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The Courts The Internet United Kingdom News

30,000 UK ISP Users Face Threat Letters For Suspected Illegal File Sharing 218

Mark.JUK writes with this excerpt from ISP Review: "Solicitors at ACS:Law have been granted approval by the Royal Courts of Justice in London to demand the private personal details of some 30,000 customers suspected of involvement with illegal file sharing from UK broadband ISPs. The customers concerned are 'suspected' of illegally file sharing (P2P) approximately 291 movie titles, they now face threatening demands for money (settlement) or risk the prospect of court action. It's noted that 25,000 of the IP addresses that have been collected belong to BT users."
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30,000 UK ISP Users Face Threat Letters For Suspected Illegal File Sharing

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  • It will never end (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2009 @09:13AM (#30244786)

    We'll build a decentralized network before we allow you to dictate which information we may copy. We have the technology, we have the know how and you're giving us the motivation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2009 @09:20AM (#30244822)

    You knew this would happen, you kidded yourself that no-one would find out if you pirated a few movies.

    The ISP can and will turn over the details to the lawyers if they are ordered to, and it's there in plain text in the contract you signed.

    Stop whining.

  • by Chatterton ( 228704 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @09:22AM (#30244832) Homepage

    Yes. Unfortunatly it is more easy to track P2P users than FTP users. Now what I don't understand is that they don't seed the tracked with some false IPs like the one of the Queen and some institutions for letting them receive these letters too.

  • by asdf7890 ( 1518587 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @09:22AM (#30244836)

    I wonder how they found the 25000 BT users - it seems odd that 25,000 out of 30,000 come from one ISP if they found them by any public means (i.e by joining swarms on public trackers and seeing which IPs are also operating in the swarm).

    My guess is that while they were testing Phorm's targeted-advertising-based-on-snooping technology they were also did something very similar to what Virgin are planning (from the earlier story today "CView's deep packet inspection is the same technology that powered Phorm's advertising system" - CView being what Virgin plan to use to inspect P2P traffic).

  • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @09:23AM (#30244838) Homepage Journal

    Guess it's time to get a Relakks [relakks.com] account. Basically you use a VPN account which gives you some random Swedish IP address. This will keep you off the radar of those collecting IP addresses for a while.

    Not related to them or anything, I was just a satisfied customer for a few months. I gave it up when I realized I almost never downloaded movies and music anymore.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2009 @09:44AM (#30244960)

    How is that a troll?

    Here's the relevant part of the contract from my broadband provider:

    5.3 You shall not use, nor allow any other(s) to use, the service to:

    (a) store, send, knowingly receive, upload, download or distribute any material that is unsolicited, defamatory, offensive, abusive, obscene, pornographic or menacing, or in breach of copyright, confidence, privacy or any other rights;
    (b) violate or infringe any rights of, or cause unwarranted or needless inconvenience, annoyance or anxiety to, any other person;
    (c) breach any laws, legislation, regulations, codes, standards or content requirements of any relevant body or authority;
    (d) obtain unauthorised access to any information, network or telecommunications system(s);
    (e) compromise the security or integrity of any network or telecommunications system(s), including without limitation any part of our network or telecommunications systems;
    (f) place any viruses or other similar computer programs onto the service or the internet;
    (g) store, distribute or reproduce commercial software or reproduce a third party's software or material without the permission of that third party and/or the relevant rights holder(s);
    (h) for any improper, fraudulent or otherwise unlawful purpose; or
    (i) to spam or to send or provide unsolicited advertising or promotional material or knowingly to receive responses to any spam, unsolicited advertising or promotional material sent or provided by any third party. You agree to take all reasonable steps to make sure that this does not happen.

    5.5 In all circumstances, you will indemnify us against any claims, actions or legal proceedings (including reasonable related costs and expenses, legal or otherwise) which are brought or threatened against us by a third party because the service has been used or is being used in breach of paragraphs 5.1 to 5.4.

    And in the privacy policy, turn over your details for:

    (l) legal compliance.

    it's a legally binding contract

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @09:57AM (#30245044) Homepage Journal

    Yes, which is why it is *urgent* that all 30,000 of those people, upon receiving notice, contact a lawyer and file an immediate suit for harassment, thus removing the industry's ability to pick and choose who to actually fight in court. There is strength in numbers.

    Further, it is also essential that those people send letters to their MPs demanding that they fix the law to prevent these abuses. Ignoring the plight of 30,000 organized people would be career suicide.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2009 @10:13AM (#30245122)

    My thoughs on this are if there are so many people "pirating" movies/tv shows then there must be a market to allow users to download them and pay for them either individually or via a subscription. The future is clearly on-demand viewing.
    Why are the copyright holders trying so hard to protect their current revenue stream when there is an un-tapped additional revenue stream? In the same way that downloading music online legally has flourished since Napster's made people think it was ok to not own physical media downloading/streaming films/tv shows will catch on and be big business, eventually putting dvd shops, dvd rental places and traditional tv channels out of business.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @10:23AM (#30245186)

    The numbers are already messed up, the article above says 30,000, 25,000 of which are BT. The BBC article says only 15,000:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8381097.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    So how many people really are covered I wonder?

  • Re:Better in Italy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Smegly ( 1607157 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @10:30AM (#30245240)

    Sadly the left-wing gov we have ...

    Check your political compass... [politicalcompass.org] you can't talk about left/right with without also including the Authoritarian/Libertarian axis. Yeah, it requires slightly more effort than linear left/right thought... probably why you never hear it mentioned when the general population talk politics.

  • Re:Better in Italy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gbarules2999 ( 1440265 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @10:30AM (#30245250)
    No, you've got it wrong. Right wing likes the growth of power in business (fascism) and left wing likes the growth of power in government (socialism, communism). Both inherently flawed, but in this case, it's the growth of business, so it's right wing policy.
  • Re:Better in Italy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2009 @10:51AM (#30245400)

    I take it you don't subscribe to the theory that fascism and Nazism are left-wing movements, then? [wikipedia.org] As in, a merger of corporate and government power that leaves the government in charge?

    The leftist reason to oppose filesharing is the same as the leftist reason for opposing unauthorised typewriters and printing presses: if you control how people communicate, then you can control what people think. It just so happens that, once again, the needs of big business line up with the needs of Peter Mandelson. A better example of a left-wing fascist could never be found.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Friday November 27, 2009 @10:59AM (#30245470)

    The customers concerned are 'suspected' of illegally file sharing (P2P) approximately 291 movie titles, they now face threatening demands for money (settlement) or risk the prospect of court action.

    The emphasized part is bullshit fearmongering to get them to pay. Expect the “charges” to be dropped as soon as you refuse and tell them to go fuck themselves. I’ve already seen it twice. You don’t pay, and nothing happens.

    Which is obvious, since they have no proof, no legal anything, and were it not for the changes they pressed into law, they would not even be listened to by the courts.

    If you got such a letter, tell them to go fuck themselves, because they don’t even know what “proof” is in computers, because they know shit about how computers work.

  • Re:It will never end (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @11:01AM (#30245484)

    So what's the difference between film ending because of piracy and film ending because nobody has any spare income to afford entertainment? You want to sell 100 Million tickets in the US, better have at least 100 Million people with enough income to reasonably afford it. Means is more basic than intent. You can (maybe) change the minds of people who have intent to watch without paying, you can (maybe) convince them to buy your formula blockbuster without clocking in that predictable thrill-ride is an oxymoron, but you absolutely can't provide them with the means to buy a ticket and still make a profit.
            Right now, the film industry is reaping the 'benefits' of real wages having remained static for most since the 1970's as taxes rose, savings declines, and credit moved from something good customers paid off quickly to a lifetime of working for the credit companies. The industry is far from the only one, but they get to blame the problems on pirates instead of looking at the other factors.

  • Re:It will never end (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JPLemme ( 106723 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @11:40AM (#30245888)
    There are only so many hours in a day, and there are only so many movies and television shows that people can consume. If the costs of reproduction and distribution fall precipitously, people aren't going to see ten movies a week or watch TV for an additional four hours a day. They'll just spend less money to consume about the same amount of content. That would be true even in a world with no piracy. And with more bandwidth to fill, that smaller pool of money needs to fund the creation of even more content. Risky, expensive productions were going to wither away even if BitTorrent had never been created. Or put another way, don't blame piracy for The Jay Leno Show or Saw VI. In fact (although the huge biases make it hard to trust any study of the topic), I wouldn't be surprised if most pirates haven't greatly reduced their spending on media as distribution costs fell; but rather started accumulating more bits for the same amount of money.

    Once content producers figure out how to make money in a world without physical media (which requires them to figure out how to offer their customers what they want at a prices they'll pay -- you'd think it wouldn't be so hard), the content will flow again. There may be less money available to create it, and they may need to change the ways they fund it, but people with a story to tell will find a way to tell their story. The radio and the phonograph didn't kill live music, movies didn't kill live theater, television didn't kill movies, and the VCR didn't kill anything. In all of these cases there were big winners and big losers, and the scope and/or quality of the content may have morphed over the decades, but there is more stuff (both good and bad) than ever before.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday November 27, 2009 @01:13PM (#30246694) Journal

    I would love to see the content owners hit with a massive fine for environmental damage. I currently watch most films by renting the DVDs. These are plastic disks which are posted to me, put in a machine, and posted back. This involves them travelling several hundred miles in a fossil-fuel-powerd machine. The only reason that I do this is because the copyright owners do not allow network delivery under the same terms. If I could download the DVD image, for example (or, ideally, something with more efficient compression), then it would cost vastly less for the company that I rent the DVDs from, and have far less environmental impact.

    The same company also provides a streaming service, which I use quite often. At present, they have just under 2,000 titles available for streaming (with TV episodes counted individually) and 60,500 titles available on DVD (with seasons of TV shows counted as single titles). There is absolutely no technical reason why they could not provide every single one of these DVDs for live streaming or DRM-free download for playing on mobile devices. The only reason that they do not is legal; the copyright owners do not permit it.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.