U.K. to launch its own version of the Copyright Alert System

The U.S. continues to export its most toothless initiatives.


Kevin Collier

Internet Culture

Published Jul 22, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 10:15 pm CDT

The U.K., perhaps copping up to the fact that its music, film, and television industries are second to the U.S.’s, will soon adopt its widest anti-piracy initiative, too.

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It’s part of a new program called Creative Content U.K., a partnership between the U.K.’s four biggest Internet providers and lobbying groups for the music and movie industries.

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CCUK is very much in the vein of the U.S.’s Copyright Alert System, implemented in February 2013. Like the CCUK, the CAS bills itself as an “educational” program, only tracks users who upload files using peer-to-peer programs like BitTorrent, and sends notices to alleged pirates through their Internet provider. And like the CAS, which though extrajudicial was brokered in part by a White House representative, the CCUK has government support, as both the U.K. Culture Secretary and Shadow Culture Secretary gave the CCUK glowing quotes for its press release.

The program’s first goal, scheduled for early 2015, is to launch a huge media campaign to discourage piracy. The government has pledged £3.5 million to help with that part, a fact that’s drawn the ire of Internet organizations.

“It’s amazing that £3.5 million of taxpayers’ money is to be used on what amounts to an advert for big music and film companies, at the same time the government has cut arts companies doing fantastic work in the community,” Jack Allnutt, a spokesperson for the Pirate Party U.K., told the Daily Dot.

The actual alerts still don’t yet have a firm launch date, reminiscent of the fact that the CAS was delayed repeatedly, at one point even blaming Hurricane Sandy, before it finally launched. When it does, though, it appears to be fairly light on the punishment of suspected pirates. They’re receive up to four notices from their provider, but the program doesn’t mention further punishment after that.

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The CCUK itself won’t fine customers, Peter Jones, a public relations worker for the program, told the Daily Dot. “It’s not going to be a sanctions program,” he said.

However, as is yet again the case with the CAS, just because alleged pirates won’t be prosecuted through that program doesn’t mean that music and movie studios can’t still sue users on their own.

“There’s nothing in this program that changes the fact that piracy in this country is illegal,” Jones said.

Illustration by Jason Reed

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*First Published: Jul 22, 2014, 10:52 am CDT