After four years of negotiations, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have said they will send educational letters to people who illegally download copyrighted music, television or films.
BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media said they were in talks with the BPI, which represents the British music industry, and the BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media (MPA) over The Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (Vcap), but that an agreement had not yet been made.
Those who download illegal material can expect to receive up to four alerts. The cost of the system will be shared between the rights holders, who will contribute £750,000 or seventy five percent of the cost for each ISP, with a further £75,000 or seventy five of the costs a year to cover the running of the service.
The media industry originally intended for the voluntary copyright alert programme, to target alleged repeat copyright infringers with letters informing them of possible punitive measures. Access to a database of known infringers was also requested, which could have led to legal action against internet subscribers.
Under the voluntary copyright alert programme, the music and movie industry bodies will monitor file-sharing networks for copyright infringements, recording the IP addresses of downloaders.
The IP addresses, which identify individual broadband connections, will be given to UK ISPs who in turn will send out a warning letter about the alleged infringement to the registered subscriber of that broadband connection.
The voluntary copyright alert programme was proposed as an alternative to the 2010 Digital Economy Act, which envisioned repeat copyright infringers having their internet connections terminated.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is understood to be looking at the deal, but told the Guardian it did not rubber-stamp agreements.
Instead, the draft agreement, seen by the BBC, suggests that letters will be sent out each year and that they will have an educational tone.
The first warning letters will be sent out in 2015.