By the end of January, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in UK may start emailing subscribers to warn them on downloading pirated content.
According to an anti-piracy initiative named Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), some of the major ISPs in the UK like TalkTalk, Virgin Media, BT and Sky are going to send out warning emails to subscribers suspected to be involved in TV, music and movie piracy.
In the works since the summer of 2014, VCAP is a joint partnership between governments, ISPs and copyright holders. The aim of this partnership is to educate netizens about digital piracy in a non-threatening and educational way.
Set to kick off later this month, the programme will solely rely reports of infringement as reported by copyright holders rather than monitoring the activities of users themselves. The ISPs will then pinpoint the download of pirated content to a subscriber’s account and issue a warning email.
Torrents seem to be the primary target of VLAC, particularly taking into consideration how easy it is to identify IP addresses of users in P2P networks. However, the use of a Virtual Proxy Network (VPN) may anonymize the downloader, practically giving them immunity against the law.
There are, however, certain loopholes in the VLAC program. For instance, there have been several cases in the past in which judges concluded that an IP address was inconclusive evidence to for someone’s wrongdoing, particularly since anyone can piggyback on a person’s WiFi connection to download torrents.
Nevertheless, the ISPs have been given specific directives to threaten subscribers with a disconnection of service if they fail to pay heed to the warnings. This news comes amidst other operations conducted by local UK police, including crackdowns on pirates selling illegal services and modded hardware.
It is said that the war on piracy is an unwinnable war. Although the UK government seems to have made the right moves with the VLAC program, it is uncertain whether it will be fruitful, especially taking into account that users can simply mask their IP addresses to download torrents anonymously.