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Tiscali and BPI in filesharing standoff

C&W keeping well out of it

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Tiscali, the ISP accused by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) of harbouring at least 17 filesharers, has said it won't close any accounts without more evidence of wrongdoing from the music industry body.

It also said it would not hand any personal details over to the BPI without a court order, in line with its obligations under the Data Protection Act.

The BPI on Monday wrote an open letter to both Tiscali and Cable&Wireless, demanding that the ISPs close the accounts of 59 individuals it claims are large-scale filesharers.

Tiscali responded late Tuesday afternoon, by questioning the quality of the evidence provided, and refusing to identify the account holders without a court order.

The BPI is quite content with the response, and says it is "hugely encouraged" by the ISP's willingness to cooperate.

Some of you may wonder if the BPI has read the same letter the rest of us have, (see page 2) but Matt Phillips, spokesman for the BPI, is adamant that he isn't merely taking a glass-half-full approach to the ISP's response.

"The first thing is that they've already moved to suspend one account. Yes, they wanted more evidence - we could challenge this in court, but we're happy to provide it. We're pleased they are willing to cooperate," he told us.

He added that the BPI was confident it would be awarded the court order it needs to force the ISPs to hand over the names of the alleged filesharers.

"ISPs have had lots of time to introduce their own measures to combat filesharing, but these are obviously insufficient," he went on. "It was not a legal threat, we just decided to make an open plea for cooperation."

The BPI has previously pursued 139 individuals it alleges breached copyright by filesharing. Of the 139 cases, 111 have been settled out of court.

It says it only targets major uploaders, and that the IP addresses it handed over to the ISPs were involved in activity that is "on a par" with the previously prosecuted cases.

By approaching the ISPs instead of going straight to court to pursue individuals, the BPI might be signaling that its appetite for legal action against individuals is waning. It remains to be seen how the organisation will pursue these latest cases, if indeed it gets the information it is after, but it may be that getting any offending accounts closed will be enough.

Cable&Wireless refused to comment beyond its earlier statement, in which it said accounts used for illegal filesharing would normally be closed.

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