British ISP, recording industry warn illegal downloaders

Virgin Media and the British Polyphonic Industry say they will send "informative" letters of an "informative" nature to broadband customers.

Virgin Media and the British Polyphonic Industry will work together to "educate" broadband customers on avoiding legal action while downloading music with peer-to-peer software, the organizations said Friday.

A joint release posted on the British Polyphonic Industry (BPI) Web site said Virgin Media broadband customers using their accounts to illegally share music will receive letters from Virgin Media and the BPI. Customer names and addresses will not be disclosed to the BPI--which is comparable to the Recording Industry Association of America--and the release says the letters will be of an "informative" nature.

Music graphic

According to the BPI, the new campaign will provide advice on how to prevent misuse and find legal online sources of downloadable music, and it will also illustrate the potential dangers of downloading illicit files. Virgin Media said its broadband is a great platform for people to download music, but it wants "them to do so without infringing rights of musicians and music companies."

The educational information will also be posted on the Virgin Media Web site.

The BPI said research concludes that 6.5 million broadband accounts in the U.K. are used to access music without permission. Virgin Media, a cable, Internet, phone, and cell phone provider, is part of the larger Virgin Group. The company has 10 million customers total, and is the most popular residential broadband provider in the U.K., according to its Web site.

BPI CEO Geoff Taylor suggested that new partnerships with Internet service providers would reduce illegal downloading and said the partnership with Virgin Media was the first step toward reaching that goal.

In March, British technology Web site The Register said that Virgin Media and BPI were in talks to implement a three-strikes program through which users would be warned of their illicit activities before their service was cut off. But instead the education plan has been employed.

The Register claims to have examples of the Virgin Media letter (PDF) and the BPI letter (PDF) that will be sent to copyright-infringing users during the campaign's two-month trial period.

 

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