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File-sharing crackdown on both sides of Atlantic

Posted by: Laurence Simons 26/03/13

Internet service providers in the US and the UK have continued to do their best impression of King Canute (the Danish king who allegedly attempted to hold back the waves) by cracking down on file-sharing sites.

While some may see this as the equivalent of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted, changed its name to Sanchez, grown a beard, died its hair and started a new life working as a French teacher in Santa Monica, it is clear that the debate around illegal downloading is still a hot topic for many companies.

This could see in-house lawyers called upon to deal with more issues surrounding the controversial topic - the High Court has ordered internet service providers (ISPs) to block Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy, after issuing a similar command for high-profile site, the Pirate Bay, late last year.

In the US, a number of ISPs are now to monitor peer-to-peer web sites to identify copyright material and warn its users on a graduated penalty system, reports the Global Legal Post.

Although some cases have been brought against internet users who downloaded content illegally - including Jammie Thomas-Rasset, an American woman fined US$222,000 for 'stealing' an embarrassing selection of music by Aerosmith and No Doubt - the legal situation around this area is constantly evolving.

Despite ISPs being under increasing pressure to prevent users from accessing copyright material, plenty of ways have been found to circumvent their measures - meaning general counsel may need to be prepared for a further slew of cases in the future.

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