File sharing is becoming almost impossible to police, let alone control. Authorities in the UK managed to take down Torrentz.eu for a small time, as well as block several sites with warrants served to internet service providers. However they have taken the strange decision to decriminalise file sharing and users of torrent sites.
Ofcom research indicates that file sharing by illegal means accounts for 22% of online content downloaded, which was more than 1.5 billion files in 2012. However, only a quarter of users would stop file sharing illegally under the threat of possible legal action. And 1 in 5 would do so after just receiving a letter from their internet provider.
Working from the research, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) will come into force in January 2015. It is a compromise after years are arguing between ISPs, politicians, and media industries that aims to boost awareness of the illegality of file sharing, as well as highlight other paid avenues for obtaining content legally.
File Sharing And Piracy
There was intended to be much harsher punishment in place. Under the proposed government Digital Economy Act (DEA), users accused of file sharing would have been monitored and picked up by any ISP. This would allow users to then have their Internet connection slowed or stopped completely by their ISP. Those proven to be downloading licensed content would have their information passed to police forces.
“VCAP is not about denying access to the internet. It’s about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice, persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection.” – Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of UK music trade body BPI.
Monitoring Your Internet
This monitoring of Internet activity and restricting service is not only detrimental to the business of Internet providers, but also may be against European law preventing the monitoring of and breaching the privacy of users. However, DEA believed the monitoring was “fair” and “proportionate” in the attempt to stop piracy.
It may not be all good news, and there will be more powers for VCAP to block sites they believe link to or have access to copyrighted material. This will including not just music and films, but computer and mobile applications. The movement is not ready to say that file sharing is OK, just that lawbreakers will not receive anywhere near the punishment they used to. What difference will it make? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, on Facebook, Google + or Twitter!