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UK music industry organisation the BPI has launched an application to help computer users sniff out any of that nasty P2P software that might have sneaked its way on their hard drives, along with any unauthorised media files that might have appeared too.

The tool, dubbed Digital File Check, is described as "a simple educational tool that aims to assist computer users... [learn] how they, or their families, colleagues and friends, can enjoy music and film legally and responsibly without risking legal action by copyright holders".

DFC "identifies and easily uninstalls or blocks" P2P software. These applications, the BPI claimed, can "slow or damage your PC and can be used to illegally trade files". It will also search for and "remove any music, movie or image files that may have been copied or distributed without your permission or that of the copyright holders".

DFC was developed by Danish developer DtecNet, which specialises in anti-piracy software, and implemented by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

Alas, IFPI's code only runs on Windows, so Mac and Linux users will have to continue using their preferred systems without knowing whether P2P software, which of itself is not illegal, has been installed on their hard drives. As such, we couldn't run the app to see how well it distinguishes between content we own but is encoded in a DRM-free format and what the software believes to be an illegal download.

DFC is essentially being pitched at parents who want to check Junior's hard drive and company IT departments who might want to audit employees' PCs for illegal copies of music and movies. It's hard to see anyone else running it. If you want to try it out, you can get it here.

The BPI said no information gathered by the software is sent to anti-piracy agencies.

We'd argue it's all a bit silly really. People know downloading certain songs from Kazaa, eDonkey etc isn't kosher, any more than copying a chum's CD is. The music industry would better direct its efforts at shutting off the supply at source, which since the Supreme Court rejected Grokster's defence, at which it seems be having some success. Anyone who needs DFC is likely to be among those least likely to run it.

Separately, the BPI said it had published a booklet, also produced by IFPI, which will be mailed to IT managers in Britain's biggest companies warning them about the dangers of letting employees access P2P services from their work machines.

The BPI claims illegal file-sharing cost the UK music industry £654m in 2003 and 2004. Like the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA), it has been pursuing alleged file-sharers through the courts, initiating legal action against 88 UK Internet users so far. Some 60 have settled out of court, coughing up £2000-6500 in compensation. ®

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