Virgin Media to 'educate' illegal file sharers

Virgin Media IP addresses to be monitored

Virgin Media and the BPI are working together on an 'education campaign' aimed at users believed to be illegally sharing copyrighted files.

As part of the campaign, two warning letters, one from the ISP and one from the BPI, will be issued to the alleged offenders. However, those who continue to illegally share files will not be disconnected under a 'three strikes' rule, as previously thought.

BPI investigators will closely monitor BitTorrent activities and inform Virgin Media of the IP addresses involved. The ISP will be responsible for distributing the letter and personally identifiable information regarding the accounts will not be given to the BPI.

In a statement, Virgin Media said the letter will advise users on "how to prevent account misuse", "avoid the risk of legal action", and warn customers that peer-to-peer networks carry "increased threats from viruses and spyware."

The campaign looks set to run for a trial period of two months, then its effect on illegally file sharing will be reviewed.

Virgin Media claims a lot of account holders may not be unaware other members of the households are using the connection to illegally download files.

"This campaign is about helping our customers understand how they can do this and get the best out of the internet," said Virgin Media.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI added: "Education is absolutely key to reducing the extent of illegal downloading."

"We believe that new partnerships with ISPs can help build an internet in which music is properly valued. This joint campaign with Virgin Media is the first step towards achieving that goal."

ISPs have been under pressure from the government to work with the music industry in targeting illegal file sharers. Ministers have even threatened to introduce anti-filesharing legislation if a solution is not reached.

However not all ISPs have been happy to work with the BPI on this matter. The Carphone Warehouse, the company behind broadband supplier Talk Talk, publicly refused to disconnect customers caught illegally sharing copyright files. In response to this the BPI threatened the ISP with legal action.

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