UK ISPs to crack down on illegal music, film downloads

Mumbai: In a major collective effort to crackdown illegal music and film downloads, six major ISPs (Internet Service Provider) in the UK have inked an agreement with the music industry to help combat the online piracy menace.

The ISPs – BT, Virgin, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse, have joined hands to help the music industry clamp down on the illegal sharing of music via the Internet.

This move will begin with warning letters being sent to customers who are suspected of music piracy. If this does not work, then the ISPs and rights holders will work together with media regulator, Ofcom, to come up with a Code of Practice on how to act.

However, the ISPs have rejected demands from the music industry to cut people’s connections if they ignore repeated warnings.

The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signed between the ISPs and the music industry is said to be drawn up by the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform.

Carphone Warehouse CEO Charles Dunstone said, "Our position is very clear. We are the conduit that gives users, access to the Internet. We do not control the Internet, nor do we control what our users do on the Internet. I cannot foresee any circumstances in which we would voluntarily disconnect a customer’s account on the basis of a third party alleging a wrongdoing."

While Virgin Media and BT began sending letters to music downloaders last month, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse have now joined the movement. The six firms have also agreed to develop legal file sharing services in order to ensure that customers are aware of the repercussions for sharing copy-right protected music.

According to media reports, the government’s own proposal for such action will be published, suggesting either a levy on copying hardware, a compulsion on ISPs to filter traffic or a French-style "three-strikes-and-you’re-out" disconnection warning system.

Additionally, the ISPs will also inform parents of teenagers if they are found to be downloading music illegally.

Close to 63 per cent of people download music from P2P networks- and average of 53 illegal tracks per month, according to June University of Hertfordshire research for British Music Rights.

According to a report, an estimated 6.5 million Britons were involved in illicit music downloads over last 12 months. As a result of this, sale of CDs and music has been hit resulting in the music industry to lose over a billion pounds in revenue over the next few years.

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