UK internet service providers in cooperation with the entertainment industry are near to closing a deal to fight piracy.
It took four years of negotiations for BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media to say that they will send educational letters to users who illegally download copyrighted films, music or television.
The initiative is called the voluntary copyright alert programme (Vcap), under which the music and movie industry institutions will monitor file-sharing networks for copyright infringements, by recording the IP addresses of those who download and share copyrighted content.
The IP addresses, which identify individual connections, will be given to these four UK ISPs mentioned above who will send out a warning letter to their registered users about the alleged infringement. The letters would start going out in 2015.
BT, Sky and Virgin Media said that they were interacting with the BPI – the British music industry, and the Motion Picture Association (MPA) about the Vcap, however, an agreement still needs to be made.
The initial intentions from the media industry for Vcap was to target the assumed continuous copyright infringers with letters notifying them of a possible punishable measures. A database with access to such infringers was also requested, which could provide room for legal actions against them.
Instead, the draft agreement indicates that there will only be 2.5 million letters sent out each year. While the language in these warnings designed to educate the abusers will increase, it is capped to four warnings per account.
The programme will require some serious finances. The rights holders will need to contribute £750,000 or 75% of the cost for each ISP, whichever is smaller, additionally an annual coverage of £75,000 will need to be provided for the administration of the service.
Voluntary copyright alert programme was suggested as an alternative to the 2010 Digital Economy Act, which anticipated continuous copyright infringers having their internet connections terminated.