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UK Sky Broadband ISP Customers Hit by Internet Piracy Threat Letters

Monday, July 13th, 2015 (11:25 am) - Score 3,453

As predicted some users of Sky Broadband, specifically those who are accused of sharing unlawful copies of the movie The Company You Keep (TCYK) over public BitTorrent file sharing (P2P) networks, are beginning to receive letters from a copyright firm (TCYK LLP) that demand compensation.

The so-called “Speculative Invoicing” culture is sadly nothing new, although the tactics remain questionable. Related organisations usually track public Internet Protocol (IP) addresses on P2P networks and then later submit a Norwich Pharmacal Order (NPO) to a court, which forces the linked ISP (e.g. Sky) to release details about any associated subscribers.

Shortly after that the copyright firm or a lawyer acting on their behalf will then pursue those subscribers with worry inducing letters, which usually contain veiled threats in the hope of either tricking the subscriber into incriminating themselves or paying up to avoid the threat of court action.

In reality related court cases are usually too expensive to pursue and most of those that have been attempted tend to fail due to a lack of solid evidence. Indeed IP address based evidence is notoriously flaky, not least because it may be incorrect or fail to reflect that many people can share a single Internet connection.

The letters themselves naturally go after the bill payer, who may have no idea that such activity has taken place (assuming it even took place at all). Back in March 2015 Sky Broadband warned some of their users to expect just such a letter (here) and today TorrentFreak notes that the first such communications are finally being received.

Extract from TCYK LLP’s Letter to Sky Subscribers

Our forensic computer analyst has provided us with evidence that on the following UK date and time, [redacted], all or part of the Work was made available from the internet protocol (or IP) address [redacted], specifically for the purpose of downloading by third parties.

In the event that you were not responsible for the infringing acts outlined above because, for example, another member of your household was the user of the computer, you should make full disclosure to us of the other parties at your residence using your internet connection to make the Work available for download.

A failure to make such disclosure may lead to the claim being made against you with the court being asked to conclude, on the balance of probabilities that you were the user of the computer. … We will propose an appropriate figure to you in the subsequent letter after we have received your response to this letter and carefully considered its contents.

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 and read the Speculative Invoicing Handbook. In many cases though it may be better not to respond at all and if you want a solicitors help then Michael Coyle from Lawdit has agreed to step in.

Customers should not be afraid to challenge an allegation if you feel it to be false and history shows that it’ll often cost the firm a lot more money than they’ll get back to pursue such a case through the courts.

Last year all of the country’s largest broadband ISPs agreed to a new Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), which will also send warning letters to those suspected of similar activity (here). But the VCAP letters will contain no threats or demands for money and should only act as an “education programme“.

The first phase of the new VCAP system was originally due to be introduced before the end of this spring, although we haven’t seen much activity on this front yet.

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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
12 Responses
  1. Bob2002 says:

    Ladies and gentlemen if you *must* torrent at least use a non-logging VPN, of which many are available. Torrenting without one is simply shouting your IP address from the rooftops.

    1. Graeme says:

      Or a seedbox

    2. DanielM says:

      all vps’s have logs don’t believe that crap about no logs.

      be it a process log or connection log it will have them..

    3. Bob2002 says:

      VPS or VPN?

      TorrentFreak have a 2015 anonymity review – https://torrentfreak.com/anonymous-vpn-service-provider-review-2015-150228/

      Normal people aren’t going to pay for a VPS and install a VPN server.

    4. DanielM says:

      VPN**

      but most run on cheap vps anyway ($5-10). and it still remains the same. logs are kept.

  2. Stukey says:

    Having read the article on Torrentfreak( and read of some of the low-life tricks that Sky pulls) its interesting in a post submitted that the monitored films “The Company You Keep” and also “The Dallas Buyers Club” another movie that was used to attempt to extort money out of people with Sky’s compliance, were both Hive-CM8 torrents, a fact that is seen by many as not coincidental. Maybe torrenters should steer well clear of any Hive-CM8 torrents

    1. Graeme says:

      its nothing to do with the encoder it all depends on what swarm they monitor

  3. dc says:

    You can’t blame people who use these torrent sites because the price to download legal content is very expensive but you need to respect the copyrights of these company’s and support them

  4. cyclope says:

    Well what else can you expect from the mass market isp’s they make money by selling your details to the copyright trolls

    1. Another user says:

      Sky has no say in the matter, if its a court order then they will deal with what the order says and no more.

  5. Freeman says:

    You can use No Contract Return To Sender people, Citizen’s Advice will NOT tell you this!!!!!

    http://julianwebsdale.tumblr.com/post/79260580869/no-contract-return-to-sender-label-explanation

    http://loveforlife.com.au/node/7082

  6. Freeman says:

    Here’s a better explanation and breakdown of the process.

    Just return the letter marked ‘NO CONTRACT’ return to sender. (or whatever the translation maybe)

    All law is the law of contract and is only by consent.
    What they are trying to do is trick you into contracting with them. If you engage with them and reply and sign your reply you are consenting to contract with them even if you deny the allegations. They will pursue you even into court. Why? because they will have established ‘joinder’ (you have acknowledged who you are and your address) and you will become the other ‘indispensable party’ to the litigation and judgement can then be made against you. If you are not acknowledging who you are, (and there is no obligation to do so as you are not contracting with them and they have no authority or jurisdiction over you), they are screwed.
    If they send repeat letters, repeat the above.
    Don’t take my word for it, research it for yourselves.

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