ISP To Voluntarily Disconnect File-Sharers, Offers Free Usenet

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Virgin Media in the UK has announced that it is working with the music industry to chase down its file-sharing customers and disconnect them from the internet. At the same time, it will offer an enhanced service which will see its customers get free Usenet binaries access, untraceable by the music industry.

Anyone familiar with Virgin Media’s advertising (previously Telewest/Blueyonder) will recall their TV commercials over the last couple of years which centered round the ability to download greater and greater amounts of media, faster than ever before.

Their ‘Best Things in Life Are Free’ TV campaign, complete with eye-catching computer graphics, with movie and musical themes throughout left the viewer with a clear message: if you want to download music and movies quickly (for free), join us. Now, in 2008, the situation has changed dramatically. Kind of.

According to a report, the ISP has had a change of heart and will be working in collaboration with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Starting with a pilot scheme, the BPI will deviate from its stated policy of not going after individual file-sharers by targeting Virgin Media customers on P2P networks and reporting them to the ISP.

Set to go live during the next few months, and at the behest of the UK music industry, Virgin’s scheme will see them send warning letters out to customers flagged as file-sharers by the BPI. Those who do not heed warnings to stop will see Virgin disconnect them from the internet. The scheme will also be available to movie and TV studios who wish to punish Virgin’s customers.

Earlier this year the government said that ISPs should find a way to curb unauthorized downloading. By stepping up with its own plan, Virgin is hoping to side-step government enforced legislation.

A Virgin Media spokesman said: “We have been in discussions with rights holders organizations about how a voluntary scheme could work. We are taking this problem seriously and would favor a sensible voluntary solution.”

So as Virgin Media constantly upgrades its broadband customers to faster and faster connections over the last couple of years (4Mbit connections became 10Mbit, 10Mbit then became 20Mbit, 20Mbit due to become 40mb), it now agrees to punish the very people it targets when offering these super-fast connections.

However, all might not be lost for the file-sharer at Virgin Media, especially those who want to max-out their new bandwidth offering. The ISP will be rolling out a new newsgroup service for its subscribers which should be ready in the next couple of months. Using the Highwinds server banks, the service will offer 7 days retention on the all important binary newsgroups. A Virgin spokesman said: “We’re delighted to be working with Highwinds to build out our newsgroup service. Our expanded access to newsgroups will give our customers a free news feed to newsgroups with exceptional retention, providing one of the best free newsgroup services in the UK.”

Not to mention super high speed access to all the movies, music and software anyone could ever need, with no fear that the BPI, RIAA or IFPI can snoop on the transfers.

The Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways.


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