Virgin Media threatens illegal downloaders

Around 800 customers have been sent warning letters

Internet service provider (ISP) Virgin Media has sent around 800 letters to customers warning them not to download music illegally.

The measure is part of a collaborative effort by the ISP and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) to reduce illegal downloading. The BPI told BBC News that “thousands” more letters would be sent.

Virgin Media are the only company to sign up to an initiative whereby users are subjected to a “three strikes and you’re out” policy with regards to illegal file-sharing. Customers who are warned three times have their internet connections severed.

The letter warns customers that their connections could be cut off – but the company have since backtracked, calling the wording of the letter “a mistake”.

Virgin Media customer Will McGree, who received one of the letters, was angered by the ISP’s actions. He told BBC Newsbeat: “It’s doomed to fail. Virgin Media 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 Virgin Media money to keep my internet connection protected and safe.”

Rival ISP Carphone Warehouse refused to sign up to the initiative, with a representative of the firm saying: “We believe that a fundamental part of our role as an ISP is to protect the rights of our users to use the internet as they choose.”