FOUR UK internet service providers (ISPs) have been invited to help create a database of allegedly illegal downloaders for music record labels and film companies.
Four firms - BT, Virgin Media, Bskyb and Talktalk - have been asked to provide information on a voluntary basis.
Typically the ISPs wait until ordered by a court before taking censorious action, and will, for example, only block websites after receiving the requisite legal orders.
Virgin Media told The INQUIRER that discussions are underway, but said that the propositions are no good.
"Music and film companies are speaking to broadband providers about how to address illegal filesharing but what they're currently proposing is unworkable," said Virgin Media spokesperson Emma Hutchinson.
Virgin Media said that discussions include suggestions for a voluntary letter writing campaign that would see it advise users that their connections might have been used to download content unlawfully.
Talktalk also confirmed the discussions, and also said that the preference was for a voluntary agreement.
"We are involved in discussions about measures to address illegal filesharing and ultimately would like to reach a voluntary agreement," said a spokesman.
"However our customers' rights always come first and we would never agree to anything that could compromise them."Bskyb described piracy as having an "erosive" impact, adding that it would work hard to tackle it.
"We continue to work with the industry to find an effective way to tackle the corrosive impact of determined piracy," said a Bskyb spokesman. "Part of this involves ongoing discussions on the right measures to deliver a fair, effective and lasting model."
BT said that it was open to suggestions that would not harm its users' rights to privacy.
"BT understands the importance of copyright to the creative industries and the UK economy, and we meet regularly with rights holders to discuss online piracy," said its spokesperson. "At the moment, implementing the DEA and blocking illegal sites are the prime instruments for ISPs, but BT is always open to exploring more effective ways of tackling piracy that don't encroach on the rights of our customers."
The BPI said that it is working for the good of British music, adding that any meetings that it has lined up will promote talent and investment.
"Record labels are key investors in British music, and, contrary to some media reports, we expect the forthcoming meeting with the prime minister to focus on a range of positive measures that will enable further investment in British talent, promote exports and support the continuing growth of the UK's digital music market," said a spokesperson.
There are other alternatives for countering 'piracy' that do not involve peering into the homes of UK citizens. Netflix is showing the latest episodes of Breaking Bad hours after they air in the US, and at HBO downloaders are viewed as being responsible for a good part of the buzz surrounding Game of Thrones. µ
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