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O2 UK and BE Broadband ISP Users Receive 250 GoldenEye Piracy Letters

Saturday, Feb 2nd, 2013 (8:04 am) - Score 4,802

Customers of ISP O2 UK (BE Broadband) have this week begun to receive the first 250 of just under 1,000 initial internet piracy threat letters from Golden Eye International (GEIL), which targets internet users whom are suspected of having “illegally” shared (P2P) copyright content that belongs to the Ben Dover porn brand.

The situation stems from a series of recent court rulings (here and here) that have allowed GEIL to extract the personal customer details associated with just under 9,000 internet connections (logs of unique IP addresses), which all linked back to users on O2’s fixed line broadband network.

So far GEIL has only managed to convert 2,845 internet connection logs into details for less than 1,000 actual customer accounts but more will follow. O2 and BE have already warned those affected to expect letters from GEIL and the first mails have now begun to arrive.

Customers can expect to receive two letters. The first pre-action letter (example) acts as a general notice that copyright infringement has been detected, while the second focuses on a negotiated settlement sum. Consumer Focus, which challenged GEIL in the High Court, won several vital concessions that meant the tone of the letters and their included information had to meet certain strict limitations (e.g. GEIL cannot assert that the bill payer may be liable for any copyright infringement that occurs on their connection).

In addition Golden Eye cannot ask subscribers for £700 in compensation upfront, as they originally intended, and must first establish the extent to which copyright infringement may have been committed.

Consumer Focus Statement

The High Court has recognised that the subscriber, that is the bill payer for an internet connection, may well not be the individual that has committed the alleged infringement. Most internet connections in the UK are shared, that is one person pays the bill and other people in the household use it as well. Golden Eye could only identify IP addresses relating to alleged infringement of Ben Dover Production films, which identify an internet connection, not a computer or the individual at the keyboard.

In order to safeguard the rights of subscribers who may well be innocent, the High Court sanctioned a so called letter before action, or pre-action letter, which Golden Eye is required to send out. However, regardless of whether O2 and BE customers are guilty of the alleged infringement, they need to respond to Golden Eye within 28 days, setting out whether they deny the allegation, or admit to copyright infringement.

Customers whom have been targeted by the action can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), which has been given prior notice about who would receive such messages and can offer free support. The letters suggest that some customers could face a heavy fine or court action, although such cases are rarely pursued because they’re both expensive and have a history of failure (the object of these schemes is usually to make money and court cases based on flimsy evidence rarely succeed).

It should be said that GEIL’s letters effectively ask recipients to admit their own guilt before a claim can move forward.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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