Voluntary copyright alert programme

A voluntary copyright alert programme (VCAP) has been proposed in the UK which would see ISPs enforcing copyright by arrangement with rights holders directly, as an alternative to fully implementing Digital Economy Act 2010.

Following the problems in implementation of the Digital Economy Act 2010, the BPI called for ISPs to implement a voluntary scheme in September 2013[1].

This voluntary arrangement would be similar to the six strikes voluntary graduated response scheme implemented in the US since February 2013 known as the Copyright Alert System.

The VCAP scheme would involve agents of copyright owners sending evidence of copyright infringement to ISPs. The ISPs would then send up to four letters of warning to their subscribers. There is currently no plan for punitive measures, but presumably the warning letters would be of assistance to copyright owners in the event of legal action. [2]

Lord Bates noted the government's support for VCAP in a Lords debate in January 2014[3], as did DCMS minister Ed Vaizey MP in February[4] and Tom Brake MP in March[5], with the suggestion that it may be implemented by the end of 2014.

In May 2014 the BBC reported[6] that arrangements had been made by the BPI and Motion Picture Association with four ISPs (BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media) to send letters to accused infringers, starting in 2015, but have not agreed to punitive measures.

Creative Content UK was launched in July 2014, as an awareness campaign which incorporates the VCAP component. It covers works by major music companies and movie studios. It's possible that other copyright owners may join this scheme or launch alternative VCAP systems.



  1. Record labels ask broadband providers to collect data on illegal downloads, Guardian, 2013-09-01
  2. Re:Warnings are discoverable ..., 2014-07-22
  3. Hansard, 2014-01-16 "The Government are fully behind industry efforts to introduce a voluntary copyright alert programme which should be quicker, more flexible and cheaper than the Digital Economy Act"
  4. Hansard, 2014-02-13 "...we welcome the industry initiative, not only because we hope it may be up and running before the end of the year, but because it requires a partnership between both sides of the debate"
  5. Hansard, 2014-03-11 "We want the voluntary copyright alert programme to be introduced and to be successful. As I stated earlier, we believe that it will be quicker, more flexible and cheaper than anything introduced by the DEA."
  6. Deal to combat piracy in UK with 'alerts' is imminent, BBC, 2014-05-09