European politicians have voted down calls to throw suspected file-sharers off the net.
The idea to cut off persistent pirates formed part of a wide-ranging report on creative industries written for the European parliament.
But in a narrow vote MEPs backed an amendment to the report which said net bans conflicted with "civil liberties and human rights".
It puts MEPS at odds with governments planning tough action against pirates.
"The vote shows that MEPs want to strike a balance between the interests of rights holders and those of consumers, and that big measures like cutting off internet access shouldn't be used," said a spokeswoman for the European Parliament after the vote.
The amendment was added to the so-called Bono Report on the Cultural Industries. This was written by French MEP Guy Bono to inform forthcoming European parliament policy that would encourage growth in the region's creative industries.
The amendment called on the EC and its member nations to "avoid adopting measures conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness, such as the interruption of internet access."
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which represents Europe's music industry, said the amendment was "badly drafted" and contradicted the rest of the report.
"We look forward to a full discussion in the European Parliament in the coming months on how best to address copyright theft online," said the IFPI.
The vote has no legal force and leaves national governments free to implement their own anti-piracy plans.
But, said the Open Rights Group, it does "signify resistance" among European law makers to the strict measures that nations such as France are implementing.
In late November 2007 France announced its intention to implement a law that turns net firms into anti-piracy watchdogs.
Information gathered about individuals who persistently share music and movies online will be passed to a government unit that will issue warnings or ask for an individual's net access to be suspended or shut off.
The British government has floated similar plans but net firms have rejected calls for them to act as watchdogs.
source : news.bbc.co.uk