The new baseball season is in full swing, yet in recent months the phrase "three strikes and you’re out" has taken on an entirely different meaning on the Internet. My new technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reports on how, prodded by content lobby groups, a handful of governments have moved toward requiring Internet service providers to terminate subscribers if they engage in file sharing activities on three occasions. The policy – occasionally referred to as "graduated response" – received support last fall from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who pressured the private sector to negotiate an agreement to implement the three strikes system. The policy soon attracted global attention as the United Kingdom, Japan, and Australia all announced that they were contemplating a similar approach.
In recent weeks, however, it would appear that governments are beginning to have sober second thoughts. After a Swedish judge recommended adopting the three strikes policy, that country's Ministers of Justice and Culture wrote a public opinion piece setting out their forthcoming policy that explicitly excluded the three strikes model.
Earlier this month, the European Parliament delivered an even stronger rejection.