While it regularly comes out near the top of broadband speed polls Virgin Media has recently become ISP enemy number one with its decision to complicate its traffic management rules, question net neutrality and crack down on file sharers. And this isn't going to win hearts and minds either...
Beginning next week, Virgin will begin a 10 week trial to monitor users' and clamp down on anyone who is deemed to be sharing music illegally through peer-to-peer (P2P) services.
Unsurprisingly, the scheme is being run in conjunction with that other organisation we all love to hate - the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Initially any users deemed to have fallen foul of this snooping will be sent a strict letter from Virgin warning them about the dangers of distributing copyrighted material. A second letter will follow should the customer continue their dodgy habit and lastly persistent offenders will have their service cut off. There was no word if any legal action would then be taken against them.
"Education is absolutely key to reducing the extent of illegal downloading, and we are pleased to be working with Virgin Media on this campaign," said Geoff Taylor, BPI CEO *boo+ hiss*. "We believe that new partnerships with ISPs can help build an internet in which music is properly valued. That will benefit not just musicians, songwriters and labels, but all internet users who love music. This joint campaign with Virgin Media is the first step towards achieving that goal."
Funnily enough, with high numbers of Virgin customers complaining about outages and inconsistent network speeds (I know how they feel) this could be seen as a way out for some trapped in lengthy contracts!
Of course it's probably best to check the impending small print and make sure it won't cost you your house...
Update: From what we are hearing Virgin will only be implementing a letter warning policy for now. Stepping this up to bans/legal action at a later date however seems inevitable.