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Some surprising survey results came in this week. In a poll conducted by ISPreview, one in five respondents said they would back harsher punishments for people who share files illegally. Perhaps less surprisingly given how widespread is the problem of file sharing, is that just 5.2 per cent were in favour of disconnection.

Personally, I wouldn’t object to a banning illegal downloaders, but only if they were persistent offenders. Cutting broadband speeds meanwhile was considered a fair punishment by 14 per cent of the sample, and I'd back this too. Not least because it has the advantage of having been proved to be feasible – after all a similar system is already in place to penalise heavy downloaders.

Alas, however it seems the most popular option is written threats. In an ideal world, these well-intention folks would be right. But I’m not sure that a harshly worded letter would do the trick. It’s no real disincentive to wrongdoing whatsoever if there are no sanctions to back it up.

Whether a solution will emerge in years to come is impossible to foresee. But what we don’t want is the situation where ISPs are forced to pay subsidies to record companies – something that has been mooted in recent months. The result of this would be charges passed onto us. Not only will this unfairly penalise those who don’t illegally download content, it’ll also drive up the cost of our broadband connection at a time when most of us could really do without any more outgoings.

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