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UK ISPs and the entertainment industry are said to be near to agreeing a deal to combat piracy. After four years of negotiations, Virgin Media have said they will send “educational” letters to people who illegally download copyrighted music, television or films.
Under the voluntary copyright alert programme (Vcap), the music and movie industry bodies will monitor file-sharing networks for copyright infringements, recording the IP addresses of downloaders. The IP addresses will be given to UK ISPs who in turn will send out a warning letter about the alleged infringement to the registered subscriber of that broadband connection. The first letters will be sent out in 2015.
BT, Sky and Virgin Media said they were in talks with the BPI and the Motion Picture Association (MPA) over Vcap, but that an agreement had not yet been made.
The media industry originally wanted Vcap a three strikes approach threatening alleged abusers with internet throttling and, eventually, legal action.
Instead, the draft agreement, reported by the BBC, suggests that no more than 2.5 million letters will be sent out each year and that they will have an “educational” tone.
Those who download illegal material can expect to receive up to four alerts. The cost of the system will be shared between the rights holders, who will contribute £750,000 (€883,000) or 75 per cent of the cost for each ISP, with a further £75,000 or 75 per cent of the costs a year to cover the running of the service.
Vcap was proposed as an alternative to the 2010 Digital Economy Act, which envisioned repeat copyright infringers having their internet connections terminated.