Virgin Media and BPI (the UK equivalent of RIAA) plan to start sending out warning letters to the ISP’s errant subscribers illegally sharing music over Virgin’s broadband. BPI will identify illegal file sharers and send that information to Virgin Media. The ISP will then send the subscriber two “informative letters,” one from Virgin and one from BPI. Thus begins a plan of action the ISP and music association started back in March. We weren’t impressed with it then, and we aren’t impressed with it now.
Enlisting ISPs to help enforce civil laws on their networks is a slippery slope that could lead to privacy violations, conflicts of interest and lawsuits against the ISPs. Plus, warning people who illegally share music files that what they’re doing is wrong isn’t going to save music sales.
So what that Virgin isn’t disconnecting users who receive warning letters? It’s still a private company working to enforce public laws. There’s a word for that. Vigilante.