Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Will shot across bow really hit the internet pirates?

Fantasy world: Is it too much to hope for that all Game of Thrones fans will pay up?

With shows like Game of Thrones now prime targets for illegal downloads, the Government is hitting back. But will the new measures work, asks Katie Wright.

The Game Of Thrones season four finale in June was a record-breaker. Not, as you might imagine, for featuring the most blood-curdling murders per minute, but because it became the most illegally downloaded TV show ever, with 1.5 million file-sharers accessing a pirated copy in the 12 hours after it aired.

And with an Ofcom report showing that more than one billion music tracks were downloaded from illegal sources in the year to May 2013, new Government anti-piracy measures can't come soon enough.

That's why the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) has launched Creative Content UK (CCUK), a two-stage partnership due to begin by Spring next year.

Kicking off with a major multi-media education awareness campaign to highlight the value of the creative industries (showbiz adds £71bn a year to the UK economy), the next phase will be a warning system for consumers. Internet account holders with Sky, BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media will receive an alert from their ISP (Internet Service Provider) if it's believed unlawful file-sharing has taken place through their connection, plus advice on how to find above-board sources of online entertainment.

It was reported last week that dodgy downloaders will only receive four warnings, but the BPI says that's not the case.

They hope very few people will get to the fourth alert, as fans learn to get their films from legitimate sites. But if subscribers receive four alerts and continue to infringe, they will continue to hear from their ISP.

Will the web warning system work? In some cases, certainly.

Parents who get a letter because their kid has been downloading Justin Bieber records on the sly will likely hit the roof and impose their own anti-piracy scare tactics at home.

Techies, on the other hand, aren't as concerned. The announcement sparked a mass of erroneous media reports saying "the UK has just decriminalised file-sharing", suggesting confidence in the new measures isn't high.

And with new pirate sites cropping up all the time, it will be hard for CCUK to keep up.

But advice on authorised entertainment sites could also help people to discover that downloading is more affordable than they think.

Meanwhile, the war against online pirates remains as complicated as a Game Of Thrones plot line, and it's going to take plenty more battles like this one before they're defeated once and for all.

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