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UPDATE: Six Major UK ISPs Sign Key Anti-Piracy Deal
By: MarkJ - 24 July, 2008 (8:47 AM)

UPDATE 12:47: The BPI has now issued an official press release, confirming much of what has been said already. Scroll to the bottom of this news for further details.

Six of the UK's largest ISPs, which account for roughly 90% of the country's broadband market, have agreed to a land-mark anti-piracy deal ('Memorandum of Understanding') with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA), Ofcom and governments Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR).

The ISPs, which will be officially named later but should include BT, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, Carphone Warehouse (TalkTalk, AOL) and BSkyB, have agreed to the principal of sending warning letters to customers that have been accused of downloading illegal music or movies etc.

It's believed that a deal was only reached after the creative industry watered down a request for ISPs to disconnect customers that failed to heed a provider’s initial warning. Precisely what action ISPs will take in the event of an ignored warning is not yet clear, although the use of aggressive traffic management/shaping and or connection monitoring is allegedly on the cards.

Clearly some elements of the proposed "memorandum" have not yet been fully agreed, which could result in an initially limited system being introduced. Either way, the originally BPI proposed "Three-Strikes" system appears to have been abandoned, at least for now.

It's also understood, as has been reported before, that UK ISPs are working to introduce some form of discount music subscription system alongside their broadband packages. We do not yet know whether this is likely to form any part of today’s initial agreement, although it will probably follow at a later date.

Readers wishing to know more about the problem and why it has come about should read our special editorial - 'To Ban or Not to Ban (Illegal File Sharers)'. More later..

UPDATE 12:47:

Quote from the BPI's press release:

The MOU places joint commitments on the signatories to continue developing consumer education programmes and legal online services. Most importantly, for the first time ISPs will be required to work with music and other rightsholders towards a “significant reduction” in illegal filesharing.

To achieve this, in the first year hundreds of thousands of informative letters will be sent by participating ISPs to customers whose accounts have been identified by BPI as being used illegally. In addition, under the auspices of Ofcom, the signatories will work together to identify effective mechanisms to deal with repeat offenders.

Alongside the MOU, BERR has today published a consultation on proposed new legislation requiring ISPs to deal effectively with illegal filesharing. It is anticipated that the outcome of this consultation will provide a co-regulatory backdrop to the MOU.


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