Virgin Media to cut off persistent pirates

Virgin Media will suspend the internet connections of persistent illegal file sharers as a "last resort".

It was announced as part of a new download subscription service that allows customers to stream and download as many music tracks as they want from Universal Music's back catalogue, for a fee.

To protect Universal Music's intellectual property, persistent illegal files sharers will temporarily be suspended from internet access.

Virgin Media said: "No customers will be permanently disconnected and will not depend on the network monitoring or interception of traffic."

Virgin Media's stance comes as the Digital Britain report revealed that the government was aiming to reduce unlawful file sharing by more than 70 per cent, and was considering giving Ofcom powers to reduce copyright infringement.

ISPs would be required to notify account holders when their account was downloading pirated material, as well as keep data on the most serious of the infringers.

Last year, Virgin Media agreed with the BPI to begin writing to customers where there were allegations of illegal file sharing.

As for keeping data on customers, all ISPs are required to retain information for a period of 12 months under the EU's Data retention Directive, which Virgin Media said it was complying with, as well as any future legislation.