In an effort to reduce illicit file-sharing, draft legislation was passed in Finland last week which will require Internet service providers to send letters to customers suspected of unauthorized sharing. The warnings will be initiated by copyright owners, but at no stage will Internet subscribers’ identities be compromised. A three strikes-style regime is not on the agenda.

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In common with most countries around Europe, Finland has been under pressure from the entertainment industries to do something about unauthorized Internet file-sharing.

To this end, Finland’s Government has drafted changes to both the country’s copyright and electronic data protection laws with the aim of reducing what it terms the “unlawful distribution of creative content.”

The legislation, which was presented to parliament last Friday, proposes an alternative to expensive court proceedings initiated by copyright holders.

After infringers are tracked on file-sharing networks by copyright holders, allegations of infringement will be sent to Internet service providers who will then be required to forward them to the appropriate subscriber.

“The proposed approach is taken to guarantee that the subscriber’s identity data stays with the Internet service provider and is not disclosed to the copyright holder,” Government Minister Jorma Walden said in a statement.

At this stage, the exact text of the letters has not been revealed, but it is thought there will be no outright allegations of wrongdoing.

It is hoped that this approach to dealing with infringements will reduce the need for police involvement in simple file-sharing cases and the subsequent load on the courts.

The bill, which is a continuation of negotiations started in 2008 to promote e-commerce and content creation, is expected to come into force during spring 2011.

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