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UK ISPs To Hand Over Thousands of File Sharers' Data 180

Death Metal Maniac sends along a link from TorrentFreak on the latest development in game developer Topwear's battle against file sharers in the UK. "US game developer Topware Interactive, the people behind the now infamous Dream Pinball affair, are about to turn up the heat. Operating through London lawyers Davenport Lyons, they have managed to convince the High Court to send out an order demanding that ISPs in the UK start to hand over the details of several thousand alleged pirates ... BT, one of the UK's largest ISPs ..., confirmed it had been ordered to hand over details of alleged copyright infringing file-sharers ... Virgin Media was a little more slippery in its response but reading between the lines it seems obvious they are involved too."
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UK ISPs To Hand Over Thousands of File Sharers' Data

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  • Re:Land of the free (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @10:14AM (#24887789) Homepage

    Is that some sarcasm; it's impossible to tell?

    Perhaps in the UK they (we? ex-pat here), haven't had the sue happy lawyers going after every man and his dog yet. But perhaps this is the beginning.

  • Re:Land of the free (Score:4, Interesting)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @10:30AM (#24888013) Journal

    Yeah, in the US, the ISPs are free to hand over that data without bothering the court. And if the FISA debacle has taught us anything, it's that they're more than happy to hand over data without worrying about minor little details like "due process."

    The Verizon case -- where Verizon refused to hand over the data without a court order -- teaches us the opposite. Or perhaps just that Uncle Sam is a bit more persuasive than **AA.

  • by bhunachchicken ( 834243 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @10:33AM (#24888051) Homepage

    I swear this contravenes the Data Protection Act.

    And how come they are allowed to do such a thing?! One rule for them, another for us. Here's an example: The other day my brother calls me up to tell me he's lost his glasses. He's trekking in a jungle somewhere in Malaysia and now cannot see very well.

    However, he asks me to get his prescription details so he can get a pair made up there. I then call the optician and explain the predicament. But, to my dismay, they refuse to hand over the details because it is a breach of the Data Protection Act. Erm... WHAT?!!

    These ISPs should not be handing over any ones' details, at all. It's not like the users are planning to blow up Canary Wharf...

  • by jambox ( 1015589 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @10:45AM (#24888225)
    There are all sorts of restrictions that the industry puts on electronic media distribution, 99% of it is motivated by their desire to protect their existing business model. If the business model changes too much, the web of companies making profit will fall apart. They're ideologically unable to accept the truth; that is, advances in IT mean that eventually artists will sell directly to consumers. The only thing that will remain in between is the critics, DJs, journalists, etc who screen the huge amount of stuff for us. Distribution companies, duplication plants, agents, A&R, agents and lawyers will all be out of a business and shareholders will lose money - that's what they're trying to stop. That will probably happen to music first, but will probably generalise to TV and then movies in time. Inertia is caused by the amount of investment to make the stuff.
  • Re:Hard to pin down (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Atlantis-Rising ( 857278 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @10:55AM (#24888357) Homepage

    First of all, plausible deniability is not really a legal concept.

    But secondly, the concept which you seem to be attempting to get across (i.e., introducing sufficient doubt so as to not meet the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt) is not really relevant here. This appears to be a civil matter, in which case, it is on the balance of probability.

    Moreover, you're basically saying that the majority of BT's customers were negligent and should be held liable for their negligence? I'm not sure they'd be happy about that. It's not like it's BT's fault.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @10:58AM (#24888413)

    in case ISPs are worried about little things like the Data Protection Act.

    Ah yes, the Data Protection Act.

    That would be the law which is misinterpreted to mean that a mother can't complain about a present purchased for her 7 year old until said 7 year old has agreed that she can discuss it []?

    (Incidentally, the law is perfectly clear and was obviously not relevant in this situation - it's just been used as an excuse to be stupid by countless organisations)

    And this would also be the law which despite numerous high-profile data loss cases has resulted in only one reasonably high-profile fine (which the organisation concerned publicly announced would come out of customer's pockets because they "didn't think it fair" to take it from the Chairman's bonus).

  • by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:03AM (#24888483)
    Recently there was lot of UK press about someone being made to cough up £16K for sharing MP3s. What the press omitted to say was that Davenport Lyons wrote to thousands of people saying 'You owe us £6K for piracy!'. Almost everyone wrote back and said 'No we don't, prove it'. DL did no more. The rest of the recipients ignored the letter and in the case in question, the person didn't even bother to turn up at court so got the full amount of £6K plus £10K costs against them.
    I suspect they know damn well all they have is some basic data and not enough for any sort of solid case. Did they have entire files? Did the file signatures match known cheksums of copyright files? Were the connections wireless and unencrypted? Are there multiple users on a single PC etc. etc.
  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:12AM (#24888589)

    They've won a few cases.

    Well, let me put that a little more realistically. The defendant didn't even bother to turn up so they got a default judgement in a few cases.
    And they crowed about a record £16000 award for their dumb pinball game a little while ago. Thing is, the lady they won that judgement against had not only not showed up in court, and not replied to any of their letters, but had actually moved house between the alleged infringement and the date the letters were sent. She was never even informed there was action against her. So the ruling isn't worth the paper it's written on.

    Their damage calculations are laughable too. We don't really have punitive damaged in the UK. You might be able to get them laughed out of court by saying "yes, I downloaded over a torrent network. They sell for £5, I downloaded one copy and (as a good torrent citizen) uploaded 110%, meaning their damages are exactly £10.50."

    I don't know exactly what would happen then, but usually that sort of thing should be in the small claims court, not the grown-up court, and legal expenses wouldn't be covered in the judgement there.

    At that amount it's a waste of the court's time.

  • Re:Hard to pin down (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `todhsals.nnamredyps'> on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:13AM (#24888605) Homepage Journal

    According to them that's no excuse. You're responsible for your own equipment.

    How can you f***ing be responsible for something you don't even know how it works? We do know, but what do the poor joe-users know? And why do manufacturers don't use a much stronger encryption so that only the users' machines will be able to access the network?

    What we're dealing with is corporate negligence, and as usual, they blame the end user.

  • Re:Hard to pin down (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:19AM (#24888677)

    ok a few things to ponder on.

    What DL et. all say and what is tested case law are normally vastly different.

    Its not illegal in the uk (just inadvisable) to leave your wireless network completely open. it *is* illegal and a criminal not civil matter to use that connection if not authorized to do so.

    As stated its civil matter meaning its a balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt. An expert witness to detail to possibilities of breaking a wep key to the court for instance.

    All of the DL wins so far have been no-shows where defendant has not shown up and defended themselves. this lead the judge to find for the plaintiff automatically and no legal president is yet set.

    A German court however, has ruled that the wireless defense is acceptable and a precident has been set there collapsing the case.

    DavenPort Lyons are playing a game of bullying brinkmanship , they don't actually want to get into a situation where they set adverse precedent by taking on someone that wont pay the protection money and will fight in court , the ISP's concerned could find themselves in very hot water if they have given out customers names for a civil not criminal matter and the data protection act covers that in any future amendment.

    More than anything if they put the scares on you and you stop sharing its job done.

  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @12:04PM (#24889287)

    that's been going on in the US for a decade, the p2p use continues to rise, the risk of being sued continues to diminish.

    Game, set, match all right. The people win.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham