After being alerted by Sky last month, customers of the UK broadband provider are now receiving letters accusing them of Internet piracy. Letters obtained by TorrentFreak reveal porn outfit Golden Eye accusing account holders of copyright infringement but noting that they might not actually be to blame.
Last month news broke that a brand new flood of copyright infringement threats were about to land with UK-based Internet users.
“A company called Golden Eye International, which owns rights to several copyrighted films, has claimed that a number of Sky Broadband customers engaged in unlawful file sharing of some of its films,” ISP Sky told its subscribers in a warning letter.
“It’s likely that Golden Eye International will contact you directly and may ask you to pay them compensation.”
It’s taken several weeks but as promised Sky subscribers are now receiving letters from Golden Eye (GEIL) and partner firm Ben Dover Productions (BDP).
“It is with regret that we are writing this letter to you. However, GEIL and BDP are very concerned at the illicit distribution of films over the Internet,” the letter begins.
GEIL then explains that it is not the content owner but “the licensee authorized to enforce breach of copyright” on the adult movie titles referenced in the letters. To protect our sources we aren’t publishing the movie titles but to get an idea of the embarrassment some people are feeling right now, a full list of the movies can be found in GEIL’s license arrangement with BDP, available here (PDF).
As usual GEIL points out that it has hired a “forensic computer analyst” to track alleged infringers. However, in more than one instance it appears that GEIL is accusing people of downloading and sharing content in the summer of 2014. Expecting people to remember what happened so long ago could be a tall order.
“On 26 August 2015 Master Bowles, sitting in the High Court, ordered that SKY UK LTD give disclosure of your name and address, for the purpose of enabling us to send you this letter and if necessary bring legal proceedings against you,” the letter continues.
“In accordance with that Order, SKY UK identified you as the subscriber noted in their systems as on their network associated with the IP address on the date and at the time in question.”
As noted this past weekend ISPs can make mistakes too, but nevertheless GEIL’s letter clearly states that the account holder is assumed to be both the infringer and the user of the relevant computer at the date and time in question.
The company cannot possibly know this for certain since any number of people can have access to a household’s Internet access. Interestingly, they immediately admit that too.
Of course, if people are unaware of any infringement taking place they cannot reasonably be expected to furnish GEIL with that information. And while GEIL say they “may” ask the court to conclude that the account holder was the user of a an unspecified computer on a date 18 months ago, the court is also free to reject that assertion.
It’s also worth noting that GEIL have never engaged in a contested case in court, despite threatening to do so many times previously. What the company actually wants is a confession and hard cash.
“Once your response to this letter is received, GEIL and BDP will be prepared, if we believe that you have behaved unlawfully, to give you the opportunity to avoid legal action by proposing a settlement out of court,” the letter notes.
As previously instructed by the court GEIL is not allowed to ask for a specific amount in its initial letter, but recipients of second letters from the company will probably receive demands of up to £600 to £700 to put the matter to rest.
However, GEIL also tries to lure letter recipients in by suggesting that accidental infringement or that carried out by a child might result in a lower settlement amount being offered.
GEIL concludes by asking for a detailed confession or for the account holder to point the finger at members of their family or friends who have had access to their network.
“Please state whether you admit that you have downloaded the Work and/or made it available for download by others and if so the extent to which you have done so and whether you are prepared in principle to enter into a settlement of the kind outlined above,” GEIL adds.
“If you deny that you have downloaded the Work or made it available for download by others, please explain the basis upon which you deny it, and provide the information that we have requested above about other users of the computer.”
TorrentFreak has spoken to several letter recipients in the past few days. Only one said he was thinking of settling with GEIL.
People looking for legal advice can contact Southampton-based solicitor Michael Coyle who is handling these cases for a fraction of the amount requested by GEIL.