Virgin Media may be first UK ISP to ban illegal downloaders


computer_handcuffs.gifFollowing last month’s announcement of an official “three strikes and you’re off the Internet” policy, it seems that Virgin Media could be the first UK ISP to implement the scheme.

Though the record labels are pushing for such a scheme, there’s no definitive method for ensuring such measures are legal yet. The Government is expected to consult on this next month.

That hasn’t stopped the BPI and Virgin collaborating on a pilot scheme that could see a large number of Virgin’s customers sent warning letters.

A spokesman for Virgin Media said: “We have been in discussions with rights holders organisations about how a voluntary scheme could work. We are taking this problem seriously and would favour a sensible voluntary solution.”

According to The Telegraph, “the BPI has teams of technicians to trace illegal music downloading to individual accounts. It will hand these account numbers over to Virgin Media, which will match them to names and addresses.”

Does this mean that the BPI is already sniffing around Virgin Media data, or does it have access to some mystical account that follows Internet users around to every web and file sharing site they happen to land upon?

The BPI’s favoured approach is for strike one to be a warning letter, followed by strike two which is a temporary suspension of Internet services, followed by strike three which is total disconnection.

It will be interesting to see how Virgin Media implement the scheme, which they say will also be open to film and television studios. Presumably they’ll hold the main account holder responsible for everything that happens on their Internet connection, as it’s well nigh impossible for an ISP to work out who in a household has accessed what online.

The Government has threatened that, if ISPs can’t come up with a voluntary code by next April, they’ll implement their own. Either way, it’s looking like the days of easy illegal downloading could be numbered.

(Via The Telegraph)

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Andy Merrett
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