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You’ve Been Warned… Well, Sort Of

You really want to watch the entire series of Game of Thrones (who can blame you), and you figure it’s no big deal just to download it – it’s so expensive to buy it and it’s just a few cheeky episodes, what harm can it do? But piracy has been a growing problem across the entertainment industry and now it looks like counter-measures are being implemented. That’s right – the punishment will be… a strongly worded email!

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Oh yes, be afraid. As of next year, pirates of the cyber seas will receive warnings for the illegal streaming of music, books and movies, but they won’t actually be punished for ignoring the messages. You’ll get an email ticking you off (up to four emails per household per year) but in all likelihood nothing will happen to you if you ignore them.

Up to 30% of us Brits now watch movies illegally online or buy counterfeit DVDs, which costs the entertainment industry about £500m a year. That’s fine for the DiCaprios and the Spielbergs, but for the rest of them it sucks, especially as it’s usually the independent side of the industry that pays the price, not the studios. Even more scarily, according to TERA up to a quarter of a million jobs will be at risk by next year if piracy carries on the same way; and of course there’s always the risk of accidentally downloading a virus too, putting your computer and therefore your personal details at risk.

The people who are trying to stop the impending doom of the entertainment industry are part of the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (Vcap), which is made up of ISPs and organisations representing content creators; so far UK recorded music industry trade association BPI, and the Motion Picture Association (MPA), BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin have signed up for the scheme and more are expected to follow.

As part of the programme the UK govt have pledged £3.5m to promote legal ways to hear your favourite tunez or watch your fave films. They want to educate users, and ‘persuade the persuadable’, like parents who don’t realise their children are downloading illegally, or people who somehow managed to miss the ‘piracy is a crime’ warning at the beginning of every movie ever; but realistically there are always going to be those who say that online entertainment is overpriced (as it doesn’t carry the same production costs), or who just don’t care.

Entertainment industry bods want offenders to have their internet connections cut off (which is better than a hand, which was the old school price for piracy!), although France has just stopped doing that because it was too hard to enforce. They also wanted the notification to list the penalties and to be able to have access to a database of violators. There have been a few people that have been made examples of, but these numbers are too small to put the fear in many people.

The reality is that if we want to continue to have the benefits of the entertainment industry as the internet grows, something needs to change. The scare tactics should be enough to stop some people but it’s unlikely to halt the rising tide of piracy.

What do you think will help prevent piracy? Tell us below!

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