UK anti-piracy campaign set to kick off in 2015

A UK anti-piracy campaign aimed at educating people about copyright and legal ways to download digital content will begin in 2015

A UK anti-piracy campaign aimed at educating people about copyright and legal ways to download digital content is set to begin in 2015.

Emails will be sent to UK internet users who pirate films and music, warning them that their actions are illegal.

Those suspected of copyright infringement will be sent up to four warnings a year, but the campaign does not include any punitive action, reports the BBC.

Earlier this year, music and film industry bodies backed away from demands for punitive measures such as disconnecting offenders from the internet after three warnings in favour of an education campaign.

In June 2013, France decided to end its controversial policy of cutting off suspected pirates from the internet, with the government admitting the law was too difficult to enforce.

Similar provisions in the UK Digital Economy Act were dropped after months of complaints and legal challenges over costs by internet service providers.

The latest anti-piracy move in the UK comes after four years of government-brokered talks between internet service providers (ISPs) and bodies representing the film and music industries.

The resultant Voluntary Copyright Alert Progamme (Vcap) is supported by the largest UK ISPs , the UK recorded music industry trade association BPI, and the Motion Picture Association (MPA).

BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky have signed up to Vcap, and smaller ISPs are expected to join later.

The education programme to promote legal ways to access digital content will be funded by the BPI, MPA and a £3.5m contribution from the UK government.

Introducing the three-year educational scheme, UK business secretary Vince Cable said the initiative was all about supporting the country’s creative industries.

According to government estimates, the UK's creative industries contribute £71bn to the UK economy and support about 1.68 million jobs.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said: "Vcap is not about denying access to the internet. It is about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice."

However, he said the BPI and other copyright holders are working on other fronts to tackle persistent pirates, file-sharing sites and suppress the economy that supports them.

This includes issuing notices to Google about links to pirated content, court action to shut down websites with links to infringing content, and working with advertisers to block funds to file-sharing sites.

In July 2013, various technology firms, including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, joined an initiative to target websites that profit from piracy by cutting off the cash they get from adverts.

This means ads will be withdrawn from sites pirating music and films or selling counterfeit goods, as many of these sites rely on ad revenues to cover their running costs.

Research by Google found that advertising funded 86% of music file-sharing sites.

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