UK anti-piracy campaign set to begin

Downloading graphic The email warnings form part of a larger scheme that aims to highlight the value of the UK's creative industries

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People in the UK who persistently pirate music and movies will soon start getting emails warning them that their actions are illegal.

The warnings are part of a larger scheme that aims to educate people about copyright and legal ways to enjoy digital content.

Starting next year, up to four warnings annually will be sent to households suspected of copyright infringement.

But if people ignore the warnings, no further action will be taken.

The warning system is the result of four years' wrangling between internet service providers (ISPs) and industry bodies representing music and movie-makers.

The original enforcement regime was outlined in the Digital Economy Act 2010 and called for "technical measures" to be taken against persistent pirates, including the suspension of net access after a series of warnings.

'Difficult to protect'

In addition, rights holders wanted warning letters to mention the potential penalties people would face for copyright infringement and access to a database of known illegal file-sharers.

The years of talks brokered by the government have led to the creation of the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (Vcap) that uses warnings via email or post.

The UK's biggest ISPs - BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky - have signed up to Vcap. Many smaller ISPs are expected to join later.

In addition, the UK government has pledged to contribute £3.5m to an education campaign that will promote legal ways to listen to music and watch movies.

Introducing the three-year educational scheme, Business Secretary Vince Cable said the initiative was all about supporting the UK's creative industries.

"It's a difficult industry to pin down and it's also difficult to protect," he said. "But unless you protect it then it's an industry that cannot function."

'Persuading the persuadable'

Government estimates suggest the UK's creative industries contribute £71bn to the UK economy and support about 1.68 million jobs.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, said it had been a "long road" to produce the Vcap agreement. He said that though it lacked punitive action it could still help bring about change in people's habits.

"It's about persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection," he said.

"Vcap is not about denying access to the internet. It's about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice," he said.

As well as taking part in Vcap, the BPI and other rights holders were working on other fronts to tackle persistent pirates, file-sharing sites and to suppress the economy that supported them, said Mr Taylor.

These initiatives included issuing notices to Google about links to pirated content, action in the courts to shut down websites that offer links to infringing content, and working with advertisers to limit the funds that flow to file-sharing sites.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    If I have bought a tool and lend it to a friend to use, it's legal.

    If I have bought a film and lend it to a friend to use, it's ILLEGAL!


  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    If people are still downloading movies, perhaps they should invent an even more incompatible format than blu ray. Make it so it barely pays on any players at all, and when it does, it keeps crashing, or the HDCP protection signal keeps dropping, forcing you to start again more often. Then that will get people off the torrent sites and into the stores to hand over cash at ever higher prices right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    We live in an information age where it is shared & copied billions of times, the idea that you can limit access to that info is frankly ludicrous and only a luddite would suggest it. Even the US govt cant keep their top secret info secret anymore. Soon it wont just be music & films etc, with 3D printing physical objects will start to be copied en mass. Copyright is dead & they know it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    What really gets my goat, is that I pay the full amount for sky TV, movies, sport the works. Plus I go to the cinema at least 30 times a year, as I own a teenager! But If i want a mobile copy of something I allready paid for, sometimes twice! I'm a criminal?

    You cant have it all your way! If you pay to watch something you should own it! This is not an onion that you only pay per skin!

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Downloading is not stealing, its file sharing! When you steal something, its gone. When you share it on the net, the original remains!

    When you buy a DVD, you pay for duplication; packaging; distribution; and retailers margin. Together, more than 50% of the total cost. Downloading cuts out 100% of those costs! Charge me for the contents of the file, fair enough. Charge me for the rest, no way!


Comments 5 of 12


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