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Have you received a ‘copyright awareness’ email from your ISP?

uploading and sharing files

Guest John Carr from the Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety explains how the new educational emails on copyright awareness from ISPs can help protect your family

Since January, UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been sending out educational emails to subscribers if their broadband internet connection has been used to upload and share files that contain copyright infringing content.

The emails outline the details of the activity and provide links to help find legal sources for the same or similar content in future.

This is the latest component in the government-backed ‘Get it Right from a Genuine Site’ campaign, which aims to make it easy to find legal content and so help reduce online copyright infringement.

ISPs do not carry out any monitoring of their subscribers in this regard.

Instead, the activity has been detected, confirmed and notified to them by participating copyright owners.

In addition, the campaign has support from trade unions, which represent the creative industries, other rights owners, retailers, exhibitors, distributors, consumer groups and the UK government

The ISPs have simply signed up to the initiative voluntarily and have agreed to forward the emails.

There is no ’blacklisting‘ of subscribers and at no time will an ISP share account or other personal information with anyone else, including the copyright owners.

What you can do

A number of people receiving one of these emails might wonder if someone has hijacked their home internet connection.

Alternatively, maybe one of their children is responsible, not realising that by getting music, films or TV programmes from a file-sharing site or similar that they’re infringing copyright.

In this respect, the email from the Get it Right Campaign is important because it acts as an alert.

I’ve done a lot of research into these sites and with no age checks at the door, they’re not the sort of environments you’d want your son or daughter to be around.

On top of this, there are the scammers and malware artists who just want you to click on a link or download something nasty, which then gets onto your computer or other device and maybe from there into the entire network in your home.

So, if you do get an education email from your ISP, first double-check that your wi-fi network is secured by a password. You should also consider asking your son or daughter and other users of your wi-fi, such as a lodger or flatmate, what they’ve been downloading.

Explain that the email was the trigger for your enquiry. You may also want to go through your son or daughter’s devices with them one by one and ask them to explain the function or purpose of every app or add on.

This is a guest contribution by John Carr from the Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety. All views expressed here are his own, not necessarily those shared by Which?

Would receiving an educational email from your ISP change your behaviour around how you and your family use the internet?


The age verification systems are impossible to enforce, but the copyright issue is highly contentious. It still rankles that – technically at least – it’s still illegal to rip DVDs and Blu Rays I own.

But I’m curious about this header: are we focussing on seriously unpleasant content, which we would want to ensure our children didn’t see? If so, we’re back to parenting. Parents have to ensure they understand user accounts, passwords, the dangers of WiFi and the often very sharp children who know their way around security far better than Mum or Dad. ‘Tis a Brave Nw World indeed.

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Just a quick update on this, Duncan: the rules proposing preventing US internet providers from selling your web browsing data without opt-in permission hadn’t actually come into force, so what the recent resolution does is simply preserve the status quo. In other words it allows ISPs to continue flogging your personal and private data to businesses – exactly as happens now with FB, SC, W’sApp and most of the other social media sites. In that sense the average US citizen won’t notice any changes.

With regard to the UK, government policy here is moving towards absolutely no right to privacy, anyway. In that sense they’re ahead of our US counterparts. But we need a constitution.

Tony says:
27 March 2017

For all the fine words, copyright is used to justify one aspect of the excess of greed which is taking over our society (witness lawyers advertising for clients who may have a claim from the past under nopay nofee rules). Copyright is fine – but let’s have it for 10 years at the most. The noncreative among us have to keep on working to get an income – do creative teachers get 0.01% of the salaries of all the children they taught, to be paid for 70 years after their death? Ridiculous! They are paid a proper salary to be creative and to give it away for the benefit of others, why not the creative and performing arts?

Let us be clear – if I post information on the internet then it is there for all to see – and all will see it, and greed will take over and people will use it. This is the real world out there. Can I claim copyright over it effectively – no! Neither can anyone else. If you do not want it spread around the world, then do not put it on the internet. Please do not cry copyright or data protection – it just demonstrates the attitude to cake keeping and eating.

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