Broadband News

"We've been told you are distributing copyrighted material"

If you were a parent and received a letter from your broadband service provider stating that your connection was suspected of being used for illegally downloading copyrighted material, who would you suspect?

Copyright holders who become aware that someone is distributing their content illegally often notify the relevant broadband service provider, on whose network the activity is taking place, of their findings so that the providers can notify the end users or take appropriate action for repeat offenders. The purpose of these notices is to get users to be under no illusion as to the legality of what they are doing. However, being accused of something you are innocent of is a very distressing experience.

David Berrisford, a customer of Be Unlimited, received an e-mail from the company stating they had received a complaint that he was "suspected of illegally distributing copyrighted material". It included details of the material, date and his IP address. Mr Berrisford became rather concerned when he noted that the alleged distribution had occurred before he was even connected. Having raised the matter to Be's awareness, they acknowledged the information they had provided referred to another customer, but re-iterating there was a flag on his account too, this time providing new evidence:

Infringement Last Documented: 3 Apr 2007 12:52:56 GMT
Infringer Username: Infringing Filename: STARCRAFT.iso
Infringing Filesize: 668266496
Infringer IP Address: 87.194.x.x

Mr Berrisford persisted pointing out that the IP address quoted in the second infringement notice appears to have never been used by him. Finally, Be acknowledged that indeed there had been a mistake and apologised:

"All ISPs have a responsibility to ensure that material subject to copyright law is not distributed through their network. When copyright owners contact us, we are expected to pass the notification on to the members concerned. Unfortunately, part of this process is manual and on this occasion a member was incorrectly contacted regarding this matter. We have since apologised to the member and endeavoured to make amends for this mistake, and we have also put steps in place to prevent this from happening again"

Dana Pressman (Managing Director), Be Unlimited

These notices are sent widely to ISPs by rights-holders who find their content is being distributed illegally. If you receive such a notice from your service provider, don't immediately assume the other users in your household must be guilty. Although Mr Berrisford was fortunate enough to know his connection could not have been used as suggested, others may not be so lucky. This process is likely to be manual to one degree or another in many service providers' organisations so mistakes are likely to take place from time to time.


Just because the filename matches the name of the game doesn't necessarily mean that it is the game does it?

  • adriandaz
  • over 13 years ago

Indeed not. I've had contact from ISPs for downloading the SpiderMan film when I was in fact downloading a MST3K episode completely legally that just happened to have the word "spider" in the title. This was whilst I was with PlusNet.

Since then I've had two letters from Be...about downloading the same film and on the same date/time. Two flags on my account for one film download. Even if I *had* downloaded it, it seems a rather flawed system.

  • Aekeron
  • over 13 years ago

haha make them go nuts i say, upload your family photos to something like imagepile, and name them things like spiderman 3, shrek 3, eminem etc etc. Explain when they contact you that you named the files like that as uncle fred looks like shrek, the mother-in-law is like a blackwidow spider and your son is a eminem fan lol, if they want to invade privacy by spying on us mess with their minds i say lol

  • over 13 years ago

Hope he's going to get a few free months out of them.

  • MrTAToad2
  • over 13 years ago

Oh this is old news, happened early last month... I'm on Be* too, I received one of these notices but mine didn't even list what files they were saying I was sharing.

I just ignored it, not heard a word since then. They're just sending these letters to their users to satisfy the authorities, I'm somewhat confident that in their heart of hearts they couldn't give a toss :D

  • ChristopherWoods
  • over 13 years ago

What's odd is that I know people on Be who download priated fluff all the time but they have never heard a sausage. At least I know the system works, they just need to stop sending the emails to Mr Berrisford.

  • stephen_f2s
  • over 13 years ago

What would you expect from Bulgarians???
Lost in translation perhaps?

  • Vigilant1
  • over 13 years ago

Isn't the original article slightly misleading when it says:
"suspected of being used for illegally downloading"
- shouldn't that be "uploading"

  • LCake
  • over 13 years ago

Starcraft! that takes me back

  • FluXs
  • over 13 years ago

I received one of those letters from Be. I used the "It's not illegal to download something you've already paid for" defence, coupled with the "I object to being forced to insert the CD/DVD to play the game when pirated copies have had this removed" footnote.

Why do 'they', the copyright holders and ISPs always assume that if you're downloading it you've not paid for it? Is it because they have no way of telling whether you've paid for it or not? So they assume everyone is breaking copyright. I won't buy any more of 'their' games after being treated like a criminal.

  • easyTree
  • over 13 years ago

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