UK piracy doge
Don\'t want to receive four letters a year from your ISP warning you for downloading illegal content, you\'d better stop now

Do you enjoy illegally downloading movies, songs and games? Do you think that all information should be free, and think that paying your internet bill should be enough?

Well too bad. It's not legal, and from 2015, your internet service provider (ISP) will send you four letters a year to tell you to stop downloading, paid for by a £3.5 million ($6m) taxpayer-funded awareness campaign.

That's it. No, really, that's it.

You won't receive letters demanding that you pay restitution to copyright holders like the BPI (British music trade body) or the MPA (Motion Picture Association), your ISP isn't going to come knocking on your door and your internet won't be cut off.

Following years of heated discussion between politicians, the movie and music industries, and ISPs, the British government has come to the conclusion that trying to enforce any punishments for online piracy would be unworkable, so it's not going to bother.

The new Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) scheme aims to "boost consumer awareness of the wide array of legitimate online content services", according to Creative Content UK, a new association set up by all the parties involved.

ISPs such as BT, Sky, Virgin and Talk Talk have agreed to send out the nagging letters to subscribers if their accounts are found to have accessed pirated content, but there is no exact date for when the letter alert system will kick in.

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said that 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."

BT Consumer CEO John Petter said: "BT is very pleased to be able to support this important announcement today. The UK has a world-leading creative sector which plays a vital role in promoting the nation's economic prosperity.

"That's why we've worked very hard with rights-holders and other leading ISPs to develop a voluntary programme based on consumer education and awareness which promotes the use of legal online content."