Britain Decriminalizes Online Piracy
While American companies are still attempting to charge and sue digital pirates into oblivion, Britain is moving to a more progressive system that’s built on the basis of the old adage that you can attract more flies with honey and vinegar. Starting in 2015, Britain is introducing the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) that will decriminalize copyright policy.
The new legislation isn’t something that you’d expect to be approved by corporate interests but the approval of VCAP is a result of a year of work by the British government, internet service providers and representatives of the movie and music industries. The plan came about after the current program of investigation and punishment were deemed to be “unworkable.”
Starting in 2015, the new scheme sees persistent pirates and file-sharers sent four warning letter explaining that what they’re doing is illegal. After those letters are sent, no further legal action is taken by the criminal justice system. These letters will also include information about how to legally obtain the media being downloaded from the internet.
However, as is often said in the marijuana legality discussion, decriminalization does not equal legalization. As such, while the criminal justice system doesn’t seem likely to chase after small fish themselves, decriminalization is likely to allow corporations to pursue legal action against the worst offenders.
I think that we can all appreciate that their isn’t one catch-all solution to stopping or slowing piracy. Granted, the prevalence of piracy is often less of a case of people don’t want to pay than a pricing or service failure on the part of the manufacturer/publisher. Steam and GOG seem to have a good thing going with their offerings and regular sales. By decriminalizing piracy, hopefully, corporations take not having the ability to sick their lawyers on a poor blue-collar family because they downloaded a movie as an opportunity to find new revenue streams and pricing models to draw in customers who would have otherwise pirated.