As British internet service providers prepare to finally start sending out warning letters to customers that the entertainment industries reckon are accessing content from unlicensed sources, a frequently asked questions site has been put live by the ‘Get It Right From A Genuine Site’ campaign, which – remarkably – still hasn’t been put out of its misery.
As previously reported, the warning letters – or ‘educational emails’ as they are being called – ultimately stem from the 2010 Digital Economy Act, which obliged net firms to alert customers suspected of infringing copyright via their internet connections. Despite that obligation being enshrined in the law in 2010, it wasn’t until 2014 that the copyright industries and the ISPs agreed a way forward via a government initiative called Creative Content UK.
That agreement said that the ISPs would finally start sending out letters to suspected infringers which would be educational rather than threatening. But it was also agreed that that wouldn’t begin until a bunch of cash had been thrown at an ad agency and a PR firm to first stage possibly the most pointless anti-piracy publicity campaign to date. And so all that ‘Get It Right From A Genuine Site’ flim flam began.
Now the ISPs are ready to get going with the nitty gritty of sending out some educational emails. The launch of the FAQ microsite under the ‘Get It Right’ banner – which was spotted by Torrentfreak – suggests that those emails will point recipients to this central resource to answer questions like: “What are P2P networks?”, “How do I get rid of P2P file sharing software?” and “How can I tell is something is copyrighted?”.
The answer to that last question, by the way, is that “using a genuine source or service is the quickest and easiest way to legally access the content you love”. Which doesn’t really answer the question, does it? Though it does provide an excuse to link back to the ‘Get It Right’ campaign’s list of genuine digital music services, which includes all my favourites like the now closed Sainsburys download store, the well shutdown MixRadio and the no-longer-in-business Muzu. Good times.
The FAQs also provide some more information about the educational email campaign itself. For example, although the ‘graduated response’ system set out in the Digital Economy Act originated in the ‘three strikes’ anti-piracy approach that was popular for a time – a system that says people who ignore the warnings could lose their internet connection – the FAQs confirm that that is not part of this programme.
In answer to the query “will this programme shut down my internet connection”, the site confirms: “No. This Get it Right Educational Email Programme is intended to provide you with information and will not automatically trigger further action. However copyright infringement is against the law and the rules of your account do not permit it. To ensure you are not at risk of potential penalties in the future, please take action now to stop any illegal uploading and sharing of files occurring on your internet account”.
Though, while there are no formal sanctions against the naughty infringers, they could find themselves receiving repeat emails about their activity if they continue to access content from dodgy sources. However, if no notices are sent over a twelve month period, any record of past educational emails being sent will be removed from the records associated with the customer’s account.
For the question “what happens if I don’t think the information is correct?” – ie what if you’re pretty certain no file-sharing has occurred on your net connection – the FAQs site fudges the answer slightly by simply suggesting someone else might be doing the infringing, and therefore you should lock down your wi-fi connection. Which is to say, there is no formal route of appeal, though given that there are no sanctions as part of this programme, presumably the ISPs, rights owners and government reckon no such procedure is required.
The logos revolving on the FAQs site suggests that Virgin Media, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Plusnet are all participating in the educational emails programme, with the first emails expected to be sent out any day now.