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Virgin Media file-sharing campaign meant to just educate
Thursday 03 July 2008 11:48:38 by Andrew Ferguson

It has taken just one month for Virgin Media to go from saying they will work with the BPI in an attempt to cut down on copyright violations to sending out the first batch of 800 letters to customers.

Radio 1 Newsbeat has more on this story, and they have also talked to some people who have received the warning letter. Confusingly the envelope warns that if people do not read the letter they risk their broadband being disconnected, but Virgin Media tells Newsbeat there is "absolutely no possibility" of bans or taking legal action.

Hopefully better care was taken with the processing of the information sent to Virgin Media by the BPI. In the case study featured someone downloading a single music track received the letter, but no-one in the house admits to having done so, with them suggesting perhaps it was someone outside the property using the wireless connection.

One can certainly imagine there being a few arguments in households between parents and teenagers due to these letters, even if they are just meant to educate users. If this first batch of letters is going to people who have only allegedly downloaded one file illegally, the campaign is set to cost a lot of money to run, or that the issues of copyright violation are much smaller than all the data published to date. One would have expected those downloading the most material to be dealt with first.

What the BPI will make of a campaign that now seems to carry no teeth is hard to say. Even if Virgin Media was to enforce some three strikes and you are out rule, people would simply move to another provider or before getting to that stage find other ways of obtaining music for free, such as copying it off a friends CD.

The music/film and broadband companies need to sort something out, or it is very likely that some government led scheme may be introduced. The resulting legislation is likely to be very cumbersome and get things very wrong, by targeting file-sharing networks alone and ignoring other areas like newsgroups.

There would seem to be no magic bullet but then copyright violation has always gone on since copyright laws existed. Back in the days of copying a LP to tape and sharing this with friends it was impossible to track, but the online digital world which many people think is anonymous actually makes it easier for people to be tracked down. The message from the public currently seems to be that many people think online music downloads are too expensive and people perceive that hardly any of the money goes to the artist.

Comments

Posted by keith_thfc over 8 years ago
Still don't understand why VM are pioneering this heavy handed approach? Nobody is forcing them to do this - and if no other provider is following suit its guaranteed to give them bad PR.

Perhaps VM have jumped on this bandwagon in order to scare away some of the heavier users and thus save costs?
Posted by callum9999 over 8 years ago
VM haven't pioneered this, BT do it and I'm sure a few others do.

I hardly see sending a letter to a probable criminal as heavy handed, its not as if there are any threats or anything.
Posted by mynamesinuse over 8 years ago
Perhaps if A) the music and film industry stop taking the micky with the cost of the items.

Excluding writing / producing the tracks in the first place. it takes Penny's to produce each CD, and then they sell them at £10+

If the items where cheap enough in the first place, the majority of people wouldnt bother.
Posted by carrot63 over 8 years ago
The BPI seem to have asked for a Rolls Royce and come out with a second hand Skoda with this fabulously stupid initiative. Just another reason for VM customers to look elsewhere.
Posted by AndrueC over 8 years ago
VM are a broadcaster so that's probably why are they walking hand in hand with the BPI.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Im saying nothing except the title and the words Virgin and educate together is damned funny for more reasons than you can shake a stick at.

Lets hope they "educate" their support staff, and "educate" users why the service is pish also LOL
Posted by pliddell over 8 years ago
It is a bit worrying that the BPI have the nerve (let alone the authority!) to get the ISP to write a letter to a customer for "downloading a single music track"!! This after the recent headlines that various government agencies / councils / Police etc are being told to reduce the abuses of the powers that they have been given to watch over us. "Simply madness" is about the only description to use.
Posted by herdwick over 8 years ago
"The message from the public currently seems to be that many people think online music downloads are too expensive and people perceive that hardly any of the money goes to the artist."

so what - that exact same argument isn't going to work when I drive off from the forecourt without paying for a tank of diesel, now is it ?
Posted by c_j_ over 8 years ago
"People perceive that hardly any money goes to the artist".

Given that over half of the price of a download track goes to the record company, it's not just perception, it's reality:

"iTunes downloads cost 79p per track. Writer/publisher get 6p, Performer 6-8p, Visa/Mastercard 7p, Apple 12p, and Record Company almost 50p." http://www.tomrobinson.com/records/music/index.htm

And who pays the BPI? *** The record companies ***
Posted by Aqualung over 8 years ago
who has given the BPI the right to enforce anything ???? they are not a law enforcement agency .Anything they do should be backed up by a court order.They can just merrily accuse who they wish with the customer having no way of fighting the allegations.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"who has given the BPI the right to enforce anything ???? they are not a law enforcement agency .Anything they do should be backed up by a court order.They can just merrily accuse who they wish with the customer having no way of fighting the allegations."
I havent seen the letter they send but i imagine if it blantantly says you stole music or words to that effect its only a matter of time before they pick on the wrong person whos a legal eagle and also innocent. Wont be shocked if virgin or the BPI find thereself in court being sued soon.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
herdwick - So, you're conflating the crominal offence of theft and civil offence of unauthorised breach of copyright. Funny, those offenses sound like they're COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS.

Aqualung - The owners of the music have given the BPI the right to enforce their civil rights. If it is legal for the ISP to hand over the details? Well, that's another thing entirely.

In any case, anything which reduces the amount of noise poloution is a good thing.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"Aqualung - The owners of the music have given the BPI the right to enforce their civil rights. If it is legal for the ISP to hand over the details? Well, that's another thing entirely."
The content of the letter i would love to see, i guarantee there is atleast one person it has been sent to wrongly. If that letter directly accuses you of downloading copyright material when you havent, thats libel, at some point they will pick on the wrong person and instead find thereselves on the wrong end of the law.
Posted by scragglymonk over 8 years ago
friend has virgin, if he gets his cable kicked off, he said words to the effect that sky would have a new punter. Got him to run peerguardian2 with windows startup just in case :)
Posted by beeflin over 8 years ago
It's not libel. Libel has to give a bad image. It can't do that in a private one-to-one communication with the person themselves.
Posted by Canopus over 8 years ago
There has only been one case of the letter on TV News so far. The person accused in the letter was supposed to have downloaded an Amy Winehouse track. He claimed not only he didn't download it, but, he doesn't even like Amy Winehouse. Sounds like VM guess you may be involved in P2P by Internet activity then use the latest most popular artist to accuse you of downloading and hopefully it may frighten a few people.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"It's not libel. Libel has to give a bad image. It can't do that in a private one-to-one communication with the person themselves."

Considering Virgin and many ISPs share your details with third party companies unless they can show the truth or lies about you downloading copyrighted material are not shared then its still libel........ Virgins terms thereself say they may share information about your internet with others.
Posted by Fixer109 over 8 years ago
This whole "Copyright" saga is an nonsense.

1) How much is the BPI spending on following up on all those single downloads. Would it not be better if they gave this money to the "artists" they are supposedly protecting (or is it the record companies that want to swell their coffers)

2) VM is spending a fortune on sending out these letters, these are sent to their customers so haven't they heard of e-mail (which record they have on all their customers) after all the can put a automatic receipt on these mails when received so that they know that the customer has received it.
Posted by Fixer109 over 8 years ago
To conitune on my comment above:

Remember this is the company that throttles you if you exceed their "Fair usage" policy which BTW is never advised to their customers.

IMHO this is just a scam by VM to lower bandwith usage as they are unwilling to invest in upgrading their network.
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