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Whatever happened to... Three Strikes?

BPI hasn't started shooting. Yet.

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Sharp-witted readers may be wondering what happened to the great stand-off between the British recording business and the nation's biggest ISPs. You'll recall that back in March, the BPI set ISPs a 14-day deadline to "take action" - or face court injunctions over copyright infringement.

Then, nothing. Last week, rumours swirled around that the phoney war was finally over, and the real one had begun: with Carphone Warehouse, which operates the TalkTalk ISP, the recipient of the nastygram.

Carphone's CEO Charles Dunstone seems to relish a fight over freetards. In early April, he accused the music business of making "unreasonable and unworkable" demands.

But both parties deny the shooting outbreak. The BPI told us this:

"We wrote to Carphone Warehouse back in March, proposing how we could work in partnership to help Talk Talk customers avoid the illegal use of their broadband accounts. We firmly believe that most people don't inadvertently want their internet accounts to be used illegally, and that socially responsible companies will help their customers in this respect. Carphone Warehouse has so far rejected our offer – unlike all of the other major ISPs with whom we are in active discussions. We are exploring all of the options available to us."

Carphone's PR team told us that if they were being sued, they'd surely know.

Stranger things have happened than a company's legal team receiving an injunction, and forgetting to tell the flaks - but we'll take them at their word.

Carphone has far deeper pockets than its opponent. Last year, the retail giant turned over £4.5bn, recording a profit of £485m. The group has earmarked £1.1bn for expansion alone. By contrast, the earnings from recorded music in Britain - once retailers have taken their cut - is believed to have fallen below £1bn.

Last year a case brought by Belgian publishers (not record companies) achieved the result that the BPI desires. There, ISPs must take infringement notices seriously.

So the stand-off continues. ®

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