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Gov Commits Extra £2m to UK ISP Internet Anti-Piracy Campaign

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018 (9:48 am) - Score 1,260
piracy uk illegal internet download

The Government has pumped an additional £2 million of public money into the “Get it Right” campaign, which among other things has used a combination of educational advertising and internet piracy warning emails via broadband ISPs (“subscriber alerts“) to help discourage online copyright infringement.

The Get It Right from a Genuine Site scheme forms part of the voluntary government fostered Creative Content UK (CCUK) initiative, which prior to January 2017 had been gestating for several years (here and here) and initially started off with a public injection of £3.5m.

The scheme forms part of a wider package of initiatives that were design to address online copyright infringement, such as working with advertisers and payment processors to cut off revenue to “illegal” sites, encouraging search engines to play a more active role by NOT directing uses to sites that are known to offer infringing content and of course the continued ISP level blocking of piracy websites via court order.

Meanwhile the latest injection of £2m is expected to help this scheme continue until 2021, which is despite the fact that no public research exists to confirm whether or not one of its key provisions (subscriber alert emails) has had a positive impact. We researched this in April 2018 and were met with a wall of silence and copious buck passing (here). Seemingly there are not enough checks and balances involved.

Subscriber Alerts?

Just to recap. As part of this system several broadband ISPs (BT, TalkTalk, Sky Broadband and Virgin Media etc.) agreed to adopt the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), which was intended to “send millions of educational notices” to those detected by copyright owners as infringing their content via Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File-Sharing (e.g. BitTorrent) networks (such networks will often expose your IP address to the public and Rights Holders can track that).

Crucially these “alerts” were different from the bullying letters sent by dubious copyright protection firms (aka – “speculative invoicing“). Unlike those, the new messages didn’t contain any threats or demands for money and only acted as a tool for educating users about legal alternatives (Netflix, Spotify etc.). The idea being to discourage future infringement, as opposed to punishment.

Despite the lack of any public evidence to show what impact these messages have actually had, the Rights Holders claim that overall it has been a success.

Ian Moss, Director of the British Phonographic Industry, said:

“Get it Right from a Genuine Site is a great example of partnership between the creative industries, Government and the Internet Service Providers. The research into the campaign has shown it really makes a difference and that a positive campaign that is relevant to fans can help change the way people think about accessing content online.

With fantastic music services providing the whole history of recorded music, fans know that by choosing a legal service over illegal sites, the artists they are passionate about are rewarded for their art and creativity. The Government’s continuing commitment to the successful campaign is warmly welcomed.”

Sadly for now we still have the same four unanswered questions as we started out with last year.

ISPreview.co.uk’s “Get It Right” Questions

1. How many “subscriber alerts” have been issued by each of the relevant ISPs (BT, TalkTalk, Sky Broadband, Virgin Media etc.) to customers in its first year of operation since the system was introduced (i.e. Jan 2017 to Jan 2018)? Failing that, does any data on alert volumes so far exist at all?

2. How many customers have been issued with more than one “subscriber alert” message since the system was introduced?

3. Do you think any improvements could or should be made to the alert system?

4. What positive changes have been observed as a result of this specific activity, as well as that of the wider campaign?

Naturally gauging whether any reduction in copyright infringement had occurred would also be very difficult because those who receive a warning could easily adopt a different approach and mask their activity (VPN, Proxy Servers etc.), which might make it almost impossible for either ISPs or Rights Holders to track or tackle.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar TheMatt

    Silly idea. You can’t stop it. It has existed since the dawn of computers and literally every method to prevent it has been circumvented. What they really should do is put a levy on hard disks and media then the vampire lawyers can go litigate about something else.

  2. Avatar sam

    Another waste of money bit late to try and stop it . Got No Chance .

  3. Avatar Steve

    Total waste of time and money, and thankfully not a customer of any of the isp’s mentioned

  4. Avatar James doe

    I got an email off sky for grabbing some film all it did was make me go invest in a VPN.

    • Avatar Mike

      Perhaps that the best thing about all this, VPN reminder emails, save not just yourself from civil suite but GCHQ as well.

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