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UK Gives Up On Punishing Piracy

Written by Greg Moskovitch on July 27, 2014

From 2015, UK households that repeatedly pirate music and movies online will receive warning letters. In a move that has been criticised as “toothless” and “pointless,” citizens who illegally file-share will receive up to four warnings annually and there will be no sanctions for ignoring them.

Instead of punishing offenders, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) will seek to educate and inform individuals who illegally download. According to CVG, the alert letters will be informative in tone, rather than accusatory, suggesting where to find legitimate sources for media content.

The VCAP is part of a new scheme, Creative Content UK, a collaboration between content owners and ISPs, with the aim of promoting legal entertainment online. It will be backed by a three-year joint creative industry and government education campaign set to launch before the spring in 2015.

Harsher penalties for ongoing piracy, spearheaded by the creative industry and detailed in the Digital Economy Act 2010, included internet access being cut off and possible prosecution, but this was held back by what Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey called “significant technical obstacles.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable has lauded the new initiative, saying, “Education is at the heart of this drive [to ensure intellectual property rights are respected] so people understand that piracy isn’t a victimless crime – but actually causes business to fail, harms the industry and costs jobs.”

But some, like Steve Kuncewicz, head of intellectual property and media at Bermans LLP, are less optimistic. “If I were in the content industry I’d be very angry about this, because the Government is pretty much abrogating its responsibility to take any kind of action,” he told The Independent.

Back in June, CraveOnline reported on a potential “three-strikes” policy that was being considered for Australia, to help curb rampant online piracy Down Under. The “graduated response scheme” was reportedly one of the measures that was being considered by the Federal government.

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