FOUR OF THE UK's biggest ISPs will start sending send out messages later this month warning users suspected of piracy to cease their wicked ways and adopt acceptable services like Netflix and Spotify instead.
The messages, formally known as 'subscriber alerts' or 'educational emails', are part of the Government's Creative Content UK (CCUK) initiative that's intended to tackle copyright infringement. While CCUK is voluntary, it has been adopted by most of the UK's large ISPs, including Talk Talk, BT, Sky and Virgin Media.
As a CCUK spokesperson told the INQUIRER in November that the messages are intended to "help account owners and others who use their accounts to do the right thing and get their content from legitimate sources." How nice of them.
The ISPs will issue the warnings to customers spotted using peer-to-peer torrent services. However, identifying individual users who might be breaking copyright law by sharing videos and other files is fraught with difficulty. For a start, it is not illegal to use torrent services, and secondly, individual users cannot be easily identified from an IP address which may be shared by many people. Identifying the IP addresses of those using VPNs, TOR or other proxies is well nigh impossible too - at least cost effectively.
All of this explains why a voluntary alerts system has been adopted.
"ISPs will not carry out any monitoring of their subscribers' activity," a Virgin Media told ISPreview.co.uk.
"Right holders will not have access to any personal information about alleged infringers. Right holders will merely flag to participating ISPs individual IP addresses (in 'Copyright Infringement Reports' - or CIRs) that have been detected and verified where those IP addresses have been used to upload and share infringing content using ISPs' networks. Rights holders will do this by using proven electronic scanning technologies which will be searching publicly available information."
The spokesperson continued: "No CIR will be sent to an ISP until it has been confirmed by the right holders that copyright infringement has taken place - and no educational email will be sent to a subscriber until the IP address in the applicable CIR that 'triggers' the email can be matched to the correct active subscriber account."
Separately, the government is also working to persuade advertisers to stop placing ads on sites suspected of distributing pirated materials, this cutting off their revenue streams.
Previous government and industry efforts to stem the flow of pirated movies and music files have failed as it has proved difficult to prove the identity of the perpetrator in court. We predict this one will go the same way.
As well as the expensive burden of proof, the initiative appears to be behind the times as it only targets those using torrenting services; many people obtain pirated videos from streaming and direct download sites. μ
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