A proposed code of practice covering the anti-piracy measures for the U.K. has been published by the telecoms regulator Ofcom.

It will allow for the implementation of legislative measures contained in the Digital Economy Act.

The code is now subject to a consultation process until July 30 and set to be introduced in early 2011.

Ofcom said that Parliament's intention was that the regulator should only apply the obligations in a "proportionate" way. So the code will initially only cover the larger fixed-line Internet Service Providers with more than 400,000 subscribers.

This affects the seven largest ISPs from the outset: BT, Talk Talk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange, O2 and the Post Office.

In a statement, Ofcom added that "should levels of copyright infringement on other networks, including mobile, increase then those ISPs will similarly be required to comply with the obligations."

The code also established the threshold for including subscribers on a copyright infringement list, which must be compiled by ISPs. The ISPs must record the number of notifications sent to subscribers and keep an anonymised list of repeat infringers.

Ofcom proposes that the threshold for inclusion in the list is three notifications of copyright infringement, triggered by a formal copyright infringement report (CIR) from a rights holder. There would be a one-month gap after a notification before a second notification could be sent, triggered by further CIRs relating to that subscriber.

Copyright holders can request information from this list and pursue a court order to identify an infringer, if that subscriber has had three notifications in the previous 12 months, and the rights holder has sent at least one CIR relating to that subscriber over the same period.

Rights holders are expected to return to the policy of suing the worst offenders again to protect their rights. A graduated response approach allowing for Internet account suspension was set to come in after a year of the new system of notifications, depending on the impact on overall levels of file-sharing. But the draft code does not provide any outline for these measures taking effect.

"The secretary of state has not indicated his intention to make use of these provisions at this time and this consultation is not concerned with this aspect of the DEA [Digital Economy Act]," said Ofcom in the draft code.

The regulator will also report regularly to government on both the effectiveness of the code and on the additional measures including consumer education, the promotion of lawful alternative services and targeted legal action against serious infringers.

Ofcom said it will also establish an "independent, robust subscriber appeals mechanism for consumers who believe they have received incorrect notifications, arrangements for enforcement and dealing with industry disputes, as well as sharing the costs arising from the code."

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