Britain gives more leeway to online piracy sentencing (updated)

23 Jul 2014

The UK government and creative organisations has launched Creative Contents UK which will point those engaging in online piracy to alternative legal sources.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the organisation representing the UK music industry, in a joint effort between itself, other creative industries, and the UK government, have led to a significant change in policy from one of prosecution to ‘killing with kindness’.

As part of Creative Contents UK, a two-step policy change will come into effect from spring next year, the first of which will be a nationwide awareness campaign led by the industry with some financial help from the government.

The aim of this will be to change an age in which P2P services including Napster and torrenting programs such as uTorrent have consumers going straight to illegal services to access entertainment that may be unavailable because of rights restrictions or accessible only through a paywall.

Trying to change an ingrained mindset

This new campaign is particularly hoping to change this mentality and promote the idea of the importance of respecting copyright.

The second part of the initiative will introduce a less heavy-handed approach after years of attempts by the UK’s largest internet providers to send lawsuits to individual ISPs for downloading illegal content. As part of this agreement, ISPs will now send a series of letters warning them that illegal content may have been accessed on their ISP and if this should happen four times or more, they will be sent a letter telling them where to access legal content.

However, this does not mean that ISPs, if they so choose, are not allowed to file lawsuits against offenders and will no doubt come down heavy on individuals in the future as a show of force.

Speaking about the effect piracy had on his own finances with one of his songs, Crispin Hunt, co-CEO of the Featured Artist Coalition said, “I love it that people like the tune, but every musician I know would really appreciate it if those people who want music for free would go on Spotify with ads, or some such instead. If this initiative teaches fans to do that, it would really help give a bit back by rewarding the players, not the pirates, for the music they enjoy.”

Online piracy image via Shutterstock

Updated: This article has been amended to say that ISPs are still entitled to initiate lawsuits against those engaging in online piracy.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic