The British record industry has achieved a breakthrough in its ongoing engagement with Internet service providers to help rein in illegal filesharing.

Virgin Media and the BPI have agreed on a new "education campaign" to help the media group's broadband customers legitimately download music on their network.

Through the new campaign, announced today, Virgin Media customers who have been found to distribute music files in breach of copyright will receive informative letters, one from each party.

User accounts will be identified to Virgin Media on the basis of information supplied by the BPI.

Virgin Media will distribute the letters, without the need to disclose customer names and addresses to the BPI.

"Education is absolutely key to reducing the extent of illegal downloading, and we are pleased to be working with Virgin Media on this campaign," comments Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI. "We believe that new partnerships with ISPs can help build an Internet in which music is properly valued. That will benefit not just musicians, songwriters and labels, but all Internet users who love music." The joint campaign, he says, is "the first step towards achieving that goal."

ISPs in Britain are under government pressure to find a voluntary solution with the industry, or face legislation from early 2009.

According to the BPI, more than 6.5 million consumer broadband accounts in the U.K. are used to access music without permission using peer-to-peer services.

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