Tiscali Rejects Record Industry Request

Internet service provider Tiscali on Tuesday rejected a request by the British record industry to hand over information on 17 subscribers accused of illicit file sharing. Tiscali refuted the British Phonographic Industry's claims that IP addresses were solid proof.

In announcing its efforts on Monday to solicit assistance from ISPs, the BPI called the move a significant development in its fight against piracy. It hoped that dealing with Internet providers would enable the group to speed the pace of filing suits against pirates.

However, Tiscali said the BPI had provided no evidence of actual downloading taking place, nor proof that the IP addresses were actually connected to a shared drive. One subscriber was referenced in a screenshot turned over by BPI, and Tiscali said it would contact that customer about the matter.

The company added that it would not turn over any subscriber names without a court order, but would suspend the user's account if the evidence warranted such an action. Tiscali also reiterated that it does not support file sharing and has worked to help develop legal online music services.

Along with 17 IP addresses on Tiscali's network, the BPI made similar accusations against 42 Cable & Wireless customers. C&W said it would investigate the matter and per its terms of service, would close any accounts being used for illegal file sharing.

The responses from both ISPs mean the BPI is going to have a tough time getting what it wants: the names of customers who were using the IP addresses in question. Those names would enable the record industry to file lawsuits against the specific individuals. At the moment, the group must make a big effort to uncover the identity of file swappers.

Still, the BPI could use the British legal system to obtain the customer names. A ruling in March mandated that ISPs must hand over information on individuals suspected of uploading large numbers of illegal files onto various P2P services. The decision, however, did not involve those simply downloading copyrighted music shared by others.

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