Saturday, June 07, 2008

Virgin Attacks Internet Users

The corporate world is going for a nuclear strike against internet freedom, with Virgin Media (formerly NTHell) agreeing to ban illegal downloads. They will warn their users they could be prosecuted, and will institute a 'three strikes and you're out' policy, disconnecting repeat offenders. Filesharing is one thing and using the internet for clearly illegal purposes is another (why is this being discussed for music instead of pornography - oh yes this is all about money not about the principle), but this isn't theft. Whilst I stopped going anywhere near filesharing some time ago, preferring iTunes for its ease of use, relative value for money, and to support the Apple brand, I'm also aware that musicians make no money at all out of downloads, and almost nothing worth talking about from music sales full stop. So it's a complete con when Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the BPI says:

"Virgin Media is the first ISP to publicly address the problem. It is a socially responsible ISP and I think other ISPs will look at this and see progress. I am very encouraged they have engaged with us. They understand the rights of musicians," he said.

It's got nothing at all to do with musicians' rights. If it were a rights question there would be an attempt to generally police the internet by the ISP for all sorts of activity. Why not police porn for women's rights and children's rights, or movies for actors' rights or far right websites to protect gay and ethnic minority rights? Oh right because it's not about that, it's about a cheap and nasty money grab, and we'll just blame the users yet again rather than the technology which makes it possible. Of course the BPI could adapt its entire structure to be able to deal with the new technology, but is instead chooses to languish in the past and blame its own future customers for bypassing traditional delivery systems.

It's insidious, and the BPI should concentrate on producing more music which people actually want to buy. NTHell Virgin customers should leave now if they have any sense. The company isn't liable, and allowing interference like this in how it operates is an outrage.

The Business minister, Shriti Vadera, said: "This is a very welcome first step ... to educate consumers about unlawful file sharing, which damages our vibrant economy."

It does nothing of the sort. How stupid she is, but what do you expect from an investment banker who doubles as a politician?

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