Monday, July 7, 2008

UK File-Sharers Warned

Virgin Media sent out letters to about 800 customers, warning them that file-sharing was illegal and they could face legal measures if they did not stop. The problem is, many of these users have wi-fi networks and proclaim their innocence.

Other ISPs have similar letter campaigns, but only Virgin Media signed-on to this "joint educational campaign" with BPI. And they may now be regretting it!

Virgin spokespeople noted this was an "education" campaign and said they had no plans to actually boot anyone from the ISP. But the BPI, the body which represents the British recording industry, stringently reminded everyone that they definitely would take someone to court "and [they] will win." Virgin said there was "no possibility" of anyone facing legal action over this and they would not give out personal information.

The simple fact of the matter is that, as one Becky Hogge, executive director of the Open Rights Group, put it, "Stopping illicit file-sharing might not be as effective as... [monetizing] it." However, according to some studies, legal downloading sites make-up just about 10% of all file-sharers.

Of course, the whole matter is very touchy and a truly successful model has yet to be developed, but BPI is taking the matter way too far and they don't care who they topple in the process - ISPs, end-users, it doesn't matter, so long as they get their way. And though the law may be on their side, even the artists themselves may not!

After all, you're never going to start selling music if no one hears it in the first place.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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