Ofcom's code for dealing with persistent illegal file-sharers was published today, to a chorus of criticism from open rights activists and internet service providers.
The new regime, which allows the entertainment industry to monitor file-sharing websites and send the IP addresses of downloaders to their service provider for potential legal action, is set to be in force by 2014.
"Digital revenues are going up, the music and film industry are moving in the right direction, yet this cumbersome policy is still lumbering forward," commented Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group.
"Ofcom are being asked to put lipstick on a pig with this code.
"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."
Those who appeal a warning notice must pay £20. They can argue that someone else was downloading on their wi-fi network, but only if they prove they took reasonable steps to prevent it.
Internet users who receive three warning letters in a year could be added to a blacklist under the proposals. They may then be identified to copyright holders under a court order and face a civil claim.
The government rejected attempts to put a right of appeal on "any reasonable ground" into the code.