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The cost of illegal file sharing
Saturday 29 November 2008 11:57:16 by Andrew Ferguson

Davenport Lyons' is the name that is at the centre of the current round of letters demanding £500 compensation from people who are believed to have downloaded and then subsequently shared copyright protected material. A great many of these cases stem from a court order in June 2008 which requires providers to carry out a cross reference lookup between an IP address and time, and which customer was using the IP address at that time.

The Register has been following the story closely, and claimed an exclusive this week when it learnt that Atari had dropped a campaign that was run on its behalf by Davenport Lyons.

"In relation to file sharing, our position is that we always retain and reserve the right to protect our intellectual property from illegal copying and piracy. Whilst we are no longer working with Davenport Lyons, we continue to work with legal advisers to protect our rights."

Statement from Atari's legal department to The Register

The methods and amount of evidence used to produce the letters asking for a token compensation of £500, plus £5 costs for the ISP was very much brought into question when a case was dropped against a couple in November 2008.

Davenport Lyons' has expanded its operation beyond the games industry, and is now taking action against copyright violations involving adult films. Since the letters arrive addressed to 'Dear Sir or Madam', this could lead to some heated debates in households as to who downloaded and thus made it available for sharing via a P2P client, if in fact anyone did.

Davenport Lyons Letter of Claim
Click image for larger version

The irony of these letters is that you do not even need to have watched the film or have the whole film in your possession. Peer to peer protocols such as Bittorrent mean that if you start to download a file as you receive various parts of it, these will also be shared with others.

Click image for larger version

There are no statistics on how these letters are affecting copyright violations, but the sums involved for individuals seem excessive, there is the additional danger that people being accused of downloading pornography may simply pay up for the problem to go away. The reaction from many on receiving these letters is that they are an elaborate scam, but this is a long way from the truth and one law firm Lawdit is currently representing some 300 people who have received a Davenport Lyons letter. They have a File Sharing FAQ that is worth reading. The key point is that if you are in receipt of one of these letters consult a solicitor.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the various proposals for three or four warning letters for copyright violations before some punitive action might be preferable. Firms behind the current letters risk tarnishing their image, and the hardcore who have massive film collections will be looking for more secure and harder to track ways of sharing material.


Posted by meldrew over 8 years ago
I wonder how much Georgiana got paid for the film? Pot, Kettle, Black.......
Posted by imbsuk over 8 years ago
to be caught downloading porn in such a way could be very embarrassing, I can imagine.
Posted by Rroff over 8 years ago
As these companies will find in the long run they do more to hurt themselves chasing people who pirate their products than they lose from it.

Added to that the practises used against filesharers are often as immoral and wrong as the filesharers themselves.

I also strongly believe that a legal precedent should be set that defines that a company should have to prove that they have an alternative legal offering for distribution of the property online which is fairly priced and doesn't have overly restrictive DRM.
Posted by Rroff over 8 years ago
Oops my last point should have been that before they can take someone through the courts or demand a settlement they should have the above in place.

I know many "otherwise" respectable people who pirate things simply for the convenience because there is no reasonable legal alternative.
Posted by drteeth over 8 years ago

I have always felt the same.
Posted by Aqualung over 8 years ago
I have no problem with people who do something illegal being dealt with by the law.

I do however have a deep disregard for what is basically demanding money with menaces and am shocked that the law society have not come down hard on this firm,who are threatening people with pay us or else.Even the French disbarred a lawyer for the same tactics,but this new tactic is even more sinister when a firm puts the files up to entrap people.
Posted by izools over 8 years ago
Thing is, what happens if you are a victim of trojan or spyware, which result in your computer becoming a host and server of such materials without your knowledge or through no action of your own?

Come to think of it, what's to stop guilty people also using this as a defence?

The whole idea of basing a prosecution on an IP address is proposterous. That IP address could be in a list for any number of reasons.

I'd love to see what Davenport Lyons they do with all the BT Openzone IP addresses they come accross!

This is just blatant entrapment out to make a quick buck.
Posted by therioman over 8 years ago
"I'd love to see what Davenport Lyons they do with all the BT Openzone IP addresses they come accross!"

hmm, let me see, they lookup the logged in openzone account/mac it relates to at the said hotspot at that time and voila, they know the identity of the account being used.
Posted by Gzero over 8 years ago
I'm more at shocked at peoples attitude: Well as long as they don't accuse me it's okay...

Hmm what happened to standing up for your fellow man?

It only seems to matter when it happens to you!
(I do not condone piracy or any groups that engage in piracy activities, this solely my opinion and does not imply that in anyway I pirate software.)
Posted by Gzero over 8 years ago
its too early in the morning for me I think...
Posted by AndrueC over 8 years ago
@Gzero:The older you get the less you trust your 'fellow man'. It's called experience :-/
Posted by beeflin over 8 years ago
It's so obvious that exect copying is what digitised media were invented to provide, that we ought to find ways of not worrying about it. Intellectual property is a fiction which is becoming increasingly stretched. My attitude is if you pirate my work I will not react unless you resell it passing it off as my official publication. That is reasonable and penalises liars rather than people doing what comes naturally.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
couple of facts here, the evidence obtained by grabbing of a torrent tracker is very weak and unreliable, next the projected losses are also ambitious as assumptions are been made that everyone who pirates it would have otherwise brought it and that they stopping dozens of others buying it.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
beeflin I agree, copyright is getting silly its meant to prevent others profiting from work you have done not in the way its been used now.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
therioman - No. If you own a router and someone uses it for something illegal because of anything "open", you're liable and have to *prove* it wasn't you.
Posted by jerrymartin over 8 years ago
What happened to innocent until proven guilty!!!!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
Innocent until proven guilty is a premise of criminal law I believe.

These copyright cases would be brought under civil law which has different ways of working, i.e. if balance of proof was that the person did violate the copyright or allowed it to happen then they lose.

Not aware of any case that has been contested properly in court yet.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote""I'd love to see what Davenport Lyons they do with all the BT Openzone IP addresses they come accross!"

hmm, let me see, they lookup the logged in openzone account/mac it relates to at the said hotspot at that time and voila, they know the identity of the account being used."

Rubbish they catch people based on the IP nothing more, i could download loads of illegal content merrily from your wireless or any openzone or open wireless and all they would have is the original IP they wouldnt know who was responsible. (CONT)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
This Davenport group have even falsely accussed people in the past... Please dont add to their scaremongering with rubbish which would actually mean they have some idea about tech rather than collecting reports of IPs they or a reporter saw in some P2P app while sitting there all anal about some game or music. Its about time some execs woke up net content is the future and its about time parasites like davenport got a swift kick in the nuts followed by a load of verbal abuse.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Im now off to download Dirty legal sluts vol 1 for me and the mrs to watch and for cheap giggles hearing a solicitor have to repeat that several times in court...
Posted by izools over 8 years ago

Not to mention having to repeat ..."with the alias CARPETBURN"...."Dirty Legal sluts vol 1"...

The two go hand in hand so well ;)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
^^^^ Bwahaha just think win or lose id be made famous by the media LOL... Davenport would no doubt cry my case gets thrown out. Due to the case not being able to be dealt with fairly because of the media frenzy writing stories about The dirty legal slut aching for some Carpetburn :D
Posted by Fixer109 over 8 years ago
Well the cat is certainly among the pigeons tonight. Watchdog has taken up the case against Davenport bringing in forensic scientists to dispel the idea that a IP number is sufficient for proving in court that the download/sharing actually occured.

The only to prove that this is so is to analyse the HD and get evidence this way.
Posted by Fixer109 over 8 years ago
These experts proved that 2 of the cases brought by Davenport were mistaken identity as the analysis of the HD proved in no uncertain terms that the users were not on the internet at the time that was stated on the summons and that no illegal downloads could be found on the HD.So if they write to you get them to analyse (at their expense of course as the proof is theirs to give and not to you to prove your innocence)and this is quite a cost more than £500 demands.

BTW the Atari Letter Davenport wrote was two 2 old age pensioners.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
^^^ Oh please dont make me laugh at the cluesless watchdog program, those idiots showed peoples IP addresses on the show (maybe someone should write to them about IP spoofing)

As to the so called evidence, the second person concerned on the show has more than one computer in their home (take not of the lights on his netgear router... That wasnt his main machine).... I wonder did they hand over their desktop or just the innocent laptop the game didnt touch? Honestly Davenport are a bit scummy but please dont sing praises of the watchdog program and their so called pfftt evidence.
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