Suspected pirates are about to get chased by their ISPs as the UK steps up enforcement of digital copyright infringements as digital marketing regulation becomes more sophisticated – but do you want your ISP knowing what you’re downloading?
Under the new scheme, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media will send “educational” letters to people caught downloading illegally, with the first batch of alerts being sent out in 2015.
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.
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.”
The measures agreed upon are “considerably weaker” than what the media industry were seeking. The BPI, representing the British music industry, and the Motion Picture Association (MPA), representing the film industry were understood to be seeking warning letters would also include warnings of fines and legal action, but no such agreement has been included in the compromised deal.
Also these industry bodies wanted to be able to access a database of such ‘offenders’ so they could go after them by other legal means. However these wishes have been largely ignored in the final draft of the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (Vcap).
Rights holders will be required to pay £750,000 towards each ISP taking part in the scheme, or 75 per cent of total costs, whichever is smaller. Administration costs of £75,000, or 75 per cent of total costs, will also be paid each year.
The new system will run for three years and will be regularly reviewed to see how well it is working.