Pay twenty pounds to prove you're not a pirate.
One of the unintended consequences of addressing piracy is that it can easily make victims of paying customers. Those of us who legitmately purchase every game we play are confronted with intrusive DRM solutions designed for pirates, which can make us feel like we're viewed as potential pirates ourselves. Sorting out who is a pirate without punishing legitimate users is a very difficult balancing act with no easy solution, but that doesn't stop people from trying. For example, a new easy solution has been put before the United Kingdom: "Put your money where your mouth is. Pay twenty pounds to prove you're not a pirate."
The concept is part of legislation recently presented to Parliament regarding enforcement of the United Kingdom's Digital Economy Act. Here's how it works: if an Internet Service Provider has reason to suspect you of pirating material, they will send you a letter informing you of the suspicion and details on where to find licensed material. Once you've received three of these letters within a year, copyright holders can start requesting account-holder information. (It should be noted that the account-holders name will be withheld unless the copyright holder can obtain a court order.) So far this isn't completely unreasonable, as it at least attempts to address the rights of both consumers and copyright holders.
But let's go a step further. Suppose that you're actually not a pirate; you've received the letter in error for some reason and you'd like to appeal before you reach that third notification. If that's the case you have twenty days to pay twenty pounds, otherwise your appeal won't even be heard. In short, you need to pay money to prove you paid money for something else.
Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey is supporting the idea, saying "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."
Of course, not everyone is pleased. "Copyright infringement is not to be condoned," said Consumer Focus Chief Executive Mike O'Connor, "but people who are innocent should not have to pay a fee to challenge accusations. Twenty pounds may sound like a low sum, but it could deter those living on low-incomes from challenging unfair allegations."
What remains to been seen is how Internet Service Providers will react, since they may actually stand to suffer the most. If this policy is implemented, they will be expected to cover all associated operational costs and be responsible for taking action against repeat offenders, which would be costly and time-consuming at best. In the meantime, we'll have to wait to see if any further revisions will be made before the policy is implemented in 2014.
While we're on the subject, doesn't the phrase "twenty days to pay twenty pounds" just sound right for a pirate movie?