In an effort to reduce online piracy, the UK government is teaming up with internet service providers and copyright holders to warn and educate file-sharers with “Creative Content UK.” The goal is to decrease piracy over the long term.
The education program will be launching this summer with a PR campaign aimed at the general public. Its strategy is to point out accessible and legal ways to watch or listen to online content.
A CCUK spokesperson told Torrent Freak that showing users how easy it is to access legitimate, high-quality content could help make piracy irrelevant:
.. .work has started on the education component of the campaign, which helps to lay the ground and is designed to inform and raise consumer awareness and to engage with people around their love of content. The first activities are scheduled to start later this summer.
The education campaign will show consumers how to easily access content — such as music, film, TV, books, games, magazines, and sport — from authorized online sources which provide a superior user experience. So it makes sense for this to happen before the alerts program starts.
The Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), which is part of CCUK, will eventually be monitoring illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, mostly that by repeat infringers, and sending warning letters to those uploading large amounts of data to file sharing sites, writes Gareth Halfacree of Bit-Tech. According to the UK government, the millions spent on the CCUK program will be paid back with an improved economy.
Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said that the country must protect its creative industries:
It hurts businesses, consumers, and the wider economy both on and offline. Our creative industries are worth more than £7 billion to the UK economy and it’s important to protect them from online criminal enterprises. By toughening penalties for commercial-scale online offending we are offering greater protections to businesses and sending a clear message to deter criminals.
The UK government is also planning on increasing the maximum sentence for commercial-scale online copyright infringement from two years of imprisonment to ten, writes Colin Mann of Advanced Television. These changes to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 are a result of heavy lobbying from the music and film industries.
Last October, personal backup copies of CDs and DVDs were made legal, but this has been overturned, according to Thomas McMullan of Alphr.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe, Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), said:
Online or offline, intellectual property theft is a crime. With advances in technology and the popularity of the internet, more and more criminals are turning to online criminality and so it is imperative that our prosecution system reflects our moves to a more digital world. PIPCU therefore welcomes today’s consultation for harmonizing the criminal sanctions for online copyright infringement.
However, the legislation is controversial, particularly because many feel it doesn’t touch the heart of the issue — and it remains to be seen whether education will have a stronger impact.