Internet piracy appeal fee challenged by Consumer Focus

Internet user Users face punishment if they receive three copyright infringement letters within a year

Related Stories

Suspected internet pirates will have 20 working days to appeal against allegations of copyright infringement and must pay £20 to do so, according to revised plans to enforce the UK's Digital Economy Act.

The details are contained in secondary legislation presented to Parliament and a draft code published by Ofcom.

The telecoms regulator said it expected the scheme to begin in 2014.

Campaigners oppose the fee saying users should be innocent until proven guilty.

The Creative Industries Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: "We must ensure our creative industries can protect their investment.

"They have the right to charge people to access their content if they wish, whether in the physical world or on the internet."

Three letters

Under the plans users suspected of accessing or uploading illegally copied files will be sent letters from their internet service provider (ISP), delivered at least one month apart, informing them they are suspected of copyright infringement.

The messages will also contain information about where to find licensed material online.

Copyright owners can request details about all the accusations made against any account-holder who receives three or more letters within a 12-month period, but the user's name will not be revealed at this stage.

Expect plenty more arguments before we finally discover whether the Digital Economy Act really has the potential to be as good for the creative industries or as bad for the consumer as the different lobbies claim.

Meanwhile you could argue that the whole enterprise already looks obsolete.

The copyright holders have found that existing laws enable them to take action against piracy sites, with court rulings forcing ISPs to block access to Newzbin and the Pirate Bay.

Rights holders wishing to chase a suspected pirate must seek a court order requiring the ISP to hand over the details.

Ofcom said this additional step was designed to encourage efforts to be focused "on the most persistent alleged infringers".

Appeal fees

Accused users who wish to appeal against the claims outlined in any letter must pay £20 to do so, but the revised code says only grounds specified in the act will be considered.

Campaign group Consumer Focus chief executive Mike O'Connor said: "Copyright infringement is not to be condoned, but people who are innocent should not have to pay a fee to challenge accusations.

"Twenty pounds may sound like a small sum, but it could deter those living on low-incomes from challenging unfair allegations."

He added the best way to reduce unnecessary appeals was for Ofcom to require a high standard of evidence from copyright holders to avoid notifications being sent out on the basis of "flimsy evidence".

Ofcom noted its revised code stated rights holders would only be able to gather evidence using measures approved by the regulator.


ISPs - who must also contribute to the cost of running the scheme - will ultimately be required to take steps against repeat offenders such as limiting their broadband speed or suspending their accounts.

However, Ofcom noted this would require further legislation that could only be considered after the letter scheme had been in force for a year.

Even so, members of the Creative Coalition Campaign, welcomed the latest step towards implementing the copyright crackdown.

"We urge ISPs to begin building their systems now and to work constructively with rights holders, Ofcom and government to get notice-sending up and running as soon as possible," said John Smith, general secretary of the Musicians' Union.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • Comment number 682.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 681.

    firstly we see ever greater sales for software on the pc certainly you sound like the music industry claiming poverty while boasting of record sales
    Secondly punishment for theft should carry punishment but not just because someone says so without proof or a day in court
    you heard of innocent untill proven guilty. £20.00 pounds says guilty untill proven innocent!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 680.

    Seems we have a chav/ned phantom vote downer for anything that doesn't contain the words Carlsberg, Burberry or Benefits. Or "In the kaaah smokin' ma reefahhh" -- infamous Kersal Massive (check youtube for it lol)

  • rate this

    Comment number 679.

    >>Ok 1 person doesn't cause damage, but hundreds of thousands of that 1 person will, and they punishment for theft should be harsh.

    If 1 person STOLE your original master & uploaded it then yes, harsh punishment, but those downloading it should only pay for the value of the download. If you want customers, do NOT punish them with DRM & always-on net, give them something pirates will never have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 678.

    Fair enough but they still need to match outgoing data to known patterns before anything is flagged up. such things as well known ports and known CAC torrent servers ip's
    isp's dont have the time or computaional power to inspect every data packet, just like the cia use pattern matching for spying on our coms
    proxies dont just hide you they also hide where you go from your isp

  • rate this

    Comment number 677.

    Prima facie, copyright infringement is wrong but to have to pay £20 to defend yourself against anyone who accuses you is straight from La La Land.

  • rate this

    Comment number 676.


    PC market will not be viable on the current trend, I am working with Bioware on Generals 2 and I can tell from inhouse talking they are considering not using the PC as a platform to release software to. This is evident by other developers/publishers.

    Ok 1 person doesn't cause damage, but hundreds of thousands of that 1 person will, and they punishment for theft should be harsh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 675.

    Why has the BOE or the Fed not been prosecuted for making copies of bank notes in circulation (QE) after all they have not paid the taxpayer who own the currency for the privilege of pirating the currency!

  • rate this

    Comment number 674.

    The UK has one of the strictest copyright laws in the world unlike other countries which have a system called fair use + many conspirators are claiming that the new stricter copyright laws are primarily designed to censer whistleblowers ie Wikileaks Don’t let the UK government control the net it should allways be a freedom of speach

  • rate this

    Comment number 673.

    Dr Bob Matthews, The ratings system on blogs is a very blunt instrument and easily manipulated.

    A comment that apparently has a zero score could be due to either no votes at all, or a lot of votes with equal numbers of positive and negative ratings.
    Also, "editors picks" usually get a lot of votes. So too may the comments that appear on screen first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 672.

    I wonder how long it will be before the Creative Industries realise that lack of money is the whole reason people pirate stuff in the first place. People these days want a massive music library of every album of artists they like. This would cost thousands on Digital Download/CD per person. Most pirates are not even adults as well. A new system is needed, lowering prices would be a good start.

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    The death throws of a vicious nasty beast are pathetic to behold. The concept of IP is over. Pay when you work fine, never a penny for copies while you laze. Books will go the same way.

    Like the EU, and immigration, IP is an issue the political class are on another planet from the rest of us. End private monopolies, end copyright. It is morally wrong Mr Cameron!

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.

    cont from 666
    packet inspection to see if you what you are downloading and like i said earlier they cant even just check for the same old port addresses because its very easy to change those to other than well known ports.
    so for the savey the only way companies could track you would be by laying trap programs that ring back home but ofcourse you use a ip blocker such as peerblock.

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.


    I was responding to a comment made by someone else asking how to do they know which files you download.

    You forget though proxies or VPNs although hide yourself from the net, still goes through your UBR. For example a US Proxy/VPN doesn't mean you directly connect to it, you have to go through hops to get there, no ifs or buts. Just makes requests all that longer to complete.

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    663. Lee Perry
    Rare Groove selections
    Dub Specialist
    Reggae is bigger and wider than Pop music but nobody ever told you that
    Don't forget those Gracie Fields rare beats.

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    >>Unfortunately we live in a world where mostly teenagers expect everything free

    So what ? Let the punishment fit the crime, don't let MEDIA companies dictate our laws, they are NOT the law, the have no connections with law. If you rob a bank or a shop, they cannot change laws to favour themselves, we have legal procedures to follow. Thousands of ££ in fines & court costs is NOT the answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    Oh come on DAB surely you have heard of such things as proxies and the fact you can change ports in most torrent programs. The fact you use a proxy ensures companies do not get your real ip from within such such programs and also ensure isp's cannot just track which ip's you are connecting too to match outgoing addresses to known torrent cac servers. encoding also stops deep packet...

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    Sceptic Be far more effective if Cameron removed himself and his useless government at the first opportunity!

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    @PCServices... pt2

    As for the public WIFI if someone is caught using your connection to donwload illegal content, then it is your responsibility as well as his. It is your choice to leave it open or not, and if you do leave open then you are in a legal soup battle. It is on you as the owner of the hub/router to protect it or have settings that bar specific traffic, if not then your own fault.

  • Comment number 663.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


Page 1 of 35


More Technology stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.