UK web pirates to receive warnings - via post and email

By Graeme Burton
21 Jul 2014 View Comments
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Internet users suspected of illegally downloading games, television programmes and films can soon expect to receive warning emails from their internet service providers (ISPs).

It follows a deal between organisations representing ISPs and media companies. Starting in 2015, ISPs will send up to four warning letters or emails to households suspected of copyright infringement.

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However, if people ignore the warnings, no further action will be taken - although details will be added to a database of "known illegal file sharers" and action at a later date cannot be ruled out.

The scheme is intended to enforce the Digital Economy Act 2010, which was supposed to cut the internet connection of people identified as "persistent pirates". Critics say that the Act, though, demonstrates politicians' ignorance of technology, how it works, and the difficulty of building a case cast iron against supposed illegal downloaders.

The talks were brokered by the government, with major ISPs signing up to a Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (Vcap) that will send warnings via email or post - even though there can be no guarantee that the email will be seen or read.

The government is also planning to run a £3.5m campaign to educate and promote legal ways to download and consume music, films and games.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the music industry organisation, the BPI - formerly known as the British Phonographic Industry - claimed that the aim was to make parents more aware of what their children might be downloading over their household internet connection, and changing people's attitudes.

The scheme is supported by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable, who said that the media industry in the UK needed to be protected.

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