The British government has decriminalised online video game, music and movie piracy, scrapping fuller punishment plans after branding them unworkable.
Starting in 2015, persistent file-sharers will be sent four warning letters explaining their actions are illegal, but if the notes are ignored no further action will be taken.
The scheme, named the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), is the result of years of talks between ISPs, British politicians and the movie and music industries.
The UK’s biggest providers – BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky – have all signed up to VCAP, and smaller ISPs are expected to follow suit.
VCAP replaces planned anti-piracy measures that included cutting users’ internet connections and creating a database of file-sharers.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of music trade body the BPI, said VCAP was about “persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection.”
He added: “VCAP is not about denying access to the internet. It’s about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice.”
Officials will still work to close and stem funding to file-sharing sites, but the news appears to mean that the British authorities have abandoned legal enforcement of online media piracy.
Figures recently published by Ofcom said that nearly a quarter of all UK downlaods were of pirated content.