Legal Video Game Downloads? UK Decriminalizes Online Piracy

By Luca Saitta , Updated Jul 22, 2014 09:28 AM EDT

Illegally downloading video games, music or movies will not be subject to criminal prosecution in the UK anymore, starting in 2015.

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A whole load of poor college students from Aberdeen to Hull (just kidding, there are no schools in Hull) just breathed a sigh of relief. The #1 acquisition method for many a penniless kid or well-off scumbag of video games, music and movies has just been decriminalized in the UK, with the legislation effective next year, according to VG247.

So what will the UK government do to persistent illegal file sharers? You are going to get a stern letter of warning to cut it out. Then another. Then another. Then another. And then... well, nothing. This new scheme is called the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme or VCAP. It's basically intended to appeal to people's consciences.

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Geoff Taylor, chief executive of music trade body the BPI, said VCAP was about "persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection. [...] VCAP is not about denying access to the internet. It's about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice."

Often it really is about availability or access. How many underfunded kids like to play video games, listen to music, watch movies, but once they grow up and get jobs start paying for them? People who can easily afford all these things and have access to them legally but still pirate? Yeah, those are the people for whom "appealing to conscientious behavior" doesn't really work.

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