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If you're accused of piracy, Ofcom will charge £20 to appeal

Ofcom has revealed plans to enforce copyright infringement law -- including a £20 charge to appeal if you're accused.

Ofcom has revealed plans to enforce copyright infringement law -- including a £20 charge to appeal if you're accused. While Ofcom insists the investigation process is "rigorous and transparent", critics of the legislation have branded the appeals process "a joke".

Ofcom's draft code compels Internet service providers to contact customers suspected of dodgy downloading, and highlight legal ways to get movies, music, software, ebooks and other copyrighted content. Should you be contacted and you feel you've done nothing wrong, you can appeal against allegations of copyright infringement. Which costs £20.

The process is outlined in Ofcom's draft code for enforcing the Digital Economy Act. You know the Digital Economy Act, the half-formed legislation that was rushed through Parliament as the last government stumbled out of the door. The one that nobody turned up to vote on? Yeah, that one.

Broadband providers are expected to write to customers suspected of infringing copyright by uploading or downloading movies, music or other works. Should a customer be accused three times or more in a year, copyright holders are informed and can then request a court order to get a user's full details. They can then throw the book at them.

Should you be falsely accused of copyright infringement, you have 20 days to appeal -- and of course scrape together twenty quid. Forget innocent until proven guilty, this is guilty until you cough up some dosh.

"Ofcom are being asked to put lipstick on a pig with this code," said digital crusaders the Open Rights Group. "The appeals are a joke. The Government has decided that 'I didn't do it' is not a defence.

"Some people will almost certainly end up in court having done nothing wrong."

What do you think of Ofcom's proposals? How do you think the problem of copyright infringement can be solved? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.