Wednesday, March 17, 2010

So Who Are The Pirates?

You know that feeling when you return to your car and find a large clamp immobilising it, a instant demand from a man in a white van and him pointing out a parking sign, which often was not exactly always in clear sight. We have only had one such incident and on occasion had bought a parking ticket, but because it ‘was not properly displayed’, we were fined.

Today, even before the three strikes rule passes into law, thousand of demands are being made to alleged illegal file-sharers in the UK. UK law firm ACS:Law acting on behalf of DigiProtect, are issuing letters on behalf of content owners.The numbers are not small with some 60,000 UK IP addresses being identified today and ACS is now applying for court orders to force the ISP to release the IP owner’s physical address. The letters ‘invite’ the IP owner to respond to their evidence and enter into an out of court settlement for around £500 per infringement ‘to avoid litigation’.

Earlier this week the BBC demonstrated how easy it was to steal IP addresses, resulting in owners being potentially falsely accused. The Solicitors Regulation Authority are currently now investigating complaints against ACS:Law and another law firm Davenport Lyons. BPI, the UK music industry body, says that it has no intention of following a similar legal path.

The IP owner is not always the offender. The IP address is not even a ‘safe’ identifier. How do a WiFi hot spot, parents with teenage children, flat mates who shares a communal hub and the innocent defend themselves? How many innocent IP owners may find themselves criminalised in the search of a few dollars? How much of the money collected will be held as a management fee by the collector? Given that claims have been raised against adult material and games, who are the actual content owners and what is the value of the content?

Wheel clampers once had licence to demand money with what some said was malice and it took time before common sense prevailed. In our case we were lucky and our appeal to the ultimate property owner, British Rail, resulted in our getting our money back off the clampers. We doubt that much will come back from these collectors.

To Read more at he BBC:
02 condemns file-sharing letters
Law firm's piracy hunt condemned

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