The IPKat was pointed to a story from the BBC (here, and with more details here) about thousands of internet users in the UK being told they will be taken to court unless they pay up for having used internet file sharing networks for downloading porn films. German company DigiProtect, represented by London-based law firm Davenport Lyons, have apparently been sending out letters accusing users of copyright infringement and demanding £500 to settle out of court. Southampton-based solicitors Lawdit have taken up the fight for hundreds of the accused, and Lawdit's principal Michael Coyle is quoted as saying "the overriding feeling is one of outrage".
Friday, 5 December 2008
This seems to the IPKat to be a further inevitable development following from TopWare Interactive's success in the High Court (see here and here) in obtaining details of alleged infringers of TopWare's computer games from ISPs based on their users' IP addresses. It appears that the same tactics are being used in this case (and he wouldn't be surprised if the same IP addresses are involved too). What he is a little concerned about this time, however, is the clear element of carefully judged blackmail in the current round of letters. While many may be prepared to fight their case over being wrongly accused of downloading copyright material relating to computer games, how many would fight their corner over being wrongly accused of downloading "Young Harlots in London*"? Given that the standard of proof for copyright infringement is on the balance of probabilities, rather than beyond all doubt (of which there may be a significant amount), and the accused would effectively be faced with the difficult task of proving that they did not do the accused act, would this be a risk worth taking?
*The IPKat thought about providing a link to this, but decided against it after seeing what came up in a Google search. Most definitely NSFW.