In a blow to the film and music industry, a new deal between UK ISPs will see frequent illegal downloaders sent strongly worded letters with no chance of fines or further legal action. BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media will send "educational" letters to people caught downloading illegally, with the first batch of alerts being [...]

In a blow to the film and music industry, a new deal between UK ISPs will see frequent illegal downloaders sent strongly worded letters with no chance of fines or further legal action.


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BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media will send "educational" letters to people caught downloading illegally, with the first batch of alerts being sent out in 2015.
The measures agreed upon are "considerably weaker" than what the media industry were seeking. The BPI, representing the British music industry, and the Motion Picture Association (MPA), representing the film industry were understood to be seeking warning letters would also include warnings of fines and legal action, but no such agreement has been included in the compromised deal.
Also these industry bodies wanted to be able to access a database of such 'offenders' so they could go after them by other legal means. However these wishes have been largely ignored in the final draft of the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (Vcap).
Between them the four ISPs can only send out a total of 2.5 million alerts per year, with that cap being adjusted when more ISPs join the scheme. A maximum of four alert letters can be sent to an individual customer, with each letter being more strongly worded than the last.
None of the letters will contain threats, nor will there be any consequences for anyone who receives a letter. After four letters have been sent no further action will be taken by the ISP.
Both the BPI, which represents the British music industry and the MPA, which represents film, have signed up to the deal according to documents seen by the BBC.
According to the BBC the ISPs are ‘ecstatic’ over this watered down final draft as it means they don't have to be seen to be strong-arm policing their customers. Crucially ISPs will not be allowed to reveal the identities of illegal downloaders.
Rights holders will be required to pay £750,000 towards each ISP taking part in the scheme, or 75 per cent of total costs, whichever is smaller. Administration costs of £75,000, or 75 per cent of total costs, will also be paid each year.
The new system will run for three years and will be regularly reviewed to see how well it is working.