U.K. Providers and Trade Bodies Drafting Program to Address Infringement

A quartet of UK internet service providers have come to an agreement on how to address copyright infringement, according to the BBC. Virgin Media, BT, Sky and TalkTalk are drafting a program that will have the companies monitoring filesharing networks for infringing IP addresses. Those addresses will then be given to internet service providers, who will in turn send a series of "educational" notices to the suspected users. The companies are also in talks with the music and movie trade bodies BPI and MPA, though an agreement had yet to be reached.

“Content creators and ISPs have, with the support of government, been working in partnership to develop a joint awareness programme that would support the growth of legal digital entertainment services, reduce illegal downloading and create the best possible customer experience online," a spokeperson for BPI said. "Discussions are ongoing and no agreement has been reached -- reports that an announcement is imminent are wide of the mark. We will comment further if and when any agreement is in place."

“We’re engaged in conversations with rights holders and other broadband providers about a proposed Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme," a Virgin Media spokesperson said.

Rights holders have agreed to pay £750,000 ($1.3 million) towards each ISP to set up the system, or 75% of the total costs, whichever is smaller, according to the BBC. A further £75,000 ($125,000) -- or 75% of total costs -- will be paid each year to cover administration costs.

Vcap is a response of sorts to the Digital Economy Act, introduced in 2010, which drew criticism for a provision that would allow infringing users to have their internet service disconnected.


The drafted program is a mirror of the Copyright Alert System, implemented in the U.S last year. CAS was also a collaboration between trade bodies and ISPs, resulting in a series of six notices to users. Each notice was to be increasingly strong in its wording, eventually leading to service slowdowns. There was never a danger of service termination with CAS; after the sixth notice, users were returned to normal service. It appears that the same is true of Vcap.

The UK has undertaken a wholesale revamping of how it deals with copyright and copyright infringement over the past few years. The process began three years ago, when professor Ian Hargreaves conducted a comprehensive analysis of copyright in the country, providing government with a point-by-point series of suggestions how to streamline nearly every aspect of the country's intellectual property management. The analysis moved forward a year later with the Hooper Report, which looked at the changes in more detail.

Last March, the first phase of the rehaul was unveiled, the so-called "Copyright Hub," meant to point rightsholders and the curious to resources available for securing rights and knowledge bases about the system.


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