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Ofcom Outlines UK's Three Strikes Piracy Policy

UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom has published a new draft code for implementing the Digital Economy Act (DEA). In the code published today, Ofcom explained how ISP's will adopt a three strikes approach to deal with customers accused of copyright infringement.

Initially covering ISPs with more than 400,000 broadbaned-enabled fixed lines (this includes BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, SKy, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media), these providers will be responsible for sending warning letters to customers informing them that their account is connected to reports of suspected copyright infringement. If a customer receives three letters in the space of 12 months, Ofcom says copyright owners may then request anonymous information showing which infringement reports are linked to the customer's account. After that, the copyright holder may seek a court order that would require the ISP to reveal the customer's identity and take legal action for infringement under the Copyright Designs and Patent Act of 1988.

The draft sees several revisions to the original draft code, which was published two years ago in 2010. The first relates to evidence-gathering procedures employed by copyright owners. These must now be approved by Ofcom, as opposed to by the copyright owners themselves, and Ofcom said it plans to sponsor the development of a publicly-available standard to promote good practice in this arena. The new draft also specifies that warning letters sent to customers must also detail just how many copyright infringement reports are connected to their account.

Lastly, Ofcom has changed the appeals process a little bit. Ofcom said today that customers will have the right to challenge allegations through an independent appeals body with transparent, accessible appeals procedures. Subscribers will have 20 working days to appeal an allegation of infringement. Additionally, Ofcom has removed the ability for subscribers to appeal on any grounds. Subscribers must now do so on grounds specified in the Digital Economy Act.

Ofcom has said it will now consult on the revised draft code, which will be subject to review by the European Commission before being laid in Parliament at the end of this year. The watchdog expects the first warning letters to be sent out in early 2014. 

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