Lord Mandelson, U.K. Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, has promised legislation to tackle unlawful P2P file-sharing.

Speaking today (Oct. 28) at "c&binet forum" -- a three-day business and creative industry conference held in Hertfordshire, England (Oct. 26-Oct. 28) -- Mandelson proposed introducing "proportionate" legislative measures "that will give people ample awareness and ample opportunity to stop breaking the rules. "

Asked from the floor whether he was proposing legislation similar to France's controversial "three-strikes" proposal, Mandelson replied: "Yes. I don't know whether it's three strikes but it's certainly two notifications."

He said these measures would include the possibility of account suspension, although "in this case there will be opportunity to appeal." However, such a measure "will be the last resort and I have no expectation of mass suspensions resulting," he continued.

Mandleson's stance was welcomed by BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor, who said in a statement: "The measures confirmed today by Government are a proportionate way of encouraging illegal file sharers to embrace the new services, and will drive further innovation that will benefit online consumers."

The minister was speaking today ahead of the government's scheduled publication in late November of its response to a previous consultation process on unlawful P2P file-sharing (Billboard.biz, Sept. 30), which concluded on Sept. 29.

The November publication is expected to contain details of legislation for tackling the issue which could come into force in April 2010. The Digital Economy Bill is expected to be included in the Queen's Speech outlining government policy at the state opening of Parliament on Nov. 18.

The government's position to date has been that it prefers a non-legislative approach to regulating the Internet, with ISPs and the creative industries working together to develop voluntary solutions to illegal filesharing/downloading.

A subsequent press release from the Dept. for Business Innovation & Skills clarified the Government's position, stating that it "expects that warning notifications, followed up with targeted legal action by rights holders, should be the only enforcement action required to significantly reduce the level of unlawful file-sharing."

However, the statement added: "Government would have reserve powers to issue an order requiring ISPs to invoke technical measures. Account suspension will be an option available to apply at the last resort for the most serious infringers," the statement continued.

During his keynote address, the Business Secretary described file-sharing as "a genuine threat to our creative industries" adding that the combined earnings of the U.K. creative industry was worth about £16 billion ($1,633,400,000) and represented 4% of U.K. exports.

"The creative sector has faced challenges to protected formats before," he said. "But the threat faced today from online infringement, particularly unlawful file-sharing, is of a different scale altogether. We cannot sit back and do nothing."