After years of talks, internet service providers in the UK are about to sign a deal to help cut down on piracy by sending alert letters to suspected offenders. However, they will be educational in tone rather legal. And after four alerts, ISPs will take no further action.
Virgin Media, Sky, BT and TalkTalk have reportedly agreed to measures proposed by British music industry body the BPI and the Motion Picture Association. But while the bodies has previously wanted letters to warn of punitive measures and access to ISPs' databases of known pirates, the final draft of the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme - which was seen and reported on by the BBC - contains neither.
Instead, letters will seek to educate suspected offenders, "promoting an increase in awareness" of legal alternatives.
As part of the letter sending measure, the BBC reports that the bodies have agreed to pay £750,000 towards each service provider to cover set-up costs, or 75 per cent, whichever is smaller. A further £75,000 (or 75 per cent) will be paid each year to cover ongoing administration of the scheme.
Other ISPs will join in due course.
The deal still needs to be approved by the Information Commissioner's Office as it involves the collection of data about customers. If successful, letters will start to be sent out in 2015.
A limit of 2.5 million alerts between the four ISPs will be permitted and details on who has been sent an alert is allowed to be kept on file for up to a year.