Alleged file sharers face £500 demands

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". 

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. 
Alleged file sharers face £500 demands Alleged file sharers face £500 demands Reviewed by David Pearce on Friday, December 05, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. We fought against the recording industry's attempt at mass litigation in Canada in 2004 and stopped it in its tracks because the industry was unable or unwilling to provide reliable and admissible evidence concerning IP addresses.

    See the Court docs here:

    and my commentary on this litigation, in which I acted against the record companies, here:

    I hope that this suggests some ideas for defendants and their counsel in England.


    Howard Knopf

  2. Doesn't this also give an opportunity to test the issue of whether English courts agree that copyright exists in hardcore pornography and if it does, whether the courts will use public interest to decline to enforce that copyright in some or all hardcore pornographic material ?

  3. We are always being told that people who share films on the internet are damaging the film industry. People who share music on the internet are damaging the music industry.

    So logically, people who share pirated porn on the internet are damaging the porn industry.

    Perhaps these people should be applauded for their selfless action in trying to single-handedly destroy the porn industry !??


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