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UK Government Flings Millions at Anti-Piracy Campaign

The UK government has pledged £3.5 million ($6m) of taxpayers’ money to a new initiative, supported by major ISPs and multinational entertainment behemoths, designed to warn users not to illegally download copyrighted content.

Creative Content UK is effectively a compromise between the entertainment lobby, which wants strict penalties for online pirates, and ISPs which traditionally have lobbied against being forced to monitor and point out customers suspected of infringing copyright.
 
The scheme will be rolled out in two parts, noted a statement on the site of the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI).
 
The first, which will land before spring 2015, consists of an education campaign to be led by “content creators” designed to raise awareness about piracy and create “wider appreciation of the value and benefits of entertainment content and copyright”.
 
The second instalment to follow will be managed and funded by ISPs and entertainment industry players and aims to notify internet users when their accounts have been used to download, share or consume pirated content.
 
ISPs will be required to send an alert to the subscriber in question advising them of this and pointing them in the direction of legitimate content. There was no indication that any legal action or monetary fines will be imposed in the event this happens.
 
Creative Content UK was founded by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), the BPI and the country’s four main ISPs – BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and Virgin Media – among others.
 
The prepared statement didn’t mention online security, although one of the arguments frequently trotted out against piracy is that it exposes users to the unnecessary risk of malware infection, via dodgy P2P downloads.
 
Government representatives quoted in the release focused instead on the need to protect one of the UK’s “brilliant global success stories”, which they claimed contributes over £8m to the country’s economy every hour and “underpins” 1.5 million jobs.
 
“Too often that content is open to abuse by some who don’t play by the rules. That is why we are working with industry to ensure that intellectual property rights are understood and respected,” said business secretary, Vince Cable. “Education is at the heart of this drive so people understand that piracy isn’t a victimless crime - but actually causes business to fail, harms the industry and costs jobs.”
 
Of the ISPs quoted in the piece, it was Virigin Media that supplied the statement most neutral in tone.
 
“We have worked with the creative industry and other broadband providers on this government-backed campaign that will inform our customers about the value of content and help them find compelling, lawful sources online,” said COO Dana Strong.

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