Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 11:46 UK

Policing internet 'not ISP's job'

Carphone Warehouse boss Charles Dunstone
Carphone Warehouse's Charles Dunstone says it is not his job to be an 'internet policeman'

The head of one of Britain's biggest internet providers has criticised the music industry for demanding that he act against pirates.

The trade body for UK music, the BPI, asked internet service providers to disconnect people who ignore requests to stop sharing music.

But Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse, which runs the TalkTalk broadband service, is refusing.

He said it is not his job to be an internet policeman.

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said that the music industry has been fighting a losing battle to prevent people from swapping songs for nothing on the internet.

Mr Dunstone, whose TalkTalk broadband is Britain's third biggest internet provider, said the demands are unreasonable and unworkable.

'No control'

He said: "Our position is very clear. We are the conduit that gives users access to the internet. We do not control the internet, nor do we control what our users do on the internet.

"I cannot foresee any circumstances in which we would voluntarily disconnect a customer's account on the basis of a third party alleging a wrongdoing."

He added the company would fight to protect the rights of its users using the law.

At the heart of this issue is ensuring that creators are fairly rewarded in the digital age
Geoff Taylor
BPI chief executive

The BPI denied it is asking ISPs to become internet police, saying the firms need to educate their customers not to steal music.

It also says that if they do not help with the fight against music piracy, then the government will bring in legislation to make them cooperate.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said: "At the heart of this issue is ensuring that creators are fairly rewarded in the digital age, and we passionately believe that working in partnership with ISPs to develop first-class, safe, legal, digital music services is the way forward.

"But such a partnership can't succeed if an ISP refuses to do anything to address the problem of illegal downloading on its network."

He added: "We believe that any socially responsible ISP should, as a core part of its business, put in place steps to help their customers avoid engaging in illegal activity, and deter those who knowingly break the law."

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