Stepping up its campaign against illicit file-swappers, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has moved from targeting individual users to putting pressure on their ISPs. The BPI has just announced that 59 accounts suspected of large-scale piracy have been reported to two ISPs, which are expected to deal with the issue.
17 requests went to Tiscali, while another 42 were sent to Cable & Wireless. The ISPs offer no guarantee that anything will be done, but the BPI wants to move faster against suspected file-swappers than is possible in the court system. They also want to paint the ISPs as complicit with the swapping through their own inaction. As they put it, “While the BPI retains the right to pursue cases against individual uploaders, the move against ISPs who have so far failed to take effective steps to stop illegal filesharing marks a significant development in the BPI campaign—allowing the record industry to deal with a greater volume of cases more quickly and efficiently.”
Looking at their court records, one can see why they would prefer to change strategy. The BPI has filed only 139 charges against file uploaders—merely a drop in the bucket. Only four of these cases have actually proceeded to trial, while another 111 have been settled out of court for a few thousand pounds each. Given the amount of resources that must be devoted to finding and prosecuting such individuals, it makes more sense for the organization to forget about trying to extract money from defendants and simply concentrate on shutting them down.
The BPI now gathers IP addresses and supporting documentation on egregious offenders and simply turns it over to the ISPs for action. This means that the BPI does not know the identities of the people they target, and they are not trying to get a subpoena to find out. In a press release, the BPI indicates that all they care about is getting these users to sign “undertakings agreeing to stop unauthorized filesharing.”
Whether the new, more pragmatic approach bears fruit largely depends on how the ISPs handle the matter. Neither Tiscali nor Cable & Wireless will be excited about devoting resources of their own to sifting through complaints from the BPI, but neither do the ISPs want to be portrayed as looking the other way while users hoist the Jolly Roger on their networks.