Around 800 Virgin Media broadband customers have been sent letters informing them that they have been identified as file-sharers and politely telling them to cease downloading copyright protected content, specifically music. They are also warned that if they don’t stop, “further steps” will be taken against them.
There’s no indication in the letter as to what these sinister ‘further steps’ might be, but the envelope containing the letter states: “Important. If you don’t read this, your broadband could be disconnected.” That’s a bit of a giveaway. Conveniently it will let you know if that nice lady downstairs is an evil file-sharer too.
The Guardian has a full copy of the letter for you to read. It has a typically patronising tone, clearly in line with the ISPs urge to ‘educate’ users on what’s right and wrong on the internet. Here’s a snippet:
“As we’re sure you’ll know, many files that can be saved on your computer (like music and videos) are protected by copyright. While it may be okay to store them for personal use, it’s unlawful to download or share them without the permission of the copyright owner – for example, the record company or film studio that released them. Otherwise it’s a “copyright infringement”, which can lead to legal action being taken against the person responsible.”
Oh look at the jaunty quotation marks around ‘”copyright infringement”‘. It’s like Virgin is just one of the guys. It doesn’t really ‘get’ the ‘lingo’ and it hates having to write to you. See, it was all the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) making them do it. God, they’d like to stick it to them too, but you know, can’t mess with the man and that.
Included in the letter is a message from the BPI explaining why it is so hatefully immoral to download music from P2P networks and, more helpfully, points you in the direction of legit free downloadable content.
All this is pretty clever of Virgin Media. I’m sure that it really couldn’t give a shit about tiny weenie album downloads compared to the impact of downloading movies and full blown TV series. But by siding with the BPI, it can tackle the most serious file-sharers under a guise of morality. Then hopefully everyone will forget that it has been fibbing about the speed of its network and capping the speeds of customers that use the full extent of its ‘unlimited’ contracts.
Let us know if you are one of the handpicked 800 naughty file-sharers. Are you going to mend your evil ways and stick to clogging your bandwidth with as many iPlayer downloads as humanly possible? Have you framed the letter yet?