UK ISPs to Start Sending ‘Piracy Alerts’ Soon

Early 2017 will see the long-awaited start of a broad UK anti-piracy effort. With help from copyright holders, ISPs will send email notifications to subscribers whose connections are allegedly used to pirate content. These "alerts" will educate copyright infringers about legal alternatives in the hope of decreasing piracy rates over time.

uk-flagIn an effort to curb online piracy, the movie and music industries reached an agreement with the UK’s leading ISPs to send warnings to alleged copyright infringers.

Mimicking its American counterpart, the copyright alert program will monitor the illegal file-sharing habits of UK citizens with a strong focus on repeat infringers.

The piracy alerts program is part of the larger Creative Content UK (CCUK) initiative which already introduced several anti-piracy PR campaigns, targeted at the general public as well as the classroom.

The plan to send out email alerts was first announced several years ago when we discussed it in detail, but it took some time to get everything ready. This week, a spokesperson from CCUK’s “Get it Right From a Genuine Site” campaign informed us that it will go live in first few months of 2017.

It’s likely that ISPs and copyright holders needed to fine-tune their systems to get going, but the general purpose of the campaign remains the same. This means that the focus lies on education.

While it may be quite scary for people to see that their piracy habits are being tracked and reported, the campaign stresses that they prefer the carrot over the stick.

“Educational emails will help account owners and others who use their accounts to do the right thing and get their content from legitimate sources,” the spokesperson informed us.

The alert emails will be similar to what we’ve seen in the United States, except that there are no direct punishments tied to them. They will, however, list details about the pirated files that were shared and how this can be prevented in the future.

“As well as providing links to help the customer find legal sources of content in future, the email will direct the user to further resources to answer any questions they may have about how the information was obtained and how to make sure their account is not used to infringe content again,” we were told.

“We realize that some people might not realize their account has been used to share files, for example if their children have been illicitly downloading content and then sharing it without their parent’s knowledge.”

Pointing people towards one of the many legal alternatives is a central goal, through which CCUK hopes to decrease piracy rates over time.

The “Get it Right From a Genuine Site” team is confident that they can drive some significant change. Several benchmark measurements were taken prior to the campaign, so its effectiveness can be properly measured once it’s underway.

Talks about this type of alert system have been on the agenda for almost a decade. Ironically, however, now that it’s getting close to finally being implemented, P2P file-sharing is on the decline.

Over the past years, most pirates in the UK have shifted towards direct download and streaming services. Since the copyright alerts only target P2P sharing, it will have less of an impact today than it would have a few years ago.

To what degree the new anti-piracy campaign will convert pirates into paying customers has yet to be seen. In any case, it won’t pass by unnoticed.

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