Skip to main content

Internet piracy warning scheme will kick off next year in UK

Those who have allegedly downloaded copyrighted media will be getting warning messages in the UK next year, through an anti-piracy scheme which has long been discussed, and is finally being implemented.

The BBC reports that from 2015 onwards, households who are suspected of illegal downloading will get up to four email warnings per year. However, the warnings will be educational by nature, and ignoring them won't have any consequences – no action will actually be taken beyond the warning messages.

This is the result of the Vcap system (Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme), which some have accused of being too watered down to effectively deal with piracy.

The music and film industry bodies, the BPI and MPA, wanted the warnings to underline possible legal action – but ISPs overruled this approach in favour of something more light-touch in terms of tone. Rights holders also wanted access to a database of known copyright flaunters, but this idea was again quashed by the UK's major ISPs who have signed up to the scheme (Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and BT).

The government is also coughing up £3.5 million to fund an educational campaign promoting the legal ways folks can watch films and listen to music.

While CEO of the BPI, Geoff Taylor, said it lacked punitive teeth, he told the BBC that he hoped Vcap would change people's habits. He said: "It's about persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection."

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

As we've previously noted, some believe the BPI and MPA have let this light-touch approach in so it will fail to be effective, and then further down the line they can use this failure to argue a case for much more punitive action (such as the threat of the removal of an offender's net connection).