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UK ISPs agree to menace their filesharing users

But menace them with what?

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Six UK ISPs are to start sending out menacing letters to hundreds of thousands of suspected music pirates as part of a government plan to tackle illegal filesharing, the BBC reports. The deal and the names of the six are due to be unveiled on Thursday, and the ISPs are also said to have committed "to develop legal music services."

Which, if they're to be popular and profitable as well, is possibly easier said than done. It not currently clear precisely what the threatening letters will be threatening the suspects with. The British government has repeatedly threatened ISPs with 'three strikes and you're out' legislation if they don't agree a voluntary system to disconnect illegal filesharers. Such a system is already being rolled out in France, which is also arguing the case for it in Europe.

Virgin Media* and BT have both threatened customers with disconnection, but generally ISPs aren't keen to shoulder the costs of monitoring or to adopt the role of policemen. Signing up to a 'voluntary' code is probably the only way they can avoid - or more likely mute - legislation.

According to the BBC this week's deal takes the form of a Memorandum of Understanding between the ISPs and the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR). Under it, ISPs are reported to have committed to achieving a significant reduction in illegal filesharing, and to educate their customers on copyright. They need only follow the shining examples of the RIAA and the BPI and lo, it will be done. (are you sure about this? - ed) ®

*Although VM said it had made the threats by mistake.

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