Following my recent rant about the state of UK copyright infringement persecution I was delighted to read at ArsTechnica that consumer organisation Which? has filed a complaint with the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. The target of the complaint is law firm Davenport Lyons, those fine caring citizens who are making a habit of targeting alleged online copyright infringers with offers of pre court settlements for several hundred pounds. Which? accuses Davenport Lyons of ‘excessive bullying’ following repeated threatening letters to innocent internet users.
Davenport Lyons have hit the news several times this year, for a range of actions against owners of open WiFi networks, alleged game pirates and even gay pornography downloading pensioners (alleged). It’s about time these legal bullies were called to answer for their ‘victories’ against those hardcore criminals, especially the single Polish mother of two who ended up with a bill of £16,000 after failing to appear in court for a civil case. Is common sense making a comeback?
This one’s getting more convoluted than any soap opera. News broke recently that Virgin Media has done a deal with the BPI and will send warning letter to any of its customers that the BPI accuse of illegal file sharing. It appears that Virgin Media are now trying to backtrack on this, and have told the BBC that there is ‘absolutely no possibility’ of banning internet users or taking legal action. This is despite 800 users receiving letters from Virgin Media in the past month that are in envelopes labelled ‘Important. If you don’t read this, your broadband could be disconnected’. So no chance of sending conflicting messages. Read more…
While the obscene behaviour of the US copyright enforcement agencies hasn’t yet reached the UK, it appears one group who really should know better have been caught. The Lancashire Police force has been accused of copyright infringement by the Performing Rights Society. It appears the bobbies have been playing music in their police stations and to telephone callers on hold, without the necessary licenses.
Perhaps the most shocking part is that Lancashire police are one of eleven county forces that have refused to pay licensing fees to the PRS. Does this mean British police are refusing to obey the law?
A few days can make a big difference in the news. I was away from home for several days this week on a work training course (hence the lack of updates). Before leaving I wrote a piece about The BPI working with ISP’s to implement the ‘three strikes’ rule to ban sharers of copyrighted material. Since returning home I have read several news pieces that show the situation to be getting a lot more interesting. Read more…
The Register and Ars Technica have news today that Virgin Media are in talks with the British Phonographic Industry to implement a three strikes system to remove copyright infringing file sharers from Virgin Broadband. From The Register,
‘BPI enforcement agents will detect IP numbers participating in copyright-infringing peer to peer networks. They will alert the ISP, which will voluntarily send out warnings to stop or face disconnection from the net.’
So who do you challenge if (when?) the BPI get it wrong? And the bigger question is how far will this go? Music and Movies will be targeted, but what about computer software? Pirated software will no doubt meet the same response, but what about a kalyway or iatkos install image when you own a genuine install disk. Or EFI emulation software used to install Leopard on a non-Apple computer in breach of the EULA. While we would all hope for a fair and reasonable system, how much sympathy will the system have for the computer naive parent who’s children have broken the rules?
At a time when TV networks are making their content available for free from their web sites, will a warning letter be the result after downloading the latest episodes from a bittorrent site?
And perhaps the biggest question, who is paying for this.