British Courts Order ISPs to Reveal Accounts of 59 Music Pirates

Dennis Faas's picture

Despite very liberal views on sex, drugs, and drinking age, Europe is becoming a conservative force in rooting out peer-to-peer (p2p) file sharing.

Just weeks after Spain made it a civil offense for individuals to download music and a criminal offense for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to allow it, the British music industry is now demanding that two ISPs give up the names of 59 accounts.

Although Spain remains the more aggressive of the two countries in weeding out file sharers, Britain's corporate community is forming its own strong-arm policy in making illegal music downloads a thing of the past. As early as April of last year, the British courts -- with a hand in the back from the music industry -- forced five ISPs to provide the names of 33 accounts responsible for some 72,000 illegal music uploads. At the time, the courts and corporate England were attempting to reduce the number of British citizens engaged in peer-to-peer file sharing, at that time rated at 18% of those aged 12-74. (Source:

The most recent crusade by British music has been led primarily by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) trade group, whose chairman Peter Jamieson recently stated, "it is unacceptable for ISPs to turn a blind eye to industrial-scale copyright infringement".

In the past, accounts labeled as blatant and overzealous file sharers were simply closed by ISPs. BPI is making a concerted effort to force those accounts into compensation, however. (Source:

Despite such goals, the music industry surprisingly appears to be the underdog in this legal battle. Similar attempts in the United States to reveal the account information of obvious music uploaders and downloaders were turned down in 2004. Even once groups like BPI are successful in obtaining a subpoena to release account information, those customers affected have the right to challenge before their names are released.

As digital music becomes more and more popular, it should prove interesting to see how this battle plays out between downloaders, their rights, and the wishes of international music corporations.

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