British government launch stern letter-writing campaign to tackle games piracy

Stop looking at us like that. A gorgeous set of crimson sails need buying.

The UK government will no longer be fighting piracy with legal action alone. From next year, the worst torrenters will also be tackled with a warning letter scheme.

Beginning in 2015, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme will see internet service providers send file-sharers a maximum of four letters a year, to inform them of copyright law and suggest alternate, legitimate sources for their entertainment.

If the letters are ignored, file-sharers will suffer no further consequences from ISPs. But they will be subject to existing anti-piracy measures, which include cutting off internet connections and drawing up a naughty list of persistent pirates.

The scheme will be supported by a £3.5 million government-funded “multi-media education awareness campaign”, and is backed by BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of music industry body BPI, said the new system was designed for “persuading the persuadable”, including parents unaware of their children’s habits.

“VCAP is not about denying access to the internet,” he said. “It’s about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice.”

While many of us balk at the suggestion that a pirated copy equates to a lost sale, the effects of illegal downloading on the games industry are undeniable.

Football Manager developers Sport Interactive noted a marked decline in Football Manager 2013 sales once it was cracked. In November last year,10.1m people had downloaded the game illegally.

So: will it work, this scheme?

Thanks, VG247.