British ISPs will send users who repeatedly download pirated material written warnings, offering advice on where to find “legitimate sources of entertainment content.”
The initiative will begin sometime after the spring of 2015, according to a report by GigaOm, as part of a consumer awareness drive run by Creative Content UK, a partnership between ISPs and right-holders groups.
According to TorrentFreak, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) will only apply to P2P file-sharing.
The letter-writing campaign is more about education, as there are no real consequences to infringers who receive the warnings. Users will receive up to four warnings per year.
The US enacted a similar warning system in 2013, though the US system does include consequences for copyright infringers. The US system offers a series of warnings, and the final warnings result in temporary measures including slower bandwidth speeds, a downgraded Internet service package, or a redirection to a page for a set period of time until the account holder reviews education materials.
There is a belief that these warning systems will deter users from downloading pirated content, but with no concrete consequences for the system in the UK, it is likely that at least some of the notices will be ignored.
So far, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have agreed to send warnings to customers who are infringing copyrights. Smaller ISPs are being encouraged to get involved in the program as well.
“BT is committed to supporting the creative industries by helping to tackle the problem of online piracy while ensuring the best possible experience for its customers,” BT consumer CEO John Petter said. “That’s why we’ve worked very hard with rights-holders and other leading ISPs to develop a voluntary programme based on consumer education and awareness which promotes the use of legal online content.”