THE UK GOVERNMENT has welcomed the main internet service providers' and media industry bodies' plans to try to reduce 'piracy' through an "education programme".
This cajoling information push follows draconian laws, and the threat of huge fines and prison sentences. Still, if those sanctions did not work, then perhaps the subtle word will.
The scheme, which includes Virgin Media, Talktalk, Sky and BT, is sponsored by the government. Business secretary Vince Cable was very glad to have the industry backing.
"The creative industries in the UK are one of our brilliant global success stories. We have unrivalled creativity - from record breaking musicians to box office films - that excite and inspire people all over the world. Yet too often that content is open to abuse by some who don't play by the rules," he said.
"That is why we are working with industry to ensure that intellectual property rights are understood and respected. Education is at the heart of this drive so people understand that piracy isn't a victimless crime - but actually causes business to fail, harms the industry and costs jobs."
Cable and UK culture secretary Sajid Javid said that the plans should "raise awareness" of copyright by notifying home users when their internet connections have been used to share copy protected material. This sounds a lot like the warning letters idea that we have seen before. This time there is no mention of a three strikes and you're out result, however.
"We are committed to raising awareness of the importance of protecting copyright online and helping our customers find legal, compelling sources for the music, TV and movies they love," said Virgin Media in a blog post.
"As part of this commitment, we will alert our customers if unlawful file-sharing appears to have taken place on their broadband connection. Any alert will clearly recognise the account holder may not have engaged in copyright infringement themselves and we will be informative in tone, offering advice on where to find legitimate sources of entertainment content."
The government is so keen on cracking the 'piracy' nut that it has bunged £3.5m into the campaign.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive at the BPI and a very keen supporter of this sort of thing, is glad of his organization's involvement, and the move to education about legal alternatives.
"This landmark initiative marks the first time that entertainment companies, broadband providers and the government have come together in a major campaign to engage consumers through their passion for music, film, TV and other content and to support them in enjoying it safely and legally online," he said. "It should mark a real step forward for digital entertainment in the UK."
The music and film industries, ISPs and government have banded together under the name Creative Content UK. The scheme is expected to require the sending out of "millions" of notifications, which suggests that all anti-piracy efforts to date have been less than successful. This "educational campaign" will last for three years. µ