Labels And ISPs Reach ‘Understanding’

The U.K. government has brokered a deal that will see record labels and Internet Service Providers work together to clamp down on illegal file-sharing.

Both sides have reportedly signed up to a voluntary code of practice that includes sending out hundreds of thousands of letters to people known to be illegally downloading music and movies.

Although the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) is heralding the move as "a significant step forward," it stops short of the "three strikes and you’re out" policy it has called for, which would disconnect users who ignore warning letters.

The agreement is in the form of a "memorandum of understanding" (MOU) and has been signed by the BPI, on behalf of the hundreds of U.K. record labels it represents, and Internet companies. The Motion Picture Association of America has also signed on.

Alongside the MOU, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is beginning a consultation process over a new law that would require ISPs to deal effectively with illegal file-sharing.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said his organization has always believed that a partnership is the best way to deal with illegal file-sharing, and cited the education campaign it launched with Virgin Media in May.

Virgin sent thousands of letters to customers warning them against illegally downloading songs from the Internet. The new MOU will see the rest of the big six providers following suit.