A campaign is underway in Britain to help educate people on the issues surrounding piracy as well as how it affects the software industry as a whole (spoiler: whatever they’ve been doing for the last two decades hasn’t been working). To help curb piracy, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) was created and it’s goal is to help people realise that what they’re doing is harmful to the profits of companies who make and publish games and making the situation worse with ever-intrusive DRM ruining the experience for everyone else trying to get into gaming legitimately.
And their main promise is that people who are identified as pirates won’t be prosecuted. There has to be a catch, right?
The Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme is comprised of the British government, British Telecoms (BT), Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, the Motion Picture Association (MPA), and the British Record Music Industry (BRMI). Copyright infringement has been a hot topic for the government over the years and it appears that they’d rather not take on the extra load in the legal system by financially ruining anyone who pirates a game off the internet.
Instead of punishing you they’ll send you letters trying to educate you and point you in the direction of legal, compelling alternatives. You can be sent a maximum of four letters a year to warn you of your actions. In a blog post about the campaign, Virgin Media’s Joe Lathan outlined their reasoning for the change in tactics to the piracy issue.
“As part of this commitment, we will alert our customers if unlawful file-sharing appears to have taken place on their broadband connection,” writes Lathan. “Any alert will clearly recognise the account holder may not have engaged in copyright infringement themselves and we will be informative in tone, offering advice on where to find legitimate sources of entertainment content.”
“At no point will we share any customer information as part of this campaign. We believe people will ultimately pay if they can get what they want, how they want, at a price that’s fair to them,” he adds.
It looks like common sense is prevailing in the UK and people are finally getting the idea that piracy or copyright infringement shouldn’t be considered in the same vein as theft. Although it can be just as damaging to game developers and publishers as physical theft, the mechanics surrounding it and the ease of which people can just torrent a game and crack it makes it a much more difficult issue to tackle.