- 2 Apr 09, 00:00 GMT
If you've visited the cinema or watched a DVD over the last few years, you've probably also been on the receiving end of a pretty stark warning. "You wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't steal a handbag " says the trailer before the film, hammering home the message that piracy is a crime.
But now those trailers - and another anti-piracy series involving "Knock-off Nigel" will be seen no more.
They've been replaced by a series of short ads promoting British cinema and thanking the public for supporting movies by buying a ticket or a DVD. And, as far as I can see, there's not even a mention of piracy.
So did the get-tough tactics fail to do their job - and has the industry now changed tack?
"Your campaigning needs to evolve over time and have an appropriate message for today,"Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures International told me. He was explaining the new strategy to me on behalf of the Industry Trust, the body producing these trailers and fighting to promote the copyright cause for the UK film and TV business.
Mr Cunningham insisted that I was wrong to suggest the previous robust campaign against piracy had failed. '"If you went back to 2004, the majority of people didn't realise it was a crime, by the end of that campaign the majority of people realised it was. Research shows us that most people now find it unfashionable - there's been a gradual change in attitudes."
There's no evidence yet though that the tide has turned when it comes to the sheer scale of piracy - though the film industry has commissioned some research which it says could provide at least a hint that progess is being made.
But it seems the real news is that the nature of the anti-piracy battle has changed in two ways. Just like the music industry, the movie business has decided it's not worth alienating its own consumers and the focus has moved from physical piracy to the online variety.
In 2004 most people didn't have a fast enough broadband connection to make it worth the bother of downloading a movie via file-sharing software - now it's becoming a relatively simple "hobby".
And what really struck me about my conversation with Eddie Cunningham was his strong words about the internet service providers and his conviction that the government would force them to co-operate in the battle against piracy. "if you or I owned a house in which prostitution was taking place," he said, "or where drug dealing was happening, we'd be responsibile."
In other words, the ISPs are looking on as the crime of film piracy takes place down their broadband lines, and doing nothing about it.
In France the government is trying to bring in a "three-strikes" law, which would mean persistent film and music downloaders could have their broadband connections cut off.
Mr Cunningham thinks the same thing could be imminent here, if the ISPs don't agree to self-regulation: "It's absolutely critical for the creative industries which are terribly important for the UK, that the government steps in and does something. It's theft and it's only happening because we're making it a bit too easy at the moment."
So behind the softly-softly approach to piracy, there's still a threat. It's just aimed at what the film industry seems to regard as the "Knock-off Nigels" among the internet service providers, rather than at film fans.
UPDATE, 09:40: In a surprise sequel, the Industry Trust has got back to me this morning to say that Knock-off Nigel hasn't been consigned to history after all.
While the "piracy is theft" will be withdrawn, Nigel will llive on, alongside the new "thank you" adverts. So the strategy is even more complex than I thought. Filmgoers will be complimented and mocked at the same time.
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