measures are not coming straight away.

"The 2009 Digital Entertainment Survey, published last week by Wiggin LLP, indicates that simply sending warning letters would deter less than a third of those who illegally file-share, meaning the government is set to fall short of its target to reduce online copyright theft by 70-80% in two to three years," she explained.

"If the government [is] serious about meeting that target they must take effective action now."

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