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BPI Reveal UK Broadband ISPs Have Sent 1 Million Piracy Alert Emails

Friday, February 8th, 2019 (9:58 am) - Score 4,991

After two years of silence the British Phonographic Industry‘s (BPI) Director of Public Affairs, Ian Moss, has finally revealed that broadband ISPs in the UK have sent around 1 million internet piracy warning emails (“subscriber alerts“) to those they suspect of taking part in copyright infringement.

The alerts form part of the government fostered Creative Content UK initiative (Get It Right from a Genuine Site). As part of that several ISPs (BT, TalkTalk, Sky Broadband and Virgin Media etc.) agreed to adopt a Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), which began in January 2017 with the aim 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.

However, unlike the bullying letters sent by dubious copyright protection firms in prior years (aka – “speculative invoicing“), the new alerts were designed to be more educational (i.e. pointing end-users to legal alternatives) and didn’t contain any threats of punishment or demands for money.

On of our complaints about this scheme is that in two years of operation no public research or data has been published 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, as well as copious buck passing (here).

New Data

The good news is that the UK music industry – via the BPI – has now finally revealed some seemingly tentative data on the UK scheme, albeit while speaking to a conference in France of all places (nice to know that the French get UK data before we do). Luckily TorrentFreak was paying close attention to the live video stream and managed to extract some key information.

According to the BPI’s speech and accompanying slides, ISPs in the UK have so far sent around 1 million piracy alerts (roughly 500,000 per year) and less than 1% of the recipients have called for further information. Interestingly Ian Moss noted that those who received the alerts were also less likely to pirate, which would be a positive outcome. But no doubt some will have just gone further underground in order to better mask their activity.

Overall the campaign (covers more than just alerts) is said to have led to a 26% reduction in piracy, which was compared to a control group who weren’t covered by the campaign. Similarly it noted that piracy rates among the “exposed” group dropped from 57% to 42% in three years (the overall data goes back to 2015 and, as above, covers more than just the email alerts side of this campaign).

Hopefully at some point the BPI will publish a much more detailed account of the scheme’s impact upon internet piracy (we will be asking and shall update accordingly). In the meantime the Government recently committed an additional £2m of public money to keep the “Get it Right” campaign going until 2021 (here), which is on top of the £3.5m that it initially began with.

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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
15 Responses
  1. Jack says:

    Use a VPN while you torrent and head to sites like tpb unless you want to get a letter or email saying please stop torrenring.

  2. Mike says:

    These are basically buy-a-VPN alert emails.

  3. Moses says:

    I always mask my torrenting dosage/activity with VPN (always), I do not trust my isp like that when I am not doing torrenting ( i go public and do my normal day to day internet activity e.g. Youtube etc).

  4. davidj says:

    “1 million internet piracy warning emails”

    I imagine from what the possibilities of the subject line are likely to be (keywords like ALERT, IMPORTANT, WARNING and other typical SPAM nonsense) and the way my main email is setup (not that i would be affected because unlike the rest of the world ive never heard a note of copyrighted music on say youtube lol) it would file it appropriately without me having to do read it or do a thing.

    I thought they were beginning to catch up to how technology worked. Apparently though they do not know how well configured email works and they only want to punish those that hear the copyrighted music via SOME of the internet but not where the majority are likely to hear copyrighted music……… GOOD JOB :-$

  5. Timeless says:

    magic money tree provides again.. funny how they always have more money to protect wealthy company interests but none for the things that really matter…. kinda makes you wonder.

  6. 13thhour says:

    OK windows 10 updates uses Peer-to-Peer (P2P)

    1. Name says:

      Can you see the difference between Windows Updates and copyrighted content?

  7. John says:

    Nordvpn 3 year deal with quidco

  8. CarlT says:

    Paying for content using the various unlimited, unmetered services that are available. What a concept.

    1. Mike says:

      I was wondering where our resident contrarian had gone.

    2. Nrw_Londoner says:

      What’s contrarian about paying for something that you use, including music?

      If firms crackdown on pirated content and illegal downloads then prices reduce for the rest of us. As a bonus internet performance improves when BitTorrent traffic is removed.

    3. Mike says:

      Can you provide data to show that correlation between reduced piracy and lower prices?

    4. davidj says:

      “Paying for content using the various unlimited, unmetered services that are available. What a concept.”

      I think you will find technically speaking according to the law (which is all they seem interested in) you do not pay for the “content” but a right to listen to it.

      It is also far from as they describe “unlimited”. If i had paid for the “content” and it were “unlimited” i could legally store the “content” in a format compatible with my tape deck or CD player. Unfortunately for most of these services though the law and the terms you agree to do not permit that. Meaning you have neither paid for the “content” or its “unlimited” use.

      Technically speaking to the letter of copyright law you can not even play a DVD or Bluray region coded to one part of the world in another.

      Copyright law much like the music/movie industry practices is outdated. You RARELY if ever hear about authors and publishers ransoming johnny nobody for photocopying something at the library do you?

      Which technically speaking is still copyright theft and if you paid for the photocopy the library in question is also technically facilitating in copyright theft and worse just like some bootfair dvd dell boy is making money from their venture. How many of them get dragged through le’merde?

      People would be more sympathetic to the music and movie industry if for just one split second they actually thought logically and actually cared about customers.

  9. Jigsy says:


    Why would prices be reduced? There’s no money to be made in that.

    It’s like shrinkflation. Mars bars (or whatever) get smaller in size, but the price stays the same or goes up.

    1. davidj says:

      His thesis falls apart, the music industry claim their letters have reduced piracy, yet the price for movie and music subscription services online have not significantly reduced in fact they have increased over the past few years. Actual latest trend pressed media is also higher in price than it use to be. SO nope it does not and has not lowered prices.

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