- 24 Jul 09, 17:07 GMT
Hull is heaven. That must be what some people in the music and movie industries were thinking this morning. They've been pressing internet service providers to take strong action against illegal file-sharing - with very little success to date.
Then it emerged that a broadband supplier in Hull was going even further than the copyright owners could have hoped. Karoo has been disconnecting people without warning, for offences such as downloading a movie using BitTorrent. Never mind three strikes and you're out - the policy that France has introduced amidst huge controversy and the UK government rejected in its Digital Britain report - this was one strike and you're out.
No other ISP in Britain has gone this far, and when I called the Internet Service Providers' Association they seemed taken aback. Even the music industry body, the BPI, seemed lost for words, merely suggesting that it was up to each firm to decide how to confront this issue. I'd suggested that they might like to relocate their headquarters - and those of the major record labels - to Hull as a gesture of gratitude.
But, I hear you ask, why don't Karoo's customers will simply up sticks and choose another broadband provider? Well, they can't - Karoo is the only one in town, owned by Kingston Communications, the company with the white phone boxes that has long been an anomaly in the UK's telecoms scene. Kingston has a monopoly, and while in theory other firms could come and share its exchange, they haven't chosen to do so.
Then tonight, there was a U-turn. After a day of publicity, following the excellent reporting of this story by my colleagues at BBC Radio Humberside, the company changed its policy.
"It's evident we have been exceeding the expectations of copyright owners, the media and internet users," said its statement.
So there'll be no more instant disconnections - though customers who ignore three written warnings will still face temporary suspension. That's still a tougher stance than just about any other ISP follows.
So we've seen what happens when one company has monopoly power - it can decide for itself how to operate. But we've also seen how much power angry consumers can wield when they believe that an injustice has been committed.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites