ISP threatens to walk out of illegal file-sharing pact

Exclusive: Carphone Warehouse threatens to walk away from file-sharing deal if it's asked to cut off illegal file sharers

Barry Collins
25 Jul 2008

A deep rift is already emerging between the ISPs and music industry bodies who have agreed to clamp down on illegal file sharing.

Yesterday, Britain's six leading ISPs, the British Phonographic Institute and the Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which they pledged to "significantly reduce illegal file sharing".

However, there's still a massive divide between ISPs and the BPI over how to punish repeat offenders, with the Carphone Warehouse telling PC Pro it would walk out on any deal which saw its customers' broadband connections cut off.

"The three strikes approach we've 100% ruled out," the Carphone spokesman told us. "We won't have anything to do with that."

"We will not disconnect or threaten to disconnect our customers. We will not divulge details of our customers to people like the BPI unless we get a specific court order to do so."

"What we have agreed to do is to write to our customers and advise them there's been an alleged infringement. We're very clear that we don't know if that's the case or not, we've just been told there has been and we want to advise them of that.

"We certainly won't pass over their details and we certainly won't disconnect them."

Three strikes still on the table?

Carphone's attitude is almost the polar opposite of the BPI's, which told PC Pro yesterday that it still wants to see a 'three strikes and you're out' punishment for repeat offenders.

"All of the ISPs have agreed to engage with us in terms of tackling this issue for people who won't respond to the letter," a BPI spokesman said.

"Most people don't want their account used unlawfully and illegally, but clearly there are people that are well aware of what they're doing and there needs to be a framework to tackle those people who won't respond to a softly-softly approach."

"All sorts of things are on the table. We've been very clear that we believe a three-step graduated response is the most clean and effective way of doing that."

BPI "not happy" with the deal

Other measures being considered to punish repeat offenders include throttling their connections and filtering their internet traffic. But Carphone Warehouse insists it's prepared to walk away from the table if draconian measures are introduced.

"Our priority is always to protect our customer. We will look at any sensible suggestion.... We haven't got any plans to adopt any of those other measures at the moment," the spokesman told us.

"We won't sign up for something we don't agree with. It's important to point out here this isn't a BPI initiative.

"The BPI isn't happy with this approach. It wants a 'three strikes and you're out approach' and I think it's coming round to realise that - well certainly I can speak for TalkTalk and Carphone Warehouse - there's no way that will happen. It may be other ISPs have said that to it [the BPI] as well."

BT refused to comment on its preferred means of dealing with repeat offenders, claiming that the group will "come to a view about the effectiveness of those [proposed] solutions."

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