British internet subscribers will, this month, begin to receive educational anti-piracy alerts from their ISP if they are suspected of engaging in online copyright infringement. Unlike those we’ve seen in the past sent out by copyright protection firms, these alerts will not contain any threats or demands for money, but instead, try to redirect users to lawful alternatives including Netflix and Spotify.
The scheme, which falls under the Creative Content UK initiative, is supported by most of the major ISPs including BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, and Sky Broadband. Under the programme, these ISPs have agreed to adopt the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme which will involve sending millions of educational notices to those detected by copyright owners as infringing content via peer-to-peer networks.
A Virgin Media spokesperson said:
“ISPs will not carry out any monitoring of their subscribers’ activity. Right holders will not have access to any personal information about alleged infringers. Right holders will merely flag to participating ISPs individual IP addresses (in “Copyright Infringement Reports” - or CIRs) that have been detected and verified where those IP addresses have been used to upload and share infringing content using ISPs’ networks. Rights holders will do this by using proven electronic scanning technologies which will be searching publicly available information.”
The new alert system seems to acknowledge the fact that IP addresses aren’t proof of guilt. Many people who end up being flagged up for piracy activities (i.e. the bill payer) aren’t even responsible for sharing copyrighted content, in many cases, it's someone else on the network. It's expected that the first alerts in this programme will be sent out in the coming weeks.