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Cable & Wireless likely to suspend file-sharers' accounts

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The 42 Cable & Wireless customers accused by the music industry of unauthorised file-sharing look likely to have their accounts withdrawn in line with a demand from industry body the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

The BPI wrote to C&W demanding that the 42 accounts be withdrawn because users were uploading music without permission. They now look likely to get their way.

"Cable & Wireless and its ISP, Bulldog, have an acceptable use policy that covers illegal file-sharing," said a statement from C&W. "This would normally mean that any accounts used for illegal file-sharing are closed. We will take whatever steps are necessary to put the matter right."

A further 17 users of Tiscali's internet service could face the same action, though Tiscali was less certain in its response to the BPI 's demand.

"Tiscali received the letter from the BPI by email at 10.15 this morning and we will be dealing with the request in the normal manner," said a statement. "We do not automatically suspend customer accounts on request, but on occasion do so pending investigation. We are reviewing the information they have provided and will respond appropriately."

This is the first time that the BPI has moved to have internet users' accounts suspended, and is intended to enable the group to take action against a greater number of people at one time than before, the body said.

"We have said for months that it is unacceptable for ISP s to turn a blind eye to industrial-scale copyright infringement," BPI Chairman Peter Jamieson. "We are providing Tiscali and Cable & Wireless with unequivocal evidence of copyright infringement via their services. It is now up to them to put their house in order and pull the plug on these people."

The BPI does not actually know the identities of the alleged file-sharers, but the ISP s do. "Whenever an individual uses a file-sharing network they reveal the unique IP address for the internet account being used at that time," said a BPI statement. "The BPI is able to identify from the IP address which ISP provides the service. But only the ISP knows to which individual the IP address belongs."

"Both Tiscali and Cable & Wireless state in their terms of use for subscribers that internet accounts should not be used for copyright infringement," said BPI general counsel Roz Groome. "We now invite them to enforce their own terms of use."

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