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UK Parliament passes anti-piracy law authorizing internet service suspension

[JURIST] The UK Parliament [official website] on Thursday approved legislation [text] authorizing the suspension of internet service for those who repeatedly download copyrighted material illegally. The act also received Royal Assent [text] and is now law. The Digital Economy Bill [legislative materials] calls on internet service providers (ISPs) to block download sites, reduce a user's broadband speeds, and ultimately shut down a user's internet access in order to prevent piracy of copyrighted materials. The bill, known as a three-strikes law, imposes stricter penalties on repeat digital offenders than had previously existed, and has received a great deal of public criticism [TimesOnline report]. Certain ISPs have even threatened to not comply with the law, but MPs who support it say it is a necessary step [Guardian report] to protect the creators of digital content.

Online piracy has assumed increasing importance in the eyes of legislators across Europe, and many countries, including France, have enacted similar legislation. A recent report, however, suggests that the French anti-piracy bill may actually lead to increased piracy [JURIST report]. The French bill was approved by the Constitutional Court in October after being given final approval by the French Parliament [JURIST reports] the previous month. Under the French law, the government could send notices to Internet service providers to terminate an individual's internet access for up to one year after a third violation of intellectual property laws for downloading or sharing movies and music.

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