The Government of the United Kingdom has decided to employ a different tactic in the war against online piracy. Surrender. Starting next year, a new scheme will be enacted called the voluntary copyright alert programme. People caught unlawfully file-sharing video games, music and movies will be issued with up to four warnings annually.
However, there will be no sanctions, fines, online access restrictions or legal repercussions for ignoring them. No further action will be taken, regardless of the number of offences or volume of downloaded material. Major Internet service providers like Sky, Virgin, Talktalk and BT are on board with the new bill.
British Phonographic Industry CEO Geoff Taylor says the aim of the scheme is all about “persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection. VCAP is not about denying access to the Internet. It’s about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice.”
The scheme is a part of the Creative Content UK initiative, which aims to promote legal sources of online entertainment. Potentially it will force media conglomerates to do the far more effective and practical move to combat piracy – offer easy, timely access to content at reasonable prices to everyone.
In 2010 attempts were made to introduce harsh penalties for piracy, but the bill proved ineffective. It’s estimated that almost a quarter of downloads in the UK are pirated content at present.
UPDATE: TorrentFreak reports that the story isn’t quite accurate. Copyright infringement is still in effect and the scheme itself is voluntary. They say “While no laws have been changed, in some instances it’s probably fair to say that VCAP will make it less likely that people will be pursued by the major record labels and movie studios in the UK. It doesn’t eliminate the threat, however.”