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Virgin warns 800 punters for file-sharing

'Important. If you don't read this, your broadband could be disconnected'

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The BPI has written to 800 Virgin Media customers warning them to stop sharing music files or risk losing their broadband connection.

The letters came in an envelope marked: "Important. If you don't read this, your broadband could be disconnected." But Virgin told Radio 1's Newsbeat that the phrase was a mistake and the letters were part of an education campaign. Virgin said it was not making any kind of accusation and that it was possible someone other than the account holder was involved.

When the Virgin campaign was revealed last month the company assured us that the letters were not part of a "three strikes" process. The BPI has pushed ISPs to warn users three times for copyright infringement before cutting off their broadband.

The individuals were identified by the BPI which, as we exclusively revealed , is working on a similar scheme with BT. The BPI letter sent on by BT warns of further action including "litigation and suspension by BT your internet connection".

At least one Virgin customer who received a letter in June told Newsbeat he was certain it was not him or his flatmates who were responsible for downloading the Amy Winehouse song. He said it was possible that someone had used the flat's wireless network.

Will McGree said: "The campaign is doomed to fail. Virgin will lose a lot of customers over this because people don't like to be accused of stealing music over their morning coffee.

"It made me feel betrayed. I was under the impression that I paid a broadband company to keep my internet connection protected."

The BPI has been busy lobbying the government for stronger laws against file sharing. But the government seems to be resisting the pressure and is instead pushing the music industry and ISPs to get talking to find a licensed, and paid for, form of file sharing.

Although BT and Virgin are supporting the BPI's approach others, notably Carphone Warehouse, are refusing to co-operate.

A survey last month found 63 per cent of internet users were downloading unlicensed music.

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