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Government suggests ads in ISP piracy letters

The government has suggested to Internet service providers that they place adverts in the warning letters to be sent to people supected of copyright infringement. Don't miss a trick, do they?

If you're downloading copyrighted material, you're a pirate, according to the government -- but your money's as good as anyone else's. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published sample versions of the warning letters that will be sent to you if you're caught infringing copyright, and they contain space for adverts.

paidContent:UK spotted the ads in dummy letters published "for illustrative purposes". They contain sample text that Internet service providers could put in the letters sent to users that they've been told have done some dodgy downloading, as set out in the Digital Economy Act.

Each letter explains what copyright is and also that there are legal ways to access copyrighted material, naming the BBC's iPlayer. This is where the letter sticks in an ad for such services: "You may be interested in the following links [sponsored links]".

This could involve ads for services such as Spotify, retailers such as Amazon, or even ads for the record and film companies themselves. It's all hypothetical at this stage, but we wouldn't put it past ISP or recod companies to slap an ad in there.

The three letters are written in increasingly stern language, with the first letter suggesting that perhaps someone in your house -- such as your pesky kids -- may have committed the copyright crime, or perhaps someone piggybacking your Internet connection. In the letters, the copyright holder provides a timestamp of the infringement, with a user's IP address and the protocol used to commit the heinous act.

The final letter informs you that you are now on a "serious infringement" blacklist. Each copyright holder can then apply to court to see the list of users who have stolen their content, and if successful get your name and address for further legal action.

These are only sample letters, so it'll be up to ISPs how they actually word the warnings. The final wording will depend on Ofcom's code, which will be debated and decided over the next year.