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Ofcom introduces three strike policy

Internet pirates face £20 appeal fee

Web users suspected of accessing or sharing copywrited material online will be subjected to a £20 fine if they wish to appeal any allegations.

The new piracy policy being introduced by UK regulator Ofcom – known as the DEA Initial Obligations Code – gives users three strikes regarding piracy. The plan requires internet service providers to send letters to customers whose internet connections have been used to share or download pirated content.

Once a user receives three letters or more within the period of one year, their information is passed on to rights holders who are then free to take offenders to court for copyright infringement, at which point they will have 20 working days to appeal the accusation with a £20 cost to do so.

Ofcom’s plan for the system is to advise web users of where they are able to access content legally and offer guidance as to securing an internet connection in order to prevent unknown users from accessing illegal material via their connection. It also wants to warm people of the real dangers of copyright infringement and the legal dangers they face.

Opinions surrounding the plans are mixed as Jim Killock of the Open Rights group told Techradar when citing the policy: "Some people will almost certainly end up in court having done nothing wrong." Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, rights holders have expressed their support for the plans with Geoff Taylor, CEO of the British Phonographic Industry saying: "It’s time to get down to business and start implementing the law to educate consumers about illegal downloading, so that artists and creators are fairly rewarded for their hard work."

Drafts of the code are available for review until July 26th, before it is passed to Parliament at the end of 2012 and pending any delays or objections, web users could be receiving letters by 2014.

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