Virgin Media file-sharing campaign meant to just educate
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.