In what the British Phonographic Industry is calling a 'ground-breaking' agreement, the six largest ISPs in the UK are to send hundreds of thousands of letters to their customers who have been reported by the BPI to be illegally sharing music over the Internet.
The agreement is a result of negotiations facilitated by the government's Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and comes less than two months after ISP Virgin Media began sending similar letters to its customers on behalf of the BPI.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Motion Pictures Association of America has also signed the agreement. Exactly what its involvement will be is unknown, but we expect it'll want a piece of the stop-sharing-our-products-or-you'll-lose-your-Interwebs action too.
The ISPs -- BT, Virgin, Tiscali, Orange, Sky and Carphone Warehouse -- themselves will not be responsible for policing their networks, however. Instead, the BPI will be acting to identify customers it believes are engaging in copyright infringement. It will then report an infringer's IP address to the ISP that assigned it, prompting the ISP to send out a letter highlighting, among other things, how music piracy is wrecking the lives of A-list musicians and forcing them into ever smaller and smaller mansions.
This will all be considered a first step and will take place in the first year of the programme. During this time, agreement signatories will also "work together to identify effective mechanisms to deal with repeat offenders", Crave has learnt. It has not been specified what these 'mechanisms' will involve, but we don't rule out the possibility of blacklists detailing repeat offenders being shared between participating ISPs.
It's the ultimate goal of the music industry to encourage file sharers to move to legal download stores or back to good ol' CDs. Perhaps if the countless millions of music lovers already doing so weren't being treated like criminals with overpriced, ed downloads, they already would have.
Will scary letters from the music industry convince you to fall back in love with them? Will they persuade you to use the DRM-free, fairly priced, universally simple and device-agnostic download services that don't exist in this country yet?
The comments section below is, as always, open to your most heart-felt comments and opinions. -Nate Lanxon