Stop being bad! says the internet

22 July 2014

illegal-downloading Them people who constantly download and share pirated content will start receiving warning letters from their internet service providers from next year.

Anyone whose connections are believed to have been used to hawk copyrighted material, could receive up to four letters a year, although there are no sanctions as yet for those who continue to ignore the warnings.

The aim of the letters is to boost consumer awareness of the wide array of legitimate online content services and help reduce online copyright infringement, or in other words, stop people nicking stuff.

The warning system, known as the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), is the result of years of negotiations between ISPs and industry bodies representing the UK's creative industries, including the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and the BPI (British Recorded Music Industry).

There had been the original enforcement regime, which was outlined in the Digital Economy Act, which was rushed through parliament under the previous Labour government in 2010.

That Act called for an escalating series of sanctions on persistent file-sharers, starting with sending letters to illegal downloaders and culminating in slowing down the connection speed of offenders or temporarily suspending their connections.

Yet no one really gave much of monkeys, as it was heavily opposed by ISPs, who argued that the anti-piracy measures were inconsistent with European law and would breach the privacy of their customers, as well as driving up costs for providers and consumers.

The consortium of companies that make up Creative Content UK, said it will play an important role in educating consumers about the huge range of entertainment content that is available from legal and licensed sources.

It will also operate within the wider context of programmes aimed at combating copyright infringement, such as the blocking of illegal sites and working with advertisers and payment processors to cut off revenues to such sites.

Let's tolerate some words from Business Secretary Vince Cable: "The creative industries in the UK are one of our brilliant global success stories. Yet too often that content is open to abuse by some who don’t play by the rules."

"That is why we are working with industry to ensure that intellectual property rights are understood and respected. Education is at the heart of this drive so people understand that piracy isn't a victimless crime – but actually causes business to fail, harms the industry and costs jobs."

Everyone involved seems quite into it, as Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI described it as "a real step forward for digital entertainment in the UK", and Dido Harding, chief executive of TalkTalk, said it would help consumers "make the right choices about how they access content".

Figures published by communications watchdog Ofcom last year revealed that more than 1.5 billion files were downloaded illegally in the UK in 2012, accounting for almost a quarter (22 per cent) of all content consumed online.

Only a quarter of the people who consumed the most illegal content said they would stop if they thought they might be sued, according to Ofcom, and one in five said they would stop if they received a letter from their ISP telling them that their account had been used for copyright infringement.

Although one would imagine you'd have to shifting some serious amounts of unpaid-for and effectively stolen goods for the ISPs to take notice.

Four strikes and you're... well... nothing will happen.


  • patrick
    Even if they do bring in penalties, those who are determined will switch to encrypted VPNs - which will still be way cheaper than paying the current hefty music/film subscriptions. The music industry need to concentrate on making music/film cheaper and easier to access. People will pay less but will access far more content than in the past era of CDs/DVDs - if it's easy and cheap then the vast majority will pay.
  • Alexis
    The only point of this is to get parents to tell their kids off.
  • Jessie J.
    We don't need your money, money, money. We just wanna make the world dance, forget about the price tag. Don't download my song for free though. You bunch of little MoFo's. La La la la lala hey! ect, ect. Flex n' chill wit da weed!!

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