Home
 » ISP News » 
Sponsored

800 Virgin Media Customers Pursued by Internet Porn Piracy Lawyers

Friday, October 24th, 2014 (1:49 pm) - Score 11,213

The threat of “speculative invoicing” appears to have re-emerged in the United Kingdom after a long running, but not widely reported, battle between Virgin Media and London law firm Wagner & Co resulted in the UK cable operator being forced to release the details of 800 customers whom are alleged to have shared “illegal” copyright content online.

Readers might recall that a similar tactic has been used in the past, with morally questionable “law firms” like ACS:Law and Davenport Lyons becoming known for their earlier distribution of threatening letters that demanded large cash “settlement” payments in return for avoiding the threat of possible court action.

But few of those cases ever made it to court, with many recipients feeling “bullied” into coughing up, and those that did end up in court usually resulted in failure because of the inherent difficulty with connecting activity that occurred on a dynamic Internet Protocol (IP) address to a guilty individual.

Internet addresses can be spoofed, redirected or become incorrect due to small timing errors in the tracking and ISP access logs. Similarly an IP address can reflect a network that’s shared between many users (e.g. business network, public wifi, hotel etc.) and thus at best you’d only be able to identify the bill payer and they might not be the guilty individual.

But last year a little common sense was injected into this practice after the Open Rights Group got involved in a similar case between O2 and Golden Eye International [GEIL] (here and here), which targeted broadband subscribers who had allegedly shared copyright content online (this belonged to the Ben Dover porn brand). GEIL was eventually allowed to send the letters, although they were prevented from wrongfully asserting that the bill payer may be liable for any copyright infringement. Never the less, sooner or later, the demand for money will always surface.

In the latest incarnation of this approach TorrentFreak reports that four porn producers from outside of the United Kingdom have teamed up with Wagner & Co, which incidentally has also worked with GEIL, to pursue Virgin Media for the details of 1,400 broadband customers that are alleged to have shared adult copyright content online (Internet piracy). But unlike some ISPs Virgin Media actually chose to challenge the request.

A Virgin Media Spokeswoman said:

We have contested the validity of Wagner & Co’s claims (on-going for 12 months), asking the Judge to thoroughly review the application and the supporting evidence. We have challenged the reliability of the software used to obtain evidence of infringement (FileWatchBT) and the accuracy of the data collected.

The original request was for double the number of addresses than we have been forced to disclose, now fewer than 800. We advise any of our customers who receive a speculative letter from Wagner & Co, who also represented Golden Eye International in action against O2 customers last year, to seek independent advice from organizations such as Citizens Advice.”

The affected customers can probably expect to received two letters, with the first taking the form of a general notice that copyright infringement has allegedly been detected and demanding a response within 28 days or so. The follow-up letter would then focus on a negotiated settlement and failure to respond could result in the recipient being found liable. A sample letter, which is based on the one that GEIL used before, can be found online (here).

Generally speaking, if you know or believe yourself to be innocent of the allegation, then it’s best to discuss the matter with Citizens Advice before responding. Systems like the one used above are based on the fact that most of those pursued will be too afraid to go to court and thus pay to avoid that and the embarrassment factor. But don’t be afraid to challenge an allegation if you feel it to be false, history shows that it’ll often cost the law firm a lot more money than they’ll get back to pursue such a case.

Share with Twitter
Share with Linkedin
Share with Facebook
Share with Reddit
Share with Pinterest
Mark Jackson
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar Steve Jones

    There is surely something a little ironic over Virgin customers getting into trouble over porn…

  2. Avatar Alan Knight

    I have recently received a letter from Wagner & co, march 2015. I contacted citizens advice who have advised me to ignore the letter and to contact action fraud. Which I have. I have no knowledge of the file sharing I am accused of.

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
  • Plusnet £22.50 (*35.98)
    Avg. Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: £50 Reward Card
  • xln telecom £22.74 (*47.94)
    Avg. Speed 66Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Onestream £22.99 (*34.99)
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. BT (2741)
  2. FTTP (2670)
  3. FTTC (1768)
  4. Building Digital UK (1723)
  5. Politics (1631)
  6. Openreach (1592)
  7. Business (1403)
  8. FTTH (1330)
  9. Statistics (1223)
  10. Mobile Broadband (1195)
  11. Fibre Optic (1048)
  12. 4G (1027)
  13. Wireless Internet (1009)
  14. Ofcom Regulation (1004)
  15. Virgin Media (992)
  16. EE (678)
  17. Sky Broadband (662)
  18. TalkTalk (653)
  19. Vodafone (651)
  20. 5G (487)
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