OFCOM yesterday confirmed it will apply tough new anti-piracy laws only to internet service providers (ISP) with over 400,000 subscribers.
The controversial Digital Economy Bill (DEB), passed after Gordon Brown had dissolved his government, will force ISPs to write to users suspected of piracy and could eventually force them to cut the users off.
The decision was made after smaller ISPs argued the costs of matching illegal downloads to customers would make their businesses prohibitively expensive. However, analysts fear the decision could cause a mass migration of pirates to ISPs outside the reaches of Ofcom.
The new piracy rules will now affect BT, Talk Talk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange, O2 and the Post Office, as well as some bigger regional providers.
TalkTalk has been particularly outspoken against the ruling, issuing a “see you in court” challenge to the regulator. BT has also expressed concerns about the bill.
The DEB attracted criticism from both sides, with some arguing it is too tough and risks criminalising innocent people and others saying it does not do enough to protect the rights of copyright holders.
It was tabled by Liberal Democrat Lord Clement-Jones and passed by 165 votes to 140 in the House of Lords but was slammed when only a handful of MPs turned up to the Commons to debate the issue.