The government wants to ban from the web internet users who illegally download music and films.

The Department of Media, Culture and Sport wants to force internet service providers (ISPs) to take action against recalcitrant customers who repeatedly download pirated material.

Under the proposed sanctions users would face a 'three strikes and you're out' regime. Get caught nicking content once and you'll get a warning email. Next time, the ISP will have to suspend you, and if you get collared three times, you'll find your internet contract terminated.

And it's almost certainly gonna happen. Indeed, the UK's big four ISPs - BT, Tiscali, Orange and Virgin Media - were already talking to copyright holders about a joint voluntary agreement to share information on web violators.

So far so fair. Studios and record companies have the right to charge what they like for their content, users have the right to decide to buy or not to buy. Illicit downloading is theft and, like the racy adverts at the start DVDs say: 'you wouldn't steal a car'. (Does anyone else miss Simon Bates?)

The libertarian in me does worry about any government having the right to ban people from the internet, however. So the 'three strikes' element is very important here. Frankly, to get caught nicking off the web once is unfortunate, to be nabbed three times stinks of carelessness. And idiocy. And dishonesty.

And I suppose people do get their electricity and gas cut off if they don't keep up with payments... the web's important, but it's not that important...

One to watch, I guess.

The Department of Media, Culture and Sport will say only: "There are still meetings going on and consultation to take place, so nothing is finalised. The strategy document is to be released within the next couple of weeks."

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