The crackdown on illegal file sharers in the UK which has been rumoured for months is soon going to begin in earnest, with Virgin Media the first ISP to trial the “three strikes and you’re out” regime.
As long ago as Last October, I wrote an article about how the record industry had asked ISPs to start monitoring all traffic going through their networks and shop people who were downloading music illegally.
Unfortunately for all of us who support freedom and privacy, they managed to get the British government on their side, and in February of this year, it was announced that a green paper had been drafted which would force ISPs to take action on illegal file sharing.
Now, according to the Telegraph newspaper, it has emerged that Virgin Media could be about to trial the new measures.
They report that music trade body the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) are working with Virgin on a pilot scheme which it hopes will be rolled out to other Internet service providers as time goes on.
This is bad news for British Web users, as Virgin is currently the largest residential broadband provider in the country.
The scheme will see subscribers first sent a letter warning them that they are breaking the law by downloading copyrighted material from the Internet. If that is ignored, and the activity continues, the user’s account will be suspended, or even permanently disconnected.
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.”
I don’t see why Virgin should have to take it on their shoulders to police the Internet, which is what they are effectively being asked to do. Plus this throws up all sorts of questions over security, and rights to privacy.
I think Virgin may find themselves losing Broadband customers over this, not only the people who they will likely be forced to disconnect, but from disgruntled subscribers unwilling to stand by and let this happen.
The record industry, on both sides of the Atlantic, would be better off spending their time coming up with a viable new business model than trying to stop what is an already out of control problem. And that doesn’t mean charging everyone $5 for the privilege of going online!