Home
 » ISP News » 
Sponsored

Small Claims Track Makes Court Best for Handling UK Internet Piracy Cases

Monday, October 1st, 2012 (1:29 pm) - Score 995

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has today introduced a new small claims track to the Patents County Court (PCC) that should make it easier for UK internet users to defend themselves against dubious claims of file sharing piracy. Rights Holders will also find the process a lot cheaper.

Until recently Rights Holders rarely pursued suspected cases of internet copyright infringement through the courts because it was expensive and law firms (e.g. ACS:Law, Davenport Lyons etc.) often found it more lucrative to pursue broadband ISP customers by sending bullying settlement letters (aka – “speculative invoicing“).

But such cases often place a great deal of reliance upon the Rights Holders ability to connect an Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is assigned to your connection whenever you go online and made public while sharing content over a BitTorrent P2P (file sharing) network, to a specific individual. Several recent cases and rulings (e.g. here , here and here) have found such evidence to be very flimsy and often even inadmissible.

The reason for this is because an IP address can at best only identify the connection owner and any small timing error between an ISP and the third-party P2P logs could easily result in the wrong individuals being targeted. Most connections are also shared (e.g. families, hotels, public wifi hotspots, business networks, schools etc.), thus actually being able to identify the guilty individual becomes almost impossible. As a result Rights Holders often prefer to avoid the courts, while publicly blaming the issue on cost.

The Small Claims Court

Until today the small claims court simply wasn’t equipped to handle such disputes but the IPO’s new track aims to provide Rights Holders with the option of pursuing basic copyright disputes through an informal hearing, without legal representation. This is expected to “reduce the cost of pursuing Intellectual Property infringement cases“. Claims allocated to the new track will also be subject to cost restrictions of £5,000 or less to ensure they are proportionate to what is at stake.

Michael Fallon, Business Minister, said:

Small firms, whose intellectual property has been infringed, will have today a simpler and easier way to take their cases forward, by writing direct to the judge and setting out the issues.

Lower legal costs will make it easier for entrepreneurs to protect their creative ideas where they had previously struggled to access justice in what could often be an expensive progress. A smarter and cheaper process is good for business and helping businesses make the most of their intellectual property is good for the economy.”

On the surface this might sound a bit like it’s going to open the floodgates for thousands more people to be pursued by Rights Holders and that is possible. However, as hinted earlier, the small claims track could also be a double-edged sword for Rights Holders as the problem of fallible evidence is not one that can easily be overcome.

Furthermore consumers whom feel wrongly targeted and or bullied by such piracy claims now have an easier and more affordable means of defence than incurring the risk of a potentially expensive court proceeding. Whether or not this works in practice is yet to be tested.

Peter Bradwell of the Open Rights Group (ORG) said:

A less costly and complex route to justice is another important step towards intellectual property laws that are fit for the digital age. A small claims track will mean creators can access justice more easily when their rights are infringed. And it should help consumers defend themselves against lower value infringement claims.”

Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive of Consumer Focus, said:

High volume but low value copyright infringement by consumers has posed a considerable challenge to a system designed for high value business disputes. The small claims track is a significant step towards a cost effective and fair copyright enforcement regime fit for the digital age. It will allow consumers to effectively defend themselves without facing expensive legal fees. Alternatively consumers can own up without fear of having several thousand pounds of cost imposed against them.”

Sadly none of this looks set to prevent the first phase of the Digital Economy Act (DEA) from getting underway in early 2014 (details). This will require broadband ISPs to begin sending “notification letters” (warnings) to those suspected of having engaged in “illegal” internet piracy. But it might just weaken the case for tougher measures, such as account disconnection or other service restrictions, if Rights Holders are already perceived to have an affordable legal remedy at their disposal.

Leave a Comment
0 Responses

Comments are closed.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £19.95 (*22.00)
    Avg. Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Promo Code: HYPER20
  • SSE £22.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • xln telecom £22.74 (*47.94)
    Avg. Speed 66Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • TalkTalk £22.95 (*29.95)
    Avg. Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Plusnet £22.99 (*35.98)
    Avg. Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: £75 Reward Card
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. BT (2739)
  2. FTTP (2660)
  3. FTTC (1766)
  4. Building Digital UK (1721)
  5. Politics (1629)
  6. Openreach (1588)
  7. Business (1402)
  8. FTTH (1329)
  9. Statistics (1219)
  10. Mobile Broadband (1195)
  11. Fibre Optic (1047)
  12. 4G (1026)
  13. Wireless Internet (1009)
  14. Ofcom Regulation (1003)
  15. Virgin Media (989)
  16. EE (678)
  17. Sky Broadband (661)
  18. TalkTalk (651)
  19. Vodafone (650)
  20. 5G (486)
Promotion
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
Sponsored

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact