The government’s latest campaign against online piracy will begin today (17 Jan) in the most British way possible – with hundreds of politely worded letters.
BT, Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk are sending out “educational” missives to customers whose IP addresses have been used to pirate TV, films and music.
The BBC has seen a copy of the letter, which reportedly reads: “Get It Right from a Genuine Site’ has got in touch with us.
“Get it Right is a government-backed campaign acting for copyright owners who think their content’s been shared without their permission.
“It looks like someone has been using your broadband to share copyrighted material (that means things like music, films, sport or books).
“And as your broadband provider, we have to let you know when this happens.”
The letter also provides a list of the content in question and directs users to a website with “tips and advice on how to stop it happening again”.
Exactly what will happen to someone who ignores the missive, which is sent by email, is not yet clear. But it appears there are no immediate consequences.
Over the last few months, some law firms have been criticised for sending out letters that demand recipients pay an upfront fee of several hundreds of pounds, or face court action for pirating content.
But many lawyers have said the practice, nicknamed “speculative invoicing”, is deceitful, because it couldn’t be proved in court that the owner of the broadband connection was responsible for pirating the content.
Ernesto van der Sar, editor of piracy news site TorrentFreak, told the BBC most pirates have shifted towards direct download and streaming services.
“Since the piracy alerts only target peer to peer sharing, they will have less of an impact today than they would have had a few years ago.
“Due to the relatively small number of notices that will be sent to users and the fact that there are no consequences for getting ‘caught’, I expect the deterrent effect to be minimal.”