Software and media piracy to be decriminalised in Britain

News Aaron Birch 24 Jul 2014 - 19:00

The British government is taking a different approach to piracy of the software and multimedia variety...

Dubbed the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme, or VCAP for short, a new scheme hatched by the British government will do away with criminal charges for file-sharers and downloaders, including torrents. This includes movies, music and games, and it takes effect in 2015.

The scheme will replace any legal proceedings and pursuits of individuals, and will instead take a more awareness-generating direction. Those who download such content will be sent four cautionary letters that explain such actions are illegal. If users ignore these warnings, no further action is to be taken, not even the threat of disconnection from the Internet, as has been tried in the past.

VCAP is all about “persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection,” said Geoff Taylor, the chief executive of the BPI. “VCAP is not about denying access to the internet. It’s about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice.”

It's not entirely surprising that efforts to stop piracy have changed to such a tolerant level. Threats of Internet loss and addition to a piracy database have done little to dissuade downloaders, and the new scheme will surely cost less to implement. According to Ofcom, almost a quarter of UK downloads involve pirated material.

Major UK ISPs, BT, Sky, Talk Talk, and Virgin have already joined VCAP.

VCAP will only cover end users of download and file-sharing sites. The actual sites and sharing services themselves will still be targeted.

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