Britain Has Just Decriminalised Online Game, Music And Video Piracy

Computer Piracy

The times are definitely changing.

In a move that nobody really ever saw coming considering everyone in the industry kicks up such a stink about it all the time, the British government has decided to decriminalise all online game, music and video piracy.

Yes, that means you can pretty much download what you want from now on without the fear of ever getting caught and fined or arrested, or whatever else they threatened to do. I’m sure most of us were probably doing this already because it was pretty much impossible to get caught for that, but the fact that it’s now 100% decriminalised I’m sure will make you slightly more reassured when you’re doing that.

That’s even the reason that the government has cited for the decriminalisation: that they feel that it’s too impossible to enforce punishment plans because simply so many people are downloading stuff illegally that they can’t keep a track of them all. Under the new legislation, persistent file sharers will be sent letters explaining that their actions are illegal and asking them to desist, but after that no further action will be taken. So basically it’s like your mum telling you off and then still letting you do something, only way less severe.

The scheme is known as the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) and all the big ISPs – Sky, Virgin, BT etc – have signed up to it already. The idea behind it is to ‘raise awareness’ that online file sharing is wrong and to instil a culture of not sharing files into people and hope that they use their conscience to make the right choice. Like that’s going to work.


It replaces previous plans to cut people’s internet connections if they repeatedly offend, which sounds way more likely to work if you ask me. Despite this focus on not hurting the little man, the government is still working hard to stem funding and shut down file sharing sites where you watch your favourite TV shows and download your favourite music.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of music trade body the BPI, explained the ideas behind VCAP:

‘It’s about persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection. VCAP is not about denying access to the internet. It’s about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice.’

It kinda sounds like if they did enforce those new rules about shutting down the internet for the average guy who downloads music/films (everyone) it probably would have cost the big ISPs too much money so they’re just going to try and go after the big guys. I guess that’s a more worthwhile tactic, but it seems unlikely they’re ever going to be able to get them because when you get rid of one of those places, another two pop up almost immediately. Kinda like a hydra.

NB: To be honest I’m not even 100% sure if this is true as not many mainstream news sites seems to be reporting it, but that could be to keep it under wraps because it’s kind of a soft piece of legislation from the government that they might not want everyone hearing about, and it sounds too good to be true for everyone in the country who loves downloading stuff illegally (re: everyone). Hopefully we’ll find out in the near future.


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