In France, the Hadopi law introduced a “three-strike” procedure leading to suspension of internet access for repeat offenders. More than 700,000 notices have been sent, reaching around 10 per cent of peer-to-peer file-sharers in France.

The offender, who can appeal, has web access suspended for up to a year if they fail to comply with two warnings. French iTunes sales are estimated to be 23 per cent higher for singles and 25 per cent higher for digital albums that they would have been in the absence of Hadopi.

The US Congress shelved two bills, Sopa and Pipa bills, designed to block access to sites containing unauthorised copyright material. Wikipedia led the protests, going dark for 24 hours, arguing that the bills could censor the web.

In South Korea, government officials report that 70 per cent of infringing users stop their activity on receipt of a first warning notice, under similar rules to Hadopi. New Zealand also has a “graduated response” system. 

Ireland recently passed into law controversial copyright legislation which could see websites subject to injunctions if they publish copyrighted material.

In January, the UK and 21 other European Union member states signed an international copyright agreement treaty called Acta (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), which protects the intellectual property rights of those who produce music, films, pharmaceuticals and fashion.