UK Govt: suspected pirates will have to pay to prove themselves innocent

"We must ensure our creative industries can protect their investment."

Guilty until you pay to prove yourself innocent - suspected eye-patch wearing internet pirates will soon face a 20 fee if they want to appeal against copyright infringement allegations.

Those alleged rum drinkers will have 20 days to appeal.

It's all part of revised plans to uphold and enforce the Digital Economy Act in the UK, the BBC reported. The new scheme is expected to begin in 2014.

If you're suspected of uploading or accessing illegally copied files - movies, games, music, etc. - your internet service provider will write you a letter. A serious letter with no jokes in.

You'll be told you're suspected of copyright infringement. And if you want to dispute it, you'll need to cough up 20.

Why dispute? If you receive three letters within a year, copyright owners can request details of accusations made against you - the account holder. But not your name - those kind of details will only be given after a court order is obtained. It's deliberately obtuse, so as to ensure only the "the most persistent alleged infringers" are hunted down.

Sounds like a lot of extra work for the ISPs.

Not only that, but ISPs also have to contribute to the cost of running the scheme. And they're expected to punish repeat offenders by throttling broadband speeds or by suspending accounts.

Will this affect broadband pricing?

The notion of making "suspected" - and still innocent - people pay to defend themselves has, understandably, gone down like a lead balloon with campaign group Consumer Focus.

"Copyright infringement is not to be condoned," CEO Mike O'Connor said, "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."

Tory bloke Ed Vaizey, Creative Industries Minister, 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."

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