Next, they can expect a letter from Ben Dover Productions
O2 has sent out letters to over 900 of its customers, warning it is subject to a court order that forced it to disclose their details to British pornography producer Simon Honey, otherwise known as Ben Dover.
Next, the pornographer and the copyright enforcement agency Golden Eye plan to send their own letters, accusing these customers of copyright infringement and demanding a settlement.
O2, Consumer Focus and the Open Rights Group have attempted to appeal the court decision, but were only successful in bringing down the number of alleged infringers from 9,142 to fewer than 1,000. O2 subsidiary BE Broadband is also subject to the same court order.
Due to the difficulty of using IP addresses and peer-to-peer sharing information as court evidence, experts suggest that letter recipients keep calm, do not admit their guilt and under no circumstances agree to settle.
Innocent until proven guilty?
Back in March, the High Court granted Golden Eye a “Norwich Pharmaceutical Order”, meaning that details of over 9,000 O2 customers could be disclosed to the pornographer who claimed they illegally downloaded his films. This number was later negotiated down to just over 900.
Next, Golden Eye was planning to send the alleged copyright infringers letters threatening court action unless a settlement was reached. However, because of the particularities of the case and the company’s previous experience in “speculative invoicing”, the exact text of the letters had to be agreed in court.
Ben Dover Productions was previously involved in similar ‘campaigns’, where it would send out letters, initially through lawyers, to alleged porn pirates demanding a payment of £700, with lawsuit as an alternative.
It was later alleged that the campaign was targeting innocent individuals and that the speculative invoicing relied on the embarrassment of those targeted agreeing to the fine to avoid the court action, regardless of whether they were guilty or not.
During the weekend, O2 has sent out letters, informing some customers that their details will be handed over. “We did not agree to provide any information on a voluntary basis in line with the [Data Protection Act]. Having reviewed Golden Eye’s evidence and arguments, the Court decided that a disclosure Order should be made and we had no choice but to comply,” said the company in a statement.
“O2 takes the protection of customer data very seriously and has only disclosed what was necessary under the Court Order,” it added.
Because IP addresses can be shared, faked and hijacked, they cannot serve as reliable evidence. Hence, the bill payer cannot automatically be assumed to be guilty of any alleged copyright violation, and therefore any claim made by Ben Dover Productions can’t move forward unless the recipient of the letters admits their own guilt.
TorrentFreak advises customers accused of infringement to read the second edition of the Speculative Invoicing Handbook – a document that was compiled by lawyers to fight actions like the ones launched by Ben Dover Productions.
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