BPI Decries ISP Inaction Against 100K Music Pirates

A UK music industry group claims that it has given an ISP evidence that thousands of its customers are pirating music but it has done nothing to stop them. Since February the BPI has harvested the IP addresses of 100,000 BT Broadband customers but is now labeling the ISP's lack of action against them as "shameful."

Last week, UK ISP BT Broadband made the headlines when their consumer division boss John Petter said that measures to tackle Internet piracy will be hugely costly.

Petter said he fears that the anti-piracy process could cost ISPs a staggering £365m a year – £165m a year more than the £200m the BPI says the industry will lose to online music piracy in 2009. The BT boss went on to label the BPI’s losses assessment as “melodramatic.”

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of BPI, is now hitting back, claiming that Petter has exaggerated his figures too.

Taylor also claims that since February the group’s anti-piracy tracking company (most probably Denmark-based DtecNet) has harvested the IP addresses of 100,000 BT Broadband customers alleged to have been engaged in illicit file-sharing.

The BPI CEO, who says that his group handed the information over to BT, notes that the ISP has done nothing about the problem.

BT says that if the industry wants action against these individuals it should prosecute them, but BPI said that the ISP is shirking its responsibilities.

“It’s shameful for a company like BT to know that a high percentage of the traffic it carries is illegal material but do nothing,” Taylor told The Mirror. “If you operate a commercial service and know it is being used to break the law, taking steps to ensure it is used legally is a cost of doing business.”

However, Taylor’s comments don’t really hold water. BT has hosted more communications in its past and present forms than any other company in UK history, and for many years held a monopoly on telephone communications. BT and every other communications company provides infrastructure which people can use to break all kinds of laws and so far, no-one apart from the entertainment industries feels that carriers should take the responsibility for the actions of others.

The British music industry frustrations are only too clear. They don’t want to take the path of the RIAA and start taking legal action against alleged sharers, so are pressuring ISPs to take action against them instead. ISPs don’t want to be judge, jury and executioner, particularly since there is no legal basis to do so.

So now all eyes are now on the government which will soon have to decide which action to take. Smart money right now is on throttling the connection speeds of file-sharers as an absolute last resort, but this won’t be enough for the music industry, who want outright disconnection or at least a temporary suspension of Internet access.

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