BPI Reveal UK Broadband ISPs Have Sent 1 Million Piracy Alert Emails

uk pirate music

After two years of silence the British Phonographic Industry‘s (BPI) Director of Public Affairs, Ian Moss, has finally revealed that broadband ISPs in the UK have sent around 1 million internet piracy warning emails (“subscriber alerts“) to those they suspect of taking part in copyright infringement.

The alerts form part of the government fostered Creative Content UK initiative (Get It Right from a Genuine Site). As part of that several ISPs (BT, TalkTalk, Sky Broadband and Virgin Media etc.) agreed to adopt a Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), which began in January 2017 with the aim to “send millions of educational notices” to those detected by copyright owners as infringing their content via Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File-Sharing (e.g. BitTorrent) networks.

However, unlike the bullying letters sent by dubious copyright protection firms in prior years (aka – “speculative invoicing“), the new alerts were designed to be more educational (i.e. pointing end-users to legal alternatives) and didn’t contain any threats of punishment or demands for money.

On of our complaints about this scheme is that in two years of operation no public research or data has been published to confirm whether or not one of its key provisions (subscriber alert emails) has had a positive impact. We researched this in April 2018 and were met with a wall of silence, as well as copious buck passing (here).

New Data

The good news is that the UK music industry – via the BPI – has now finally revealed some seemingly tentative data on the UK scheme, albeit while speaking to a conference in France of all places (nice to know that the French get UK data before we do). Luckily TorrentFreak was paying close attention to the live video stream and managed to extract some key information.

According to the BPI’s speech and accompanying slides, ISPs in the UK have so far sent around 1 million piracy alerts (roughly 500,000 per year) and less than 1% of the recipients have called for further information. Interestingly Ian Moss noted that those who received the alerts were also less likely to pirate, which would be a positive outcome. But no doubt some will have just gone further underground in order to better mask their activity.

Overall the campaign (covers more than just alerts) is said to have led to a 26% reduction in piracy, which was compared to a control group who weren’t covered by the campaign. Similarly it noted that piracy rates among the “exposed” group dropped from 57% to 42% in three years (the overall data goes back to 2015 and, as above, covers more than just the email alerts side of this campaign).

Hopefully at some point the BPI will publish a much more detailed account of the scheme’s impact upon internet piracy (we will be asking and shall update accordingly). In the meantime the Government recently committed an additional £2m of public money to keep the “Get it Right” campaign going until 2021 (here), which is on top of the £3.5m that it initially began with.

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